Comets

Nature and Culture

P. Andrew Karam

Comets

P. Andrew Karam

Distributed for Reaktion Books

224 pages | 80 color plates, 20 halftones | 5 3/4 x 8 1/4 | © 2017
Paper $24.95 ISBN: 9781780238302 Published October 2017 For sale in North and South America only
Radiating fire and ice, comets as a phenomenon seem part science, part myth. Two thousand years ago when a comet shot across the night sky, it convinced the Romans that Julius Caesar was a god. In 1066, Halley’s Comet was interpreted as a foreshadowing of the death of Harold the Second in the Battle of Hastings. Even today the arrival of a comet often feels auspicious, confirming our hopes, fears, and sense of wonder in the universe.

In Comets, P. Andrew Karam takes the reader on a far-ranging exploration of these most beautiful and dramatic objects in the skies, revealing how comets and humanity have been interwoven throughout history. He delves into the science of comets and how it has changed over time; the way comets have been depicted in art, religion, literature, and popular culture; and how comets have appeared in the heavens through the centuries. Comprehensive in scope and beautifully illustrated throughout, the book will appeal not only to the budding astronomer, but to anyone with an appreciation for these compelling and remarkable celestial bodies.
Review Quotes
BBC Sky at Night Magazine
“‘Astronomical bringers of life and death’—this is how Karam characterizes comets (at least in the public imagination) in this very attractive and highly illustrated book. . . . It is part of Reaktion’s Earth series, each with the aim of drawing together science, art, literature, history and culture and the ways in which they have responded to a particular physical phenomenon. . . . It is glossy, full of excellent, diverse, interesting images and with just enough text, divided into standalone sections, to dip in and out of.”
The Observatory
“Karam has a bright, breezy, and introductory approach. . . . He investigates the cultural influence of comets, and considers their role in art, fiction, fantasy, graphics, and astrological prediction. Here the book benefits from a host of superb illustrations and the author’s commendable writing ability. The influence of Halley’s Comet, and the effect of great comets on the likes of Julius Caesar and the Heaven’s Gate Cult enliven the text.”
For more information, or to order this book, please visit https://www.press.uchicago.edu
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