I am reading my college level undergraduate astronomy textbook. It has lot of ínfromation but every page rises a similar question in my mind: "How do they know it?". It starts from simple things like radius of earth, other planets, masses, composition, distances of stars, temperatures, luminosities etc. How did scientists know these is a question that pops up in my mind about every fact I read. Do you have any book recommendations which mostly (if not exclusively) focuses on the question "How do scientists know it?"
There are books that treat the general history of astronomy, such as those mentioned in the previous post.
- The History of Astronomy: A Very Short Introduction by Michael Hoskin.
- History of Astronomy by George Forbes
Some books focus on discoveries from a certain period of history
- The Cosmic Century by Malcolm S. Longair details discoveries that were made in the twentieth century.
Other books retrace the "how we know it" of specific phenomena
Flash by Govert Schilling traces the story of how we discovered what we know about gamma ray bursts.
Cosmic noise : a history of early radio astronomy, by Sullivan, Woodruff Turner III focuses on what we learned from radio astronomy.
You could try The History of Astronomy: A Very Short Introduction by Michael Hoskin. Or, for a more detailed but more expensive textbook, The Cambridge Concise History of Astronomy edited by Michael Hoskin.
If you wanted to focus on one discovery that changed the world, I would suggest "Longitude" by Dava Sobel. It shows how something that could be dry - how navigators discovered what longitude was - is in fact a page-turning detective story. It was also made into a movie.