Cover image for The Cambridge guide to the solar system
The Cambridge guide to the solar system
Lang, Kenneth R.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge, U.K. ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2003.
Physical Description:
xv, 452 pages : illustrations (some color), maps ; 29 cm
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library QB501 .L24 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize
Central Library QB501 .L24 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize

On Order



The Cambridge Guide to the Solar System provides a comprehensive and up-to-date description of the planets and their moons. Writing at an introductory level appropriate for high school and undergraduate students, Professor Lang leads the reader on a fascinating journey of exploration to the worlds beyond our home planet Earth. The book begins with a short introduction to the history of planetary observation and discovery. The major planets and their moons are then introduced by presenting common properties, processes, and themes. This is followed by chapters which focus on individual planets and other solar system objects, including a comprehensive treatment of the various space missions: from the Apollo missions to the Moon, to recent missions to Jupiter and Mars. Filled with vital facts and information, and lavishly illustrated in colour throughout, this book will also appeal to professionals as well as general readers with an interest in planetary science.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Libraries will find a use for this book both in the reference and in the circulating collections. The photographs are stunning, the numerous charts and graphs are exemplary, and the narrative is bulging with all the important information about the solar system that is available to date. The author has done a wonderful job of making many of the complicated scientific concepts accessible to the layperson. The language is challenging for students younger than high school, but many of the charts, graphs, maps, captions, sidebars, and introductions should be understandable to middle-school readers. The beginning chapters are an overview of the field of space science, with emphasis on discoveries, discoverers, and tools. The major planets and the moon have their own chapters. Uranus and Neptune are treated in the same chapter, because they are so similar. Pluto has no chapter at all, because it is no longer considered a major planet. Chapters on comets, asteroids and meteorites, and colliding worlds end the narrative. The lengthy chapters follow the same layout, beginning with lists of important fundamental facts, histories of explorations and discoveries, and descriptions of the atmosphere, landforms, and moons. Each planet chapter ends with a summary diagram of the essential makeup of the planet. The numerous photographs are a balanced mixture of large black and white and color, most from NASA files. There are rich appendixes of books and Web sites and a good index. Anyone with a need for information on the solar system should find fulfillment in the pages of this handsome work, and it is a beautiful browsing book. More current and less technical than Encyclopedia of the Solar System (Academic, 1998), it is recommended for high-school, public, and academic libraries. -- RBB Copyright 2004 Booklist

Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Noted astronomer and author Lang (Tufts Univ.) has produced a new book in a field moving so fast that its predecessors have rapidly become obsolete. He provides an overall view of the solar system, the planets and their moons, comets, asteroids, and meteorites and aptly describes the results of the unmanned space probes responsible for the revolution in knowledge about the sun and its companions in space. The text is very readable; figures are exceptionally clear; the well-chosen color plates are excellent. Each chapter starts with a set of summary statements about chapter content and usually ends with a summary diagram. Focus boxes amplify more thoroughly the key points in the text. The book provides an Internet site that ties into a companion volume on the sun and also expands the textual content. Most interesting is a discussion of the probability of catastrophes on Earth caused by celestial impacts. There is a good six-page appendix on further reading with content explanation, a two-page summary of Web sites broken down by topics, and an extensive 15-page index. A good modern summary and reference for professionals. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended; high school students and all other levels. W. E. Howard III formerly, Universities Space Research Association

Table of Contents

Principal units
Part I Changing Views and Fundamental Concepts
1 Evolving perspectives - a historical prologue
2 The new, close-up view from space
3 The invisible buffer zone with space - atmospheres, magnetospheres and the solar wind
Part II The Inner System - Rocky Worlds
4 Third rock from the Sun - restless Earth
5 The Moon: stepping stone to the planets
6 Mercury: a dense battered world
7 Venus: the veiled planet
8 Mars: the red planet
Part III The Giant Planets, Their Satellites and Their Rings - Worlds of Liquid, Ice and Gas
9 Jupiter: a giant primitive planet
10 Saturn: lord of the rings
11 Uranus and Neptune
Part IV Remnants of Creation - Small Worlds in the Solar System
12 Comets
13 Asteroids and meteorites
14 Colliding worlds
Appendix 1 Further reading
Appendix 2 Directory of web sites

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