A lavishly illustrated guide to the planets and their moons for introductory students and general readers.
These two volumes serve very different purposes: one is a compact, fact-packed field guide, while the other takes a more in-depth look at the solar system. In The Solar System, edited by science journalist Caprara, chapters on the sun, planets, and minor bodies discuss the physical characteristics of these objects as well as the history of their exploration. Several asides explain relevant physical processes extremely well. The entire text is amplified by high-quality images and graphics. The index is brief but useful, and both a bibliography and a short list of web sites are included. Despite the book's small size, it provides a great deal of well-organized information, making it a good addition to any ready-reference collection. [An Astronomy Book Club and Discovery Book Club selection.] In contrast, The Cambridge Guide to the Solar System is a cross between an encyclopedia and an introductory textbook. Beginning with in-depth conceptual chapters that cover our historical and current scientific understanding of the solar system, Lang (astronomy, Tufts Univ.; The Sun from Space) continues with chapters on the Moon, the Earth, and various other planets, and "Remnants of Creation," e.g., comets and asteroids. There is one minor flaw that detracts from this volume's utility as a reference tool (although it does not hamper its value as a textbook): Pluto does not appear anywhere in the table of contents. The author's discussion of Pluto can be accessed only by use of the index. On the other hand, the work overall is very well done, following in the tradition of the author's well-received The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the Sun, with readable, high-quality articles supplemented with excellent pictures and graphics. A directory of web sites and a bibliography for further reading enhance the volume. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries.-Barbarly Korper McConnell, California State Univ. Lib., Fullerton Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.