In an effort to better understand the place occupied by humans in the universe, Mark Kidger explores an array of thought-provoking questions associated with astronomical mysteries. His first questions in Astronomical Enigmas: Life on Mars, the Star of Bethlehem & Other Milky Way Mysteries deal with historical developments in astronomy, including how the stars were named and the heavens mapped. The development of Stonehenge, possibly the oldest astronomical observatory in the world, is investigated. Kidger concludes that the geometry of the stone assemblage indicates that it was probably established to time astronomical events. Delving into the mystery of the Star of Bethlehem, Kidger surmises that it may have been a nova that is historically documented as a harbinger of important events and coincides with the right period of time.
Exploring the present-day solar system, Kidger ponders over theories involving the origin of the moon and its place as a possible base for future exploration of space. Based upon data recently acquired from Mars, the question of the existence of life on the Red Planet is addressed. Kidger concludes that it is uncertain. If there is any life there, it is probably rather simple and hidden underneath the surface. Moving outward into the solar system, the discovery of Pluto, and whether or not it should be classified as a planet, is explored.
Kidger's final investigation deals with possible future astronomical events and space exploration. Will the Earth have a catastrophic encounter with an asteroid or comet? Will there be a runaway greenhouse effect on Earth? Where are other reasonable locations for human settlement in the solar system? Kidger provides justification for future manned space flights. Sixty-four images and illustrations, mostly in color, add to this fascinating read.