The Cosmos in close up

Author Giles Sparrow's latest book is a collection of photographs of the nearest vision of the universe modern technology can give us
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The Independent Culture

Popular wisdom says that the naked eye can see a distance of approximately 300 feet from a lit candle on a clear night. While stars, planets and distant galaxies can be seen from thousands of light years away, it is sometimes difficult to determine one luminescent globe from the other even if you’ve got 20:20 vision.

With the invention of the telescope 500 years ago all this changed, of course, and the human eye familiarised itself with glittering nebulas, the rings of Saturn and other planetary characteristics. Humans began trying to make sense of, and to map out, the geography of the vast enveloping black ether which surrounds us.

But the nuances of Space captured by the Hubble Telescope and others like it in the last couple of decades have provided a more acute vision of the universe than has ever been seen. Cosmos Close-Up, a new book by Giles Sparrow, is a collection of the most detailed and close-up photographs of the solar system ever taken.

Volcanoes erupting on Io, one of the Jupiter’s four Galilean moons, the glorious Helix Nebula (pictured), which earned itself the nickname ‘Eye of God’ for its peculiarly human stare, and the Large Magellanic Cloud are just some of 150 extraterrestrial landscapes you can explore between the hardback covers of Sparrow’s delightful book.

Click here to preview some of the images

Cosmos Up Close, £14.99, is published by Quercus on 26 May