I'm not a professional author or journalist but I enjoy writing and I used to write quite a bit. I have had several books published, not surprisingly, they are all about space and astronomy. Here are some details about them. Click here for a list of some of the magazine articles I have written (I don't remember them all!)

Cosmic Impact

by John Davies. Published by 4th Estate Ltd, London 1986 ISBN 0947795-20-0. 197 pages with 8 pages of black and white photographs.

Cover painting by David Hardy.

Cosmic Impact is about asteroid and meteor impacts on the Earth in both historical and prehistoric times. It describes some well known meteorite falls such as those at Tunguska in 1908 and the formation of the Barringer Meteor Crater in Arizona. There is an extensive discussion of the evidence that the dinosaurs were killed by the fallout after an asteroid impact and of the proposal that prehistoric "mass extinctions" occurred over regular cycles due to some astronomical phenomenon. It also looks at how humanity might protect itself against future impacts. Although the dinosaur section is a bit dated now that a likely crater has been found off the coast of Mexico, the discussion of the cosmic cycles in vogue during the mid 1980's is still a good read.


Space Exploration

by John Davies. W and R Chambers Ltd. Edinburgh 1992 ISBN 0 550 17013 8. With 275 pages and about 100 black and white photographs.

One of the Chambers Compact Reference series this comprises about 100 self contained articles on different aspects of space exploration. There are quite a lot of useful tables of launches and mission summaries which makes it a good place to go for quick research on a particular topic. Not intended to be read from cover to cover in order, but rather for teachers, journalists, students and parents to quickly find out about various aspects of space technology when they need facts fast.


Satellite Astronomy, The Principles and Practice of Astronomy from Space

by John K Davies. Ellis Horwood Ltd, Chichester, 1988. ISBN 0-7458-02320-X. With 198 pages and many black and white photographs. Out of print now and replaced by its successor edition

Astronomy from Space.

by John K Davies. Praxis publishing, Chichester 1997. ISBN 0-471-96258-9 and 0-471-96018-7. With 317 pages and lots of black and white photographs.

These two books provide a comprehensive overview of how astronomical satellites are designed, built and operated. Just about every satellite ever used for astronomy from space is described and for most of the major missions there are descriptions of the major scientific highlights. Tables provide launch dates and orbital parameters for easy reference. The second one is a greatly expanded and updated edition with many more pages, better photographs and new information added throughout the text.


Beyond Pluto

by John Davies. Cambridge University Press. 19 July 2001

Around 225 pages and about 50 black and white photographs and diagrams. Click on title above for more details from CUP web-site

The solar system has more than doubled in size since 1992. For the first time in almost 2 centuries an entirely new population of planetary objects has been found. This "Kuiper Belt" of small planets beyond Neptune has revolutionised our understanding of how the solar system formed and finally explained the origin of the enigmatic outer planet Pluto. This is the story of how theoretical physicists decided that there must be a population of unknown bodies beyond Neptune and how a small band of astronomers set out to find them. What they discovered was a family of ancient planetesimals whose orbits and physical properties were far more complicated than anyone expected. We follow the story of this discovery, and see how astronomers, theoretical physicists and one incredibly dedicated amateur observer have come together to explore the new frontier of the solar system.

The Life Story of An Infrared Telescope (The UKIRT story)

A history of UKIRT from its conception to the point it was given away to the University Of Hawaii in 2014. It was a real labour of love, I just had to do it before all of us who worked there lost our memories. I have had some very favourable feedback, so a huge mahalo to everyone who helped.


John Keith Davies
Astronomy Technology Centre, Royal Observatory, Blackford Hill, Edinburgh, EH9 3HJ
tel: (44) 0131 668 8348 / fax: (44) 0131 662 1668/

Return to
John Davies' homepage