Leon Golub & Jay M. Pasachoff
Nearest Star: The Surprising Science of Our Sun

In this reasonably well-written book, Golub and Pasachoff put a basic understanding of our sun within everyone's reach. For the most part, it is some of your better popular science writing out there. Some sections (in Chapters 3 and 4) are difficult or obscure for those who aren't familiar with the field to begin with though.

A really neat feature is the 16 page color layout in the middle of the book which includes some truly spectacular and amazing photos. Some of the more entertaining and informative (or perhaps practical would be a better way of putting it) chapters deal with the subject of eclipses and future space missions designed to study our sun. Included are tips on how to view eclipses, what to expect during the eclipse's various phases, and where the eclipses for the next 20 years can best be viewed from. In this regard, Nearest Star has inspired me to plan a vacation that includes a total eclipse viewing adventure once my kids are a bit older.

If things such as the sun's corona, the aurora, sun spots, or how we know what we know about the sun are items that sound interesting to you, and you'd like to know more, then this is the place to look. The authors are obviously passionate about astronomy and our sun in particular. Nearest Star is a must read for anyone planning on viewing an eclipse and a recommended read for those who are stimulated by astronomy.

from the publisher:
Unlike the myriad points of light we gaze at in the night sky, our nearest star allows us to study the wonders of stellar workings at blindingly close range--from a mere 93 million miles away. And what do we see? In this book, two of the world's leading solar scientists unfold all that history and science--from the first cursory observations to the measurements obtained by the latest state-of-the-art instruments on the ground and in space--have revealed about the Sun. Following the path of science from the very center of this 380,000,000,000,000,000,000-megawatt furnace to its explosive surface, Nearest Star invites readers into an open-ended narrative of discovery about what we know about the Sun and how we have learned it.

How did the Sun evolve, and what will it become? What is the origin of its light and heat? How does solar activity affect the atmospheric conditions that make life on earth possible? These are the questions at the heart of solar physics, and at the center of this book. Having made optical solar observations with many solar telescopes and in the rockets and satellites, the authors bring their extensive personal experience to this story of how astronomers study the Sun, and what they have discovered about phenomena from eclipses to neutrinos, space weather, and global warming. Richly illustrated with an assortment of pictures from the latest solar missions and the newest telescopes, this book is a very readable, up-to-date account of science's encounter with our nearest star.

Leon Golub is an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and is the head of one of the teams working with NASA's Transition Region and Coronal Explorer (TRACE) spacecraft.

A book written with both knowledge of and affection for the subject, so that portions of it are almost as warming as the sun itself. --Virginia Trimble, Professor of Astronomy, University of Maryland and University of California, Irvine

It's easy to take for granted our nearest star, the star that provides us with heat and light, ingredients we need for our existence. But with clear prose, the authors bring us an exciting and important tale of what we know about our vital neighbor, how we know it, and what we're still learning at the forefront of research. --Wendy Freedman, Astronomer, Carnegie Observatories

The Sun is life, and for us Earthlings it anchors the most important real estate in the universe. Until this century we didn't have a clue as to how the Sun works. Golub and Pasachoff--expert solar physicists--unveil in everyday language the Sun's wonderfully energetic alchemy and the many ways it influences our lives. They provide a harmonious balance between historical reflection and cutting-edge science. --Leif J. Robinson, Editor Emeritus, Sky & Telescope magazine

The State of the Sun: Here, in a single, beautifully written volume, Golub and Pasachoff have brought us all up to date about the most important star of all. This book should appeal to everyone who has gone outside, felt the heat of the Sun, and wanted to learn more about it. The chapter on eclipses is particularly good, which is not surprising considering that Pasachoff has seen more eclipses than anyone else I know. Both authors are expert and their words are easy to understand, enjoy, and learn from. --David H. Levy, Science Editor, Parade magazine and author of Eclipse: Voyage to Darkness and Light

Without the sun our Earth would be a dead and frozen wasteland. This excellent book by two eloquent experts describes our wondrous star. It is huge, complex, turbulent, constantly erupting and ultimately evolving. An important star, an important book. --Paul Hodge, Editor, Astronomical Journal

This timely book considers the latest achievements and advances in solar physics. Written by two of the world's most active and brilliant astrophysicists, it offers clues that may lead to the resolution of many of the most fundamental questions facing solar physicists, including the hotly debated question of the nature of the relationship between the sun and the earth. --Serge Koutchmy Directeur de Recherche at Paris Institut d'Astrophysique; CNRS-France