CONTACT: Kara Thornton

Publicist | Black Dog & Leventhal                                                   




Have you ever tried to conceptualize the magnitude of the tiniest particle within the structure of an atom or the vastness of a black hole at the center of a galaxy? For most people, the sheer scale at both the largest and smallest ends of the spectrum is impossible to truly fathom. As a part of the communications team at NASA’s Chandra Observatory, Kimberly Arcand and Megan Watzke are continually asked to explain the “hugeness” and “tininess” of the world we live in. In MAGNITUDE (Black Dog & Leventhal; November 7, 2017), these brilliant women in science take us on a journey to explore some of the lightest and heaviest, fastest and slowest, hottest and coldest, largest and smallest, loudest and quietest phenomena in the Universe.  


The book is broken into four sections – Size and Quantity (covering distance, area, volume, mass, time, and temperature; Rates and Ratios (covering speed, acceleration, density, and rotation); Phenomena and Process (covering energy, pressure, and sound); and Computation – to bring these difficult concepts within reach. Using a clever combination or illustrations, information graphics, and the absolutely essential logarithmic scale, MAGNITUDE shows us the scale of our world in a clear, visual way that our relatively medium-sized human brains can easily understand.




Kimberly Arcand is the visualization lead for NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, specializing in image and meaning research, and in data representation. She lives near Providence, RI. Megan Watzke is the press officer for NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, specializing in communicating astronomy with the public. She lives in Seattle, WA.

Together, Arcand and Watzke are the authors of Light: The Visible Spectrum and Beyond.




Katie Peek began her career as an astrophysicist, searching for planets that circle distant stars and and investigating the history of our own Milky Way galaxy. After earning her Ph.D., she transitioned to science journalism and ultimately to data visualization and illustration. The former information graphics editor at Popular Science magazine, today she creates graphics for many publications, scientific and not.



The Scale of the Universe

By Kimberly Arcand and Megan Watzke illustrated by Katie Peek

Black Dog & Leventhal | November 7, 2017 | $27.99 | 192 Pages | ISBN: 9780316502917


For more information on MAGNITUDE or to speak with Kimberly Arcand or Megan Watzke, please contact Kara Thornton at or 212-364-0537.



Praise for MAGNITUDE

“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


“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


“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


“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


"This wonderful book captures the immense range of scales spanned by our Universe. Through a clear and pedagogical description peppered with beautiful illustrations, Arcand and Watzke 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


“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

light the visible spectrum and beyond cover