Review: "Lives Of The Planets" by Robert Corfield

  • michaeloconnell
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Recently, I received a copy of Richard Cornfield's new book "Lives Of The Planets" from the publisher, Basic Books. Below is a short review of the book:

The aim of this new book is to explain how humanity developed her understanding of our own solar system and provider the reader with the latest information from the most recent space missions.

The book is divided into 10 logical chapters which cover the following: The Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth & Moon, Mars, Asteroids, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus & Neptune, and, Pluto & The Kuiper Belt. The layout of the book is entirely based around just the text with photos & diagrams limited to the middle 16 pages in glossy colour format.

In general, Richard commences each chapter with humanity's understanding of each planet from a few hundred years ago and brings the reader right up to date with recent results from the latest space probes, including Cassini, The Huygens probe, the Martian Rovers etc. So, the reader gets a good understanding of how our knowledge of each planet has improved over time.

The nature of Richard's writing is such that it's quite easy to read resulting in a real page-turner. It's clear that he is not only quite knowledge in this whole area (he's a visiting lecturer and researcher in the Centre for Earth, Planetary, Space and Astronomical Research at the Open University) but he also has a great enthusiasm for the subject, which makes for a book that's not only a joy to read but also contains lots of interesting nuggets of information on each solar system body. The style of his writing is such that he can intermingle the factual content into fascinating stories behind the people & space missions that gave us our knowledge of the solar system. For example, the chapter on Jupiter covers topics such as Galileo Galilei; developing the flight paths of the "Grand Tour", the rivalry between the NASA contractors who built the Voyager & Pioneer space probes; and the Galileo space probe to mention but a few.

To keep a long review short, this is the best astronomy-related book I've read in several years and I would not hesitate in giving it two thumbs up.

15 years 4 months ago #51759

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