light the visible spectrum and beyond cover

Magnitude: The Scale of the Universe


By Watzke & Arcand. (Illustrated by Katie Peek)

Published by Black Dog & Leventhal, November 2017

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In the tradition of illustrated science bestsellers, like Thing Explainer and harkening back to the classic film The Powers of Ten, this unique, fully-illustrated, four-color book explores and visualizes the concept of scale in our universe. 


In Magnitude, Kimberly Arcand and Megan Watzke take us on an expansive journey to the limits of size, mass, distance, time, temperature in our universe, from the tiniest particle within the structure of an atom to the most massive galaxy in the universe; from the speed at which grass grows (about 2 to 6 inches a month) to the speed of light. Fully-illustrated with four-color drawings and infographics throughout and organized into sections including Size and Amount (Distance, Area, Volume, Mass, Time, Temperature), Motion and Rate (Speed, Acceleration, Density, Rotation), and Phenomena and Processes (Energy, Pressure, Sound, Wind, Computation), Magnitude shows us the scale of our world in a clear, visual way that our relatively medium-sized human brains can easily understand.

Magnitude was selected as one of Smithsonian Magazine's Best Science Books of 2017, one of BuzzFeed's "This Year's Best Books," and was also featured in the Washington Post, on Geekwire, Geek Dads, Symmetry, and Forbes.



Select Reviews:

“From the smallest particle that makes up an atom to a large cluster of galaxies, Magnitude

shows us the complexity and scale of the universe like never before. This book uses

relatable language and infographics to invite all readers to learn about the sheer magnitude

of our world. By doing so this book allows the reader to see the universe in a new way, and in

turn better understand their own place in it.” —Rachel Ignotofsky, author of Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World

“We live in a universe bigger and smaller than our brains can fathom. Magnitude

is an enjoyable and essential guide to appreciating our place among it all.” —Joe Hanson, author and host of It’s Okay to Be Smart

“How big is big? How small is small? As an astronaut and citizen explorer, I love having

someone explain some of the more puzzling aspects of our universe to me in terms that

make sense. With Magnitude, my brain cried ‘Eureka!’ every time I turned the page.”

—Cady Coleman, PhD, former NASA astronaut

“Leonardo da Vinci was famously interested in both the microcosm and the macrocosm.

He would have been delighted with this book. Through clear text and illuminating

illustrations, the authors tackle questions ranging from ‘how does the mass of a human

eyelash compare to the mass of the black hole at the center of our galaxy?’ to ‘how fast

does a dentist’s drill rotate?’ A fascinating journey through the measure of all things.”

—Mario Livio, astrophysicist, and author of Why?: What Makes Us Curious

“Magnitude brilliantly illustrates the relative scale of so many aspects of the universe that you will feel so much smarter about EVERYTHING after reading this!” —Curtis Wong, principal researcher, Microsoft Research

“Arcand and Watzke have crafted a masterpiece. A must-read for anyone wishing

to appreciate the richness of the cosmos from its microscopic building blocks to its

largest structures.” —Avi Loeb, chair, Harvard Astronomy department

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Light: The Visible Spectrum and Beyond


By Watzke & Arcand.  Published by Black Dog & Leventhal, October 2015

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A visual exploration of the power and behavior of light, across the entire electromagnetic spectrum, and how it affects life on earth and everything in the Universe.


Light illuminates our world and allows us to see everything around us. But, in fact, humans can see only a sliver the full spectrum of light that governs life on Earth and everything in the universe, known as the electromagnetic spectrum. In this highly visual, original exploration, Megan Watzke and Kimberly Arcand present the subject of light as never before. Organized along the order of the electromagnetic spectrum, from radio waves to gamma rays, each chapter focuses on a different type of light, describing its particular properties, characteristics, and practical uses. From radio waves, which allow for TV and cell phone communication, to infrared light which makes thermal body scanning possible, to X-rays, which allow us to peer inside the human body, as well as view black holes and supernovae millions of light years from Earth, Watzke and Arcand show us all the important ways that light impacts life on Earth and beyond. An introductory chapter gives an overview of the electromagnetic spectrum and describes what light is and how it behaves, while hundreds of full-color photographs and illustrations demonstrate concepts and make for a stunning book that’s a joy to read and browse through. 


Light is the perfect book for readers of all ages and anyone interested in the beauty of science of our visual world.



