In this Dutch master thesis I study the amount of popular scientific books about astronomy appeared in the Netherlands during the nineteenth and twentieth century, and how it was popularized.
First I looked into several catalogues to discover how many astronomy and astrophysics books have appeared during the nineteenth and twentieth century, and how many of them are popular scientific. At that last portion I look at trends in the publication of these books, the differences between translations and original Dutch books, the important publishers for this genre and the authors who wrote most books with this subject. From this data I constructed a descriptive model.
Then I described the different techniques used in these books to make the science popular, after which I looked into several books to see which ones were used. I analyse the use of these techniques in an overview.
From these two parts I deduced that during the 1850's Frederik Kaiser, an astronomer from Leiden, caused both a peak in the book production as a change in the way astronomy is made popular. In the twentieth century several astronomers revived astronomy, leading to two generations of authors actively writing popular scientific books, causing a strong increase in the amount of published books.
The following publications resulted from my master thesis:
De kosmos op een presenteerblad: populairwetenschappelijke boeken over sterrenkunde verschenen van 1801 - 2000
G.W.H. van den Akker. Master Thesis. Universiteit van Amsterdam. March 2013.
In the research and writing process, I used several computer programs:
LaTeX: LaTeX is a document markup language and document preparation system. In contrast to wysiwyg text editors such as Word, you only see the result after compiling the source. But once you created a template or framework, you can reuse it and thus concentrate on the text and contents of the text, instead of having to trouble yourself with trivialities like the placement of illustrations or footnotes. Even tough I used Commowick's template, it requires understanding of the program to fully optimize and customize it.
PGFPlots: This package for LaTeX makes it easy to plot results in a wide variety of graphs and other representations. All my graphical results were plotted with this package, making it easier to implement them in my by LaTeX generated thesis.
Gimp: Gimp is an image retouching and editing tool. I used it for example to create the front cover by combining several old books and an image of the galaxy UGC 1810.
GoogleDocs: GoogleDocs is a web-based office suite comparable to Microsoft Office. In the progress of data gathering, I used the spreadsheat not only to store the results and share it with my supervisor, but also used it to calculate several results.
I used the LaTeX template from Olivier Commowick's PHD thesis as a basis for my master thesis, which can be found over here. I noticed that his template is very easily adjusted to your own needs, so if you're writing a thesis, you might want to consider looking at his work.