Death from the Skies!

Death from the Skies!: These Are The Ways The World Will End is a book by the American astronomer Phil Plait, also known as "the Bad Astronomer". The book was published in 2008 and explores the various ways in which the human race could be rendered extinct by astronomical phenomena.

Death from the Skies!
Hardcover of Death from the Skies!
AuthorPhilip C. Plait
PublisherViking Adult
Publication date
October 16, 2008


The author stated during an interview that one of the reasons for writing the book was that "the Universe is incredibly inhospitable, yet we have this planet that's doing OK by us. Another is that the Universe is incredibly cool and interesting. Black holes are really fun to think about. Actually, most of this is mind-stretching and fun. What happens to the Sun after 100 quadrillion years? One hundred octillion? A googol?"[1] He also said that the reason for using doomsday scenarios was to take a scientific viewpoint, make it like a roller coaster or horror movie to make it fun and exciting. The stories were not to scare people out of their pants but make it cool to read about it.[2]

Some of the subjects discussed in the bookEdit

Astronomical Event Estimated Probability of Causing Death Commentary
Asteroid impacts 1 in 700,000 in a human lifetime May be able to prevent impact.[3]
Solar flares 0 probability directly attributed to event Energy from eruption may damage power grid on a global scale which may cause many deaths. Developing robust power grids may prevent massive failure.[4]
Supernovae explosions 1 in 10,000,000 Death from ozone depletion and radiation if the supernova is less than 25 light years from Earth.[5]
Gamma ray bursts 1 in 14,000,000 Death from radiation and ozone depletion from burst 7,000 light years away if the Earth is inside the path of the energy beam.[6]
Heat death of the Universe Inevitable Any remaining objects unlikely to interact after the decay of protons and the evaporation of black holes. The estimated time scale for this era is beyond 1092 years.[7]


The book has had positive reviews from Todd Dailey of Wired Magazine,[8] Nancy Atkinson of Universe Today,[9] and Rebecca Watson from Skepchick.[10] It was also reviewed for Smithsonian magazine by Sarah Zielinski.[11]

Appearances in Other MediaEdit

In 2010 the Discovery Channel had a documentary called Phil Plait's Bad Universe. This show was based on a few chapters of the book.[12] George Hrab and Phil Plait recorded a song called "Death from the Skies" whose lyrics is based on some of the events covered in the book.[13]


  1. ^ Brotherton, Mike (3 November 2008). "Interview with the Bad Astronomer, Phil Plait, about Death from the Skies". Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  2. ^ Steve Novella (22 October 2008). "Podcast #170". The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe (Podcast). Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  3. ^ Plait, Phil (2008). Death from the Skies. Viking Adult. p. 298. ISBN 9780670019977.
  4. ^ Plait, Phil (2008). Death from the Skies. Viking Adult. p. 299. ISBN 9780670019977.
  5. ^ Plait, Phil (2008). Death from the Skies. Viking Adult. pp. 299, 301. ISBN 9780670019977.
  6. ^ Plait, Phil (2008). Death from the Skies. Viking Adult. p. 301. ISBN 9780670019977.
  7. ^ Plait, Phil (2008). Death from the Skies. Viking Adult. pp. 287–290. ISBN 9780670019977.
  8. ^ Dailey, Todd. "Book Review: Death From The Skies!". Wired. Wired. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  9. ^ Atkinson, Nancy (April 13, 2009). "Review: Death From the Skies". Retrieved 28 October 2015.
  10. ^ Watson, Rebecca (14 October 2008). "Book Review: DEATH FROM THE SKIES! by Phil Plait". Skepchick. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  11. ^ Zielinski, Sarah (24 August 2009). "Death from the Skies!". Smithsonian. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
  12. ^ Blum, Matt. "Phil Plait's Bad Universe, the Interview". Wired. Wired. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  13. ^ Hrab, George. "Geo Audio: Death From The Skies (Lazy Sunday version)". Geologic Podcast. Geologic Podcast. Retrieved 30 June 2014.

External linksEdit

Press interviewsEdit