Select Reviews:

"Coauthors Arcand and Watzke (NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory; Your Ticket to the Universe) infuse romance, beauty, and excitement into celestial objects seen with everything from radio to gamma rays….anyone ready to see the stars in a new light will enjoy this pictorial tour." ―Library Journal


"This large-format book provides a visual introduction to the entire electromagnetic spectrum, illustrating each wavelength band with captivating photographs taken through telescopes, microscopes and cameras sensitive to all ranges of light. The book also illuminates fascinating quirks of light...that illustrate how central it is to life."―Scientific American


"Beautiful and absorbing...Any astronomy enthusiast would be struck with joy while reading through this book"―Dave Eicher, Astronomy Magazine

"Highly informative and a feast for the eyes"―Mario Livio, author of The Golden Ratio

"Entertaining as well as educational"―Phil Plait, Slate


"LOVING "Light: The Visible Spectrum and Beyond," the beautiful new book by [Arcand and Watzke]. So good."―Eric Whitacre, Composer 

light the visible spectrum and beyond cover
coloring the universe book cover

Coloring the Universe: An insider's Look at the Making of Space Images

By Rector, Arcand & Watzke. Published by University of Alaska, November 2015

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Many images of the Universe are spectacular, but are they “real”? Delving deep into the often-unseen world of how images of astronomy are created, this book provides the reader with a unique behind-the-scenes look at exactly how we get these impressive and important visual slices of our Universe.  


This book opens a window into the Universe for the novice explorer of space images, to the veteran amateur astronomer. Learn about the basics of light, walk through how astronomers and their telescopes capture data from cosmic objects, and look at how that information is made into beautiful images of space.  Whether it’s a brightly colored planet or a fluorescent-hued galaxy, we look at how Photoshop and other image-processing tools are used to create these spectacular images.  


In jargon-free language, we explain how the human eye works, what meaning color can have, and how this can affect our relationship with images from space. We even explore why we tend to see faces in our cosmic images and what that means to our understanding of the Universe.   This book reveals how we truly can see the Universe, and just how that remarkable vision impacts and influences our place here on Earth.



Select Reviews:

"Endlessly fascinating" ―The Chicago Tribune


"What Coloring the Universe gives you, that none of its competitors do, are answers to a whole slew of questions you knew you well as answers to questions you didn’t even know you had.  It’s not just a beautiful glimpse into the Universe; it’s a peek behind-the-scenes at how astronomers are creatively and artistically enabling humanity to see the full extent of what’s present.Ethan Siegel,


"[The authors] bring a photographer’s sensibility to the book, explaining just how [they] made some of the stunning photos we too often take for granted.WIRED


"[5-star rating]....beautifully laid out in a way that does full justice to the images...It's true it's not your typical astronomy book, and after reading it you'll probably never look at an astronomy image in quite the same way again.BBC "Sky at Night"


"Will make thousands of astronomy enthusiasts very happy..." ―Dave Eicher, Astronomy Magazine

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Your Ticket to the Universe: A Guide to Exploring the Cosmos

By Arcand & Watzke. Published by Smithsonian Books, April 2013.

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Fasten your seat belt, sit back, relax, and enjoy this well-organized tour of the cosmos with your expert tour guides, Megan Watzke and Kimberly K. Arcand of NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. In this book, they provide all the best views of the Universe, with gorgeous photography taken by the Hubble, Chandra, and Spitzer space telescopes. Your tour begins on Earth, then to the Moon and the Sun before stopping at all the major attractions in our Solar System. Your guides provide informative and entertaining explanations as you soar across the Milky Way, collide with galaxies near and far, experience the gravitational effects of dark matter, and ponder mysterious cosmic energies. You will discover so much by trip’s end and will be further amazed by how much is left to be explored in this vast Universe.


Select Editorial Reviews:

   "This is the "Goldilocks" book for a reader who wants more than pretty pictures, but less than a treatise on astrophysics.  It's a great "ticket" to that space in-between the coffee table book and the text book.  Just enough extra information to understand why these beautiful images of the Universe matter, to us all."

    -Dr. Alyssa Goodman, Harvard professor of astronomy


   "A delightful jaunt through space and time, equal parts knowing verve and dazzling views.”

    -Dan Vergano, USA TODAY


    "The Universe is the ultimate ride, and this book is your ticket to get on. Arcand and Watzke use gorgeous images as well as clear, easy-to-understand prose, so you'll really enjoy the view as you travel from Earth to infinity."

    -Dr. Phil Plait, Astronomer and author (