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Infrared astronomy encapsulates so much of the opportunity that seeing the universe with other wavelengths allows. There are things that we know full well exist, but we would not be able to tell without this portion of the light spectrum. Planets and their atmospheres, stars, brown dwarves, supermassive black holes, and even whole galaxies.
49% Funded | 183 Supporters

Invisible Rainbows: Exploring the Unseen Universe Beyond Our Senses

Dr Alfredo Carpineti
Status: being funded
Publication Date: TBC
  • Signed Hardback
    Signed Hardback£35.00167 Pledges

    First edition Signed Hardback and the name of your choice printed in the subscribers’ list at the back of the book.

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  • Stargazing with Alfredo
    Stargazing with Alfredo£120.003 Pledges

    Join Alfredo to witness a celestial event in the year of the book’s publication. This will be based in London and will run for 2 hours, with more details announced nearer the time. Travel and accommodation not included. LIMITED TO 8. *Book not included

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  • 10 Books & Workshop with Alfredo
    10 Books & Workshop with Alfredo£375.002 Pledges

    Ten signed hardbacks and a talk/workshop delivered by Dr. Alfredo Carpineti.

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  • Downloadable Cosmic Cocktail Recipe Cards
    Downloadable Cosmic Cocktail Recipe Cards£15.001 Pledges

    Ever wanted to drink an Orion Sonata? Or how about a Hydrogen Martini? Receive a set of four illustrated downloadable cosmic cocktail recipes, created by Alfredo himself. *Book not included.

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  • Virtual Talk with Alfredo
    Virtual Talk with Alfredo£50.002 Pledges

    A virtual / in-person talk with the author of Invisible Rainbows. Book not included LIMITED TO 10.

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  • Cosmic Cocktails Workshop
    Cosmic Cocktails Workshop£30.001 Pledges

    An invitation to a virtual live mixology workshop hosted by Alfredo. Make some delicious cocktails and discover the tastiest objects in the universe. Masterclasses will each be 1 hour long and will be grouped into two sessions of 15 people on two different dates. LIMITED TO 30. *Book not included

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  • Hardback
    Hardback£25.0022 Pledges

    First edition Hardback and the name of your choice printed in the subscribers’ list at the back of the book.

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  • Ebook via Glassboxx
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  • 25 Books & Workshop with Alfredo
    25 Books & Workshop with Alfredo£875.000 Pledges

    Twenty-five signed hardbacks and a talk/workshop delivered by Dr. Alfredo Carpineti.

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  • Queer Astronomers Mug
    Queer Astronomers Mug£15.000 Pledges

    Celebrate queer astronomers who made awesome discoveries with this Invisible Rainbows inspired mug. *Book not included.

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  • Patron
    Patron£1000.001 Pledges

    Be one of the book’s biggest supporters and get your name printed in a special supporters list in the front of the book + 5 signed hardbacks. LIMITED TO 5.

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Infrared astronomy encapsulates so much of the opportunity that seeing the universe with other wavelengths allows. There are things that we know full well exist, but we would not be able to tell without this portion of the light spectrum. Planets and their atmospheres, stars, brown dwarves, supermassive black holes, and even whole galaxies.

On Titan, Saturn’s biggest moon, scientists believe that rainbows exist. Made from a rain of methane, their light is in the infrared, which is only detectable to us using thermal cameras. Millions of miles away, on another familiar planet, the ultraviolet aurorae gives Mars an ethereal sky glow. And much further out, X-rays have enabled us to locate supermassive black holes in distant galaxies.

From radio waves to gamma rays, Invisible Rainbows: Exploring the Unseen Universe Beyond Our Senses examines how accessing light beyond the visible is transforming our understanding of the Universe. Human ingenuity combined with cutting-edge technology is leading to groundbreaking discoveries. Astronomers are using all the light that exists to discover new celestial objects, uncover phenomena originally believed impossible, and upend what we thought we knew about the cosmos.

Featuring interviews with a diverse selection of astronomers and researchers from all around the world, astrophysicist and science journalist Dr Alfredo Carpineti elevates the voices of the people making these incredible breakthroughs. Combining their insights with his own expertise, he describes how our increased ability to see the whole electromagnetic spectrum is allowing us to unlock long-standing mysteries in the invisible Universe.

When I feel down about the state of the world, about the indifference of the Universe, I always think of rainbows. They are a trick of the light when it encounters rain. The colours that make up what we consider white light are made visible as water droplets don’t scatter all the colours in the same way. And suddenly, beautifully, you have a rainbow. Sometimes, you get a double rainbow. If you are high enough, you can see it go all the way around in a circle, with no ends for leprechauns to place gold. But there is another thing that makes rainbows special. Nobody else has seen the same rainbows as you. It doesn’t matter if they are standing right next to you. Light doesn’t work that way. It moves in straight lines from the rain droplets to your eyes, and your eyes alone. The rainbows that you see are just for you. No one else in the whole universe ever has or ever will see that exact rainbow.

But a rainbow, even in its uniqueness tells us something about the way we understand the Universe. It shows us that our senses are limited. We see sunlight as colourless. Where have these colours been hiding? Are there even more that we do not see? And the answer is a resounding yes.  

A few years back, relaying more fun facts about these colourful events, I was asked if rainbows exist on other worlds. Obviously, we could speculate on planets around distant stars, but we are confident that they exist on a world that is literally next door in cosmic terms. There’s a moon in Saturn called Titan. Titan is the biggest satellite of Saturn, bigger than Mercury. It is also the only other place in the solar system with rivers, lakes, seas, and most importantly for our discussion, rain. The only problem is that is not the rain we are all familiar with. It is far too cold on Titan for that. The liquid there is methane (and other hydrocarbons) and it rains occasionally, although not as often as on Earth. If you were in a spaceship around Saturn and you looked at Titan, you would see a hazy orange world. Nothing too exciting about it. You wouldn’t see the lakes and rivers. But if you could see the world in infrared, the light that is emitted by warm bodies, suddenly the clouds would become transparent, and you would catch glimpses of sunlight reflecting on those lakes. Spacecrafts that we have sent there have seen them. 

But let me take you a step further. Imagine yourself on the cold surface of Titan. Still, with your infrared equipment, picture a more sophisticated version of night-vision goggles. It is raining and the Sun is shining through some clouds. There in the sky, you would see a rainbow. Very similar to Earth’s own but only visible to you thanks to infrared tech. It’s an invisible rainbow to humans, but it is there. As unique and incredible as the one that we can experience here. 

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