Solar System. Book Review

Solar System. By Marcus Chown.

When he was four, my son became very interested in everything about space. This was to such an extent that almost of his birthday and Christmas presents ended up being space related. When he was given a cuddly toy he named it Enceladus.

He devoured all the books he was bought, then after about a year, he moved on to other interests. Now aged seven, older and wiser, he is re-entering his space obsession. This book was one of the favoured ones when he was four, and it is a regular part of our evening reading now. At the moment, our routine is to read a section of Solar System and follow it up with ten minutes or so of Brian Cox’s Wonders of the Solar System.

Marcus Chown’s book appealed to him previously I think due to it’s very attractive layout. It is illustrated beautifully. Many of the discoveries in the book happened within my lifetime, and I can remember some of the featured images on news reports, or on “the Sky at Night.” There are however many pictures in here I had not seen before. The pictures are almost uniformly spectacular. That the visuals work so well is probably a consequence of this book starting life as an iPad app.

The non photographic illustrations and diagrams are clear, attractive and understandable and follow a consistent look throughout.

Thematically the book follows a grand tour of the solar system. After an overview of what the solar system is and it’s likely origins, we travel from the sun to all the major bodies. Plus a lot more you may not have heard of.

The text is also excellent. There is a good balance between historical context, authoritative explanations and descriptions, and where appropriate scientific uncertainty. This is not a kids book. My son enjoyed it and has learned a lot from it, but so did I. The attractiveness of the overall product allows it to scale very well according to the ability of the reader to understand, from curious child to amateur astronomer.

In short therefore. I heartily recommend this book.

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