Beyond Earth's small, red neighbor Mars lie the gaseous, giant planets of the Outer Solar System. This book investigates these behemoths and dwarf planet Pluto, as well as other curiosities within the solar system's farthest reaches, such as asteroid fields and the Kuiper belt.
This seven volume set presents a survey of history, concepts, and theories of astronomy and space exploration. The first volume in the series traces the history of astronomy and astronomical thought. This is followed with a volume discussing the development of astronomical equipment. Other volumes explore the inner and the outer planets of the solar system, stars, and both manned and unmanned spaceflight. Each volume is heavily illustrated with black and white photographs and diagrams, one- or two-paragraph capsule descriptions of people or events related to the volume's topic, a glossary, an index, and a list for further reading. The set is an excellent introduction to astronomy and space exploration. The text is at a middle-school level, and is broken into chunks with bold headings. Explanations of astronomical concepts seldom go deeper than an eighth-grade science textbook. The pages are amply illustrated with lots of white space. Charts highlight key concepts and tables provide lists of data (such as a planet's rotation period and distance from the sun or the first person to make a spacewalk). While the information contained in the set is widely available elsewhere (and in color), the set succeeds in collating many disparate bits of information into a cohesive whole. This set would be a good first stop for students preparing science research papers. Reviewer: Steven Kral