By Paul Sutherland

The laws of astrophysics state that the universe is expanding, but in 2006 when the International Astronomical Union “demoted” Pluto from a planet to a dwarf “plutoid”, our neighbourhood in it shrank by about 2,543,166,000 km. It created quite a stir, for a planet that had only been discovered in 1930. Astronomy has come a long way in the past century, with the spaceships Voyager 1 and 2 making their trips to infinity and beyond, sending back data along the way, and the powerful Hubble telescope able to capture images of our planets and deep space that are more incredible than any artists’ imagination. All the “news” from our solar system is contained in this well-organized book. The sun and each planet has a chapter dedicated to it and their moons or satellites, and our moon gets one of its own (because it’s ours), plus there are separate chapters on asteroids, comets, and “extra-solar” planets. Mars gets some extra treatment because of the excitement Rover created in finding bacterial fossils, ice and what appeared to be the ‘face of Mars’. One whole section tells you how to observe these heavenly bodies, with the help of the planisphere (included in the book’s cover) which can be set to show what you can see in the sky on any given date and time – if you can escape all our light pollution. There are loads of pictures, Hubble photographs, artists’ renderings and quaint illustrations of superstitions about our past beliefs, more astrological than astronomical. There are side-bar tidbits in each chapter designed to fuel deeper interest in these cosmological spheres, and the author includes a glossary and index for quick references. On a clear night this summer, throw a little planet-gazing into your star-gazing and learn a little more about our place in the universe. Click here to find Where Did Pluto Go? in our on-line catalogue.


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