The phenomenal growth of modern astronomy, including the invention of the coronagraph and major developments in telescope design and photographic technique, is unparalleled in many centuries. Theories of relativity, the concept and measurement of the expanding universe, the location of sun and planets far from the center of the Milky Way, the exploration of the interiors of stars, the pulsation theory of Cepheid variation, and investigations of interstellar space have profoundly altered the astronomer’s approach.
These fundamental discoveries are reported in papers by such eminent scientists as Albert Einstein, Sir Arthur S. Eddington, Henry Norris Russell, Sir James Jeans, Meghnad Saha, Otto Struve, Fred L. Whipple, Bernard Lyot, Jan H. Oort, and George Ellery Hale. The Source Book’s 69 contributions represent all fields of astronomy. For example, there are reports on the equivalence of mass and energy (E = mc²) of the special theory of relativity; building the 200-inch Palomar telescope; the scattering of galaxies suggesting a rapidly expanding universe; stellar evolution; and the Big Bang and Steady State theories of the universe’s origin.