Planet Quest


A leading astronomer provides an ?excellent introduction? (New York Times Book Review) to the search for faraway planets and extraterrestrial life-a ?fascinating? guide (Astronomy) that is ?everything a good science-for-the-public book should be? (Cleveland Plain Dealer). Black-and-white photographs.

Read More Show Less
... See more details below
Available through our Marketplace sellers.
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (20) from $1.99   
  • New (2) from $3.03   
  • Used (18) from $1.99   
Sort by
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any coupons and promotions
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:



New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.

Trade paperback. Not a first edition copy. NEW. Stored in sealed plastic protection. No pricing stickers. No remainder mark. No price clip. No previous owner's markings. In the ... event of problems we guarantee full refund. 1998. Trade paperback. Read more Show Less

Ships from: Aurora, IL

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:


Condition: New
Brand new.

Ships from: acton, MA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Sort by
Sending request ...


A leading astronomer provides an “excellent introduction” (New York Times Book Review) to the search for faraway planets and extraterrestrial life-a “fascinating” guide (Astronomy) that is “everything a good science-for-the-public book should be” (Cleveland Plain Dealer). Black-and-white photographs.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

John Durant
Fascinating and worthwhile. -- The New York Times Book Review
New Scientist
Excellent...the detailed research Croswell has put into his book makes it a joy for any student of the subject. I find it hard to see how anyone could have done a better job in bringing this exciting field to the general reader.
Strewn with fascinating discoveries...Croswell does a magnificent job of providing a broad perspective of the entire subject.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In a book as rich in story as it is in science, Croswell (The Alchemy of the Heavens) takes readers on an epic journey through time and space. The story opens in Rome on February 17, 1600, where defrocked priest Giordano Bruno is being led to his execution; it ends on the threshold of interstellar exploration. To Bruno, who lost his life for proclaiming an infinite universe filled with stars and planets beyond imagining, science was not the enemy of religion but the tool of revelation of God's infinite splendor. To Croswell, the actions of Bruno's accusers demonstrated what they most feared: the insignificance of their individual lives. This book, filled with stories of disappointment and triumph, of missed opportunity and unexpected discovery, recounts four centuries of intertwining quests for grand ideas and individual glory by scientists and philosophers struggling to make sense of our place in the cosmos. It tells of three contentious solar planets "discovered" at various times: one (Vulcan, inside Mercury's orbit) was proven not to exist; one (Planet X, beyond Neptune and Pluto) was once avidly sought but now seems chimerical; and one (Pluto) may simply be part of a "cometary belt" beyond Neptune. Tales of scientific competition and serendipitous discovery, premature claims and heroic admissions of error mark the quest to become the 20th-century Columbus, the discoverer of the first extra-solar world. Soon the number of known planets beyond the solar system will far exceed the nine in our small neighborhood. We are poised, Croswell shows in his exceptional book, on an era of planet quest that promises to propagate the best and worst of humanity to other stars and worlds.
Library Journal
After summarizing the history of the discovery of the outer planets in our solar system, science writer Croswell (The Alchemy of the Heavens) moves on to the exciting, and apparently authentic, recent discoveries of planets revolving around stars other than our Sun. He tells of a variety of premature "discoveries" that could not be confirmed and of more soundly based findings in the 1990s. He explains well the scientific basis of the search for remote planets and is candid about the rivalries and disagreements among the ambitious researchers in this field. Despite a speculative last chapter on the prospects for interstellar travel, Croswell wisely concentrates in general on the science (not the science fiction) of planetary searching. Highly recommended for both public and academic libraries. Jack W. Weigel, Univ. of Michigan Lib., Ann Arbor
Kirkus Reviews
A lively, timely history of the search for extrasolar planets—today's hottest astronomical game. Croswell, an astronomer and journalist (The Alchemy of the Heavens), relates how, beginning with William Herschel's 1781 discovery of Uranus, the search for new planets became a holy grail for astronomers; Neptune, Pluto, and the asteroids followed in due course. ("Planet X," believed by some astronomers to account for perturbations in the orbit of Uranus, remains undiscovered.) But planets beyond our own system seemed too remote for even the best telescopes to spot—the nearest star system being 25 trillion miles away, and others millions of times farther than that. At that distance, only indirect methods can apply, in particular, measuring minute fluctuations in the motions of stars, which a sufficiently large planet would cause. Such fluctuations have been reported, and ascribed to distant planets, since the 1940s. But until very recently, better observations have usually deflated the discoverers' claims. (One prominent astronomer's claim of periodic motions of Barnard's Star was finally explained by a periodic wobble in his telescope.) The space age made newer techniques available. A large planet would be expected to emit large amounts of infrared light, and when the bright star Vega was found to be unexpectedly energetic in the infrared, it was taken by some as evidence of planets. (A ring of dust is the more likely answer.) These and other false alarms were the entire story until 1995, when two Swiss astronomers reported a large object in orbit around 51 Pegasi, now considered the first observation of an extrasolar planet. Croswell provides engaging portraits of theastronomers (from Giordano Bruno through Geoffrey Marcy, one of those who discovered 51 Pegasi's planet) as well as a clear, lively summary of the scientific material. A thoroughly readable addition to the astronomy bookshelf.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780156006125
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 9/30/1998
  • Series: Harvest Book Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 9.01 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: Bruno's Execution
1 A Good Planet is Hard to Find 1
2 A Living Solar System 10
3 The Sun's Distant Outposts 32
4 Planet X 56
5 A Shaky Start 72
6 The Vega Phenomenon 100
7 Dark Star 114
8 Pulsar Planets 132
9 Thanks, Jupiter 161
10 Harvest of Planets 180
11 Future Worlds 218
12 Into the Cosmos 235
Catalogue of Planets 249
Glossary 253
Notes 283
Bibliography 292
Index 313
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)