Books : reviews

Michael Benson.
Beyond: visions of the interplanetary probes.
Abrams. 2003

rating : 2 : great stuff
review : 31 December 2003

When I was young my astronomy books had pictures of fuzzy blobs (planets) surrounded by dots (their moons), and Jupiter was shown with its Great Red Spot at the top (as seen, upside down, through telescopes). [volcano on Io] Now we have Jupiter up the right way, and beautiful photographs, detailed cartography, and even geological maps, of these planets, and of more moons than we ever knew existed. (Except Pluto. I'm considering a "probes off Pluto!" campaign -- so that there will always be at least one new planet to explore.)

This book collects together a stunning array of photographs from various interplanetary probes over the last few decades. (One of the most obvious advances is that the old checkerboard mosaic pictures have here been properly processed to look continuous.) Just wallow in the images, and think how far we've come in such a short time. Who would have thought it would be the moons that would be so interesting, so diverse?