Other Worlds: A Beginners Guide to Planets and Moons

Overview

What are other planets like? Do they have air and clouds? Water and rocks? Could we walk on the moons of Saturn? Are there planets orbiting around other stars?

Using colorfully dramatic but scientifically accurate illustrations, as well as the latest spacecraft and Hubble Space Telescope portraits of other worlds, Terence Dickinson answers these questions and more in Other Worlds, a fact- and fun-filled tour of the solar system's 9 planets, ...

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Overview

What are other planets like? Do they have air and clouds? Water and rocks? Could we walk on the moons of Saturn? Are there planets orbiting around other stars?

Using colorfully dramatic but scientifically accurate illustrations, as well as the latest spacecraft and Hubble Space Telescope portraits of other worlds, Terence Dickinson answers these questions and more in Other Worlds, a fact- and fun-filled tour of the solar system's 9 planets, their 61 known moons and the suspected planets of other stars in our galaxy.

Stand on the rim of a Martian canyon, watch solar systems being born, visit a sulfur-spewing volcano on Jupiter's moon Io (pronounced EYE-oh), plunge into the red atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan and gaze at the swirling su! rface of a brown dwarf. Travel with award-winning astronomy writer Dickinson on this gigantic odyssey on Other Worlds, his latest book for young readers.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Judy Katsh
With obvious knowledge, interest and curiosity, Dickinson writes about the solar system in this lavishly illustrated little reference book. Each article focuses on a different heavenly body explaining its characteristics, history, and relative interest to Earthlings using clearly written text, photographs, and diagrams. Space fans will find as much to like here as report writers will. The information is concise, up-to date, and well organized enough to please the researchers-and the tone of the prose is fascinating and mystifying enough to please those who like to sit back and ponder the facts, fictions, and fantasies of deep space.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-9An up-to-date introduction to the solar system, illustrated with sharply reproduced full-color photos and paintings and excellent charts that convey a good idea of the relative sizes and distances under discussion. Dickinson's narration combines a conversational style with laudable accuracy as he describes planets, moons, comets, brown dwarfs, and the search for evidence of other planetary systems. A chronology of planetary exploration and tables of statistics on the planets and moons are appended. The book's only drawbacks are its small print; slightly cramped, three-column format; and gray bars behind page numbers that make them almost unreadable. Nonetheless, this is a good step up from Patricia Lauber's outstanding Journey to the Planets (Crown, 1993).Margaret Chatham, Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library of Fairfax County Library System, VA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781895565706
  • Publisher: Firefly Books, Limited
  • Publication date: 9/1/1995
  • Pages: 64
  • Age range: 10 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 1200L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.05 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Terence Dickinson is the best-selling author of Nightwatch and The Backyard Astronomer's Guide. More than one million of his previous titles are in print in three languages. He has received many national and international science awards including the New York Academy of Sciences Book of the Year Award and the Astronomical Society of the Pacific's Klumpke-Roberts Award for "excellence in communicating astronomy to the public." Previous recipients include Carl Sagan and Isaac Asimov.

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Read an Excerpt

Worlds in Space

When I was about 9 years old, I discovered that other worlds exist. Since this was during the early 1950s, before most homes had television, including mine, the only place I could see another world -- another planet -- was in a book. That's how I made my discovery.

In school one day, I happened to open the classroom atlas, a huge book occasionally used by my teacher. Near the front of the atlas was a small section about the universe. My attention was instantly fixed on an illustration on one of those pages, a painting that showed the nine planets of the solar system strung out in a row. For the first time, I realized we knew the sizes of these other worlds that orbit the Sun along with Earth. They had dignified names such as Neptune, Mercury and Jupiter. But I remember something else too: The surfaces of these worlds -- all of them except Earth -- were almost blank. Just smudges or vague cloud belts appeared.

How things have changed! Now, not only do we know exactly what the planets look like close up, but know what these worlds and their moons are made of and the temperature and composition of their atmospheres. We have measured their sizes to an accuracy of a few kilometers. We have mapped and named mountains on Venus, canyons on Mars and giant valleys on Saturn's moon Tethys. Today, we can predict with confidence what it would be like to stand on any of the 9 planets and their 61 known moons -- or at least on those that have solid surfaces!

Virtually everything we have learned about the planets and their moons has been gathered during the quarter-century beginning about 1965, a period astronomer Carl Sagan has called "the golden age of planetary exploration." In that span -- slightly longer than one human generation -- space probes have visited every planet except Pluto. Specially equipped landers have sent back images from the surface of Mars and of Venus. And almost every month now, the Hubble Space Telescope turns its penetrating gaze towards our neighbor worlds, the planets and their moons.

Sometime during the 21st century, humans will set foot on the orangish sands of Mars. In the more distant future, explorers will reach Pluto, the ice world at the rim of the solar system. There, when they turn away from the Sun, these interplanetary astronauts will look toward the stars beyond and see them as the next frontier.

But exploring the planets and traveling to the stars are two very different enterprises. If the Sun were the size of a baseball sitting on home plate in Yankee Stadium in New York City, Earth would be about the size of the ball in a ball-point pen lying in the grass eight meters (26 ft) away. Pluto, the size of a grain of sand, would be in the last row of seats in the stadium, while the other planets would be scattered between there and home plate. But the nearest star, Alpha Centauri, would be in Winnipeg, Manitoba. And the next nearest star would be in Tucson, Arizona.

Travel to the stars is clearly out of the question for the near future, but there are billions of stars out there that could have planets orbiting them -- possibly even a world like Earth.
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Table of Contents

Worlds in Space
The Planets and Their Moons
Overview of the Universe
Origin of the Planets
The Earth's Moon
Mars
Martian Landscapes
Venus
Mercury
Asteroids
Jupiter
IO
Europa
Ganymede and Callisto
Saturn
Titan
Other Moons of Saturn
Uranus
Neptune
Triton
Pluto
The Kuiper Belt
Comets
Comet Crash on Jupiter
Brown Dwarfs
Other Planetary Systems
Pulsar Planets
Planetary Exploration
The Sun and Its Planets
Moons of the Planets

Sources
The Author and Credits
Index
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2003

    Wondrous, to Both Child and Adult

    This lovely, small book packs a great deal of information into a readable, well organized format. Interesting and engaging enough for an adult reader, yet straightforward enough for a child to understand, I defy anyone to pick it up and not be charmed â¿¿ and informed. It would certainly nurture an interest in the subject, in a child. Breathtaking reproductions of paintings and photographs, informative graphs and charts. This is a relaxing read, not so much intellectually challenging, as just plain interesting. A great gift for anyone, a clever gift for the hard-to-buy-for, and even wonderful - if a little unexpected - for the coffee table.

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