The Sun: A Biography

(Revised Edition)

David Whitehouse
The Sun

In THE SUN, David Whitehouse takes us on a journey to the heart of our local star and beyond, relating how it was born, the many ways it influences life on Earth and how it will die. He recounts the many myths surrounding the Sun and the fascinating stories of scientists throughout history who have attempted to discover its secrets occasionally at the price of their lives.

THE SUN explores the role of the sun for those on Earth, from the earliest civilisations that worshipped it, through its emulation in art and literature to the present day. He describes the inferno at its core, the magnetic chaos of its surface and the furthest reaches of its atmosphere that stretches beyond the planets out into the galaxy. Within our lifetime he considers that changes in the sun will become noticeable, an issue that we ignore at our peril.

Finally, Whitehouse speculates on the future of life on Earth with a Sun that must ultimately turn into a red giant. From its birth in a cloud of gas and dust, its long lifetime nurturing life on our own planet, to its death as a cosmic cinder, this is our Sun’s story.

‘A treasure trove of science, speculation and anecdote about our star. Whitehouse touches on everything from the birth of the sun in a cold interstellar cloud to its predicted death as a bloated red giant.’ New Scientist

‘An intelligent safety-goggles-on look at [a] star that’s intrigued humankind since day one… wide-ranging and excellent.’ Insight

‘Understanding the nature of the sun is key to understanding our universe and to life on earth. Whitehouse skillfully weaves his extraordinary scientific knowledge with history, philosophy, archeology and religion to produce this fascinating account of the life and future of the sun.’ Aakdemia, Germany

‘Whitehouse has done an outstanding job.’ Sunday Telegraph

‘A staggering range of content… and a fascinating read.’ Good Book Guide

‘This is a well written and enjoyable account of the importance of this object in our lives, what we know about our nearest star and – just as important – how we know it. A particular strength of the book is that it places this knowledge in its social context, showing how such understanding contributed to the cosmologies of the time.’ Times Educational Supplement

‘A rich history of the Sun’s influence on humanity extends back for millennia, and Whitehouse lavishes loving attention on everybody from the Babylonians to the Chinese, from the Irish to the Aztecs. Once we get past the Scientific Revolution, a plethora of observations bolster the central story, which continues to explore human understanding of our parent star… Whitehouse tracks the divergent events and ideas with the dogged determination of a scientific sleuth resolved to turn up every available clue about the Sun and its history (and) has provided us with a spectacularly detailed written portrait of the Sun: rife with historical and scientific details, a story materializes about not just the detailed nature of Earth’s parent star, but also about the process by which science proceeds and the methodology of discovery.’ The Planetarian


  • Weidenfeld & Nicholson/ Orion UK (WEL)
  • Tsukiji Shokan Japan

Earlier version published by (all rights reverted):

  • John Wiley UK
  • Pearson Education Benelux Netherlands
  • Prozsynski-Ska Poland
  • Kailas Spain
  • Mondadori Italy
  • Naklada Ljevak Biblit Croatia
  • Eksmo Russia
  • Whistler Publishing Korea

Material: Previous English edition (344pp); full revised text.