Measuring the Universe

The Cosmological Distance Ladder

Stephen Webb

Measuring the Universe For the past three decades the question ‘how big is the universe’ has been one of the most hotly disputed topics of modern astrophysics and cosmology. Our uncertainty about the size and age of the observable universe is no more than a reflection of our uncertainty about the distances to nearby stars and galaxies.

Distance determination is not only one of the most important tasks that astronomers face, it is also one of the most difficult. Measuring the Universe begins by describing methods of measuring distances on Earth, then climbs the various ‘rungs of the distance ladder’ that takes us all the way to an estimation of the distances of the farthest known objects in the universe.

Each chapter is devoted to a particular ‘rung’ of this distance ladder, and presents the development of our understanding of that part of the scale.

In this introductory book Stephen Webb emphasises general physical principles rather than mathematical detail. There are lots of worked examples, and each chapter ends with a helpful summary of main points, questions and problems, and a guide to further reading.

Table of contents:

Extent: xvi + 342 pages; 121 line diagrams and photographs
Binding: paperback
Publication Date: March 1999
ISBN: 978-1-85233-106-1

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