Erik Anderson has produced a nifty book, Vistas of Many Worlds: A Journey Through Space and Time. In my “unboxing video,” below, I mention that it would have been ideal for my boyhood self. Why mention that? Well, the very idea of this book appeals to youthful enthusiasm. It is a scientifically accurate explanation and depiction of “the heavens” from a variety of alien perspectives: We see what the stars would look like from other worlds, and we see what the stars and major astronomical events would have looked like in the past . . . and might look like in the future.

Not long ago Neil DeGrasse Tyson urged filmmaker James Cameron to redo the night scenes at the sinking of Titanic so that they would be astronomically accurate. For some of us, it’s not just that things should look plausible. They are better if they are scientifically accurate.

Anderson, the co-author of a pair of published papers in astronomy, has the information to plot stars. And in this book he puts the stars in their place. And us in the ideal places to view the stars.

So that’s why I judged it “exactly the kind of thing I would have liked when I was a kid” in my video (I was into all things science when I was young — indeed, I lectured on astronomy to my First Grade class at age 7):

I’m obviously not a professional videographer. But I thought it would be amusing to do an “unboxing video” of a book. I’ve seen them done of computer and electronic equipment. Why not a book? Well, in editing I cut out most of my yammering, and the video turned out to be something of a sales pitch. This is appropriate, since it looks like the book won’t be in a lot of stores. But it is available on the Net:

I strongly recommend it. The book is high on the “neat” scale.

Surely there are a lot of people out there like me, generally interested in science but not expert in fields such as astronomy. What we like about subject matters like astronomy often comes down to wonder as much as the scientific method. Erik Anderson’s new book captures both that “wonder” element as well as the science. The commentary is concise, and the pictures are gorgeous.

And it may be the perfect gift for your science fiction nerd friends and relatives. What do you get such folks? You can hardly buy them an sf novel or movie — they’ve probably read it or seen it. But they don’t have this. Not yet, anyway. It’s just out.

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