RANDY RHEA, circa 2000, is pictured with his telescope in New Mexico.
Messenger columnist and amateur astronomer Randy Rhea has written a new book just in time for Christmas gift giving, “Astronomy is Heavenly.”
Readers may recognize Rhea as the author of The Messenger’s monthly astronomy column. His new book is a guide to the history of astronomy and the beauty of the heavens.
“Astronomy is Heavenly” covers early astronomy, the Moon, the planets (and yes, poor Pluto), stars, telescopes, constellations, galaxies, black holes, the Big Bang, and aliens. The book includes over 120 color images to help tell the story of the heavens.
Who knew that a tool for measuring the universe’s size, Cepheid variable stars, was discovered by a woman who in 1912 was not allowed to use her observatory’s telescope?
Who has ever seen the planet Mercury? It’s bright and easy to find if observers know where and when to look.
There are dozens of telescopes larger than the Hubble Space Telescope, including one twice as large completed 70 years ago. So why is the Hubble so important?
Readers can learn the answers to these and other questions in Rhea’s new book.
Rhea says his passion for astronomy began at age 13 when he purchased a small telescope for $29.95 from Edmund Scientific with money earned mowing yards.
In 1995 he bought the University of Denver’s 24-inch Ritchey-Chrétien telescope and observatory on Mt. Evans, then the world’s highest observatory. He moved them to New Mexico.
“‘Astronomy is Heavenly’ would make a fine Christmas gift for those curious about nature or who wonder what they see in the sky,” says Rhea. “Or perhaps you’ve been doing a little more reading.”
Rhea is an electrical engineering graduate of the University of Illinois and Arizona State University. He came from Atlanta to Grady County with his wife of 51 years, Marilynn. They purchased and restored Susina Plantation in South Grady County. After 17 years of enjoying Susina, the Rheas moved to Thomasville but remain members of the Cairo First United Methodist Church.
Rhea operated Susina Plantation Winery, closing the winery when they moved to Thomasville. He is a trustee of Thomas University and the Christian Campus Fellowship at Georgia Tech. Marilynn Rhea has been a trustee of the Thomasville Entertainment Foundation and is currently serving at the Thomasville History Center.
Besides writing the newspaper column on astronomy and five engineering textbooks, Rhea has taught workshops on astronomy.
The Rheas have two adult children and five grandchildren.
The book is now available at the Bookshelf in Thomasville and amazon.com