Beyond: A Solar System Voyage

Overview


Discover what the solar system looks like up close in this definitive collection of space exploration images. Since the 1960s, NASA has been sending unmanned satellites to explore the planets, moons, and sun. These probes have amassed a stunning visual record of other worlds, revealing not one but scores of new frontiers, from rust-red Mars to Saturn with its ethereal rings. Michael Benson has pulled together the most spectacular of these images into a volume that focuses on the awesome appearance of these ...
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Overview


Discover what the solar system looks like up close in this definitive collection of space exploration images. Since the 1960s, NASA has been sending unmanned satellites to explore the planets, moons, and sun. These probes have amassed a stunning visual record of other worlds, revealing not one but scores of new frontiers, from rust-red Mars to Saturn with its ethereal rings. Michael Benson has pulled together the most spectacular of these images into a volume that focuses on the awesome appearance of these celestial bodies. He discusses what the photos actually reveal about the places in simple language children will understand. The book includes a glossary, a bibliography, and an index.
 

“Dramatic, unframed color photos on thick glossy paper…the science details are just as exciting as the pictures. Starting with a long chapter on the early history of astronomy, Benson examines the Solar System from the perspectives of robot explorers launched in the last 60 years. He also gives in-depth descriptions of how the photos were taken by unmanned spacecraft…The informal text raises the big questions that will captivate young readers: Are we alone in the universe? Has Mars ever supported life? Does life exist there now? Or elsewhere? More than 20 space probes are in action right now, and engaged readers will want to reference the listed Web sites. The comprehensive glossary is also a handy resource.”—Booklist
 
“A mesmerizing grand tour of solar-system high spots. Gathered with the premise that they are significant achievements in the history of not just science, but photography as well, these big, sharply detailed images were all taken by (specifically) space probes and were chosen for their visual impact…the photos range from a primitive 1967 composite shot of the Moon to haunting close-up views of mysterious Neptune and its moon Triton taken by Voyager 2 in 1989…our nearest neighbors in space have never looked better.”—Kirkus Reviews

F&P level: Z
F&P genre: I

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
Space and the moon landing are in focus for the year 2009 and especially the month of July which brings us the 40th anniversary of the moon landing. Fabulous as that was, what we have learned about our solar system and beyond is just as exciting. Most of this knowledge has been gleaned by unmanned space probes which have become more and more sophisticated and send back incredible pictures like the ones on the jacket of this book. Saturn and its rings are enough to entice most any reader to open up this book. The back cover depicts Jupiter and the actual hard cover of the book features two pictures from planet Mars, which is one of the upcoming targets of human exploration. The organization of the book is one that appeals to me—there is a brief history featuring early thinkers and astronomers and how they saw the solar system. It may be eye-opening for some to realize that the Assyrian's made star charts and that the Babylonians were able to predict eclipses. Some names like Galileo and Copernicus will be familiar, as may be the name of the first man to travel in space, Russia's Yuri Gagarin. His accomplishment spurred the U.S. to establish NASA and get really serious about putting a man on the Moon. The book addresses the history of space exploration chronologically, as men built probes that could photograph the moon and show its backside for the first time, and then moves on to cover probes that could stand the incredible heat of Venus and Mercury and the freezing cold of Mars and the outer planets. The photographs are something to savor: gorgeous shots of the Earth, Sun, Mars and so much more. One spread shows a sunset on Mars, which is the reverse of what we see on Earth.Others show moons, planets, and planetary rings, as well as land forms and volcanic activity on these distant worlds. Pictures are set on black pages with the text printed in white, which may be a little challenging for young readers, although the text itself could be read by someone in middle school. The closing pages comment on the "astonishing process of discovery that has led us to our current understanding of our Solar System and the greater Galaxy and Universe." There is a glossary, index, and notes and photo credits as well as a selected bibliography and list of web sites. This book would make a great addition to any middle school or public library. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up

An appealing presentation based on stunning photos taken by numerous space probes. Arranged according to the order in which robot probes visited and photographed the Earth, Moon, Sun, the other seven planets, their moons, and the asteroids, the book is a more visual introduction to the sights, landscapes, and diversity of the Solar System, with enough data to understand the photos and the basics of each celestial body. Beginning with a brief history of astronomy related to the Solar System, each chapter includes the historical development of human understanding of the Sun's family. Benson explains that Pluto and other dwarf planets, as well as comets, are not included, as they have not been photographed as yet by space probes. Text and captions effectively explain the outstanding color images, although a reference to the fictitious "centrifugal force" in explaining the shape of Jupiter is troubling. There is a thorough index; each photo is credited to the probe that shot it; and an excellent glossary helps with unfamiliar terms. Benson succeeds not only in showing young people the beauty of almost the entire Solar System, but also in reinforcing the value and relative low cost of uncrewed space exploration.-Jeffrey A. French, formerly at Willoughby-Eastlake Public Library, Willowick, OH

Kirkus Reviews
This bargain edition of Beyond: Visions of the Interplanetary Probes (2003) may lack the double gatefolds, more than half of the pictures and the Arthur C. Clarke introduction, but it does still offer a mesmerizing grand tour of solar-system high spots. Gathered with the premise that they are significant achievements in the history of not just science, but photography as well, these big, sharply detailed images were all taken by (specified) space probes and were chosen for their visual impact. Arranged roughly in the order in which they were taken, the photos range from a primitive 1967 composite shot of the Moon to haunting close-up views of mysterious Neptune and its moon Triton taken by Voyager 2 in 1989. Benson includes several asteroids, but not comets or dwarf planets because, he claims, decent photos of these do not yet exist. Except where they descend into outright error (Venus is not "by far the hottest place in the solar system"), the accompanying text and captions just rehash commonly available facts, but our nearest neighbors in space have never looked better. (glossary, notes, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810983229
  • Publisher: Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/1/2009
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 423,619
  • Age range: 8 - 14 Years
  • Lexile: 1210L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author


Michael Benson is a journalist and maker of documentary films, including the award-winning Predictions of Fire (1995). His work has been published in the New York Times, the New Yorker, and Smithsonian, among other publications, and he has been a television (CNN) and radio (NPR) reporter. He is also the author of the Abrams bestseller Beyond: Visions of the Interplanetary Probes. He lives in New York City.
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