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Pluto: Sentinel of the Outer Solar System [Hardcover]

Barrie W. Jones
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
RRP: 11.60
Price: 11.47 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

12 Aug 2010
Orbiting at the edge of the outer Solar System, Pluto is an intriguing object in astronomy. Since the fascinating events surrounding its discovery, it has helped increase our understanding of the origin and evolution of the Solar System, and raised questions about the nature and benefits of scientific classification. This is a timely and exciting account of Pluto and its satellites. The author uses Pluto as a case study to discuss discovery in astronomy, how remote astronomical bodies are investigated, and the role of classification in science by discussing Pluto's recent classification as a dwarf planet. Besides Pluto, the book also explores the rich assortment of bodies that constitute the Edgeworth–Kuiper Belt, of which Pluto is the largest innermost member. Richly illustrated, this text is written for general readers, amateur astronomers and students alike. Boxed text provides more advanced information especially for readers who wish to delve deeper into the subject.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 244 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (12 Aug 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1409101843
  • ISBN-13: 978-1107024946
  • ASIN: 0521194369
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 16.1 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,028,358 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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'Thoroughly accessible … a clear matter-of-fact style … Jones's thorough approach offers popular science readers pretty much everything known about mysterious Pluto.' Publishers Weekly

'A timely, up-to-date and highly readable publication, beautifully presented. A collector's piece for any enthusiast.' Mark Stewart, Spaceflight

'Richly illustrated and up to date, this book is written for general readers, amateur astronomers and students alike.' The Eggs EGU Newsletter (

'Jones' slim primer offers a useful distillation of eight decades of research into Pluto, and an intriguing preview of more findings to come.' Physics World

'That the author is a highly competent lecturer based at the Open University comes across in all that he has written. He marshals the facts and carefully leads the reader by the hand through various topics by explaining the different concepts from start to finish, without assuming any prior knowledge … All in all an excellent book which includes some figures reproduced in colour and archive-quality paper … thoroughly recommended to all those wishing to read up about Pluto ahead of the New Horizons encounter with the 'planet'.' Richard Miles, Journal of the British Astronomical Association

'It offers a readable history of the discovery of Pluto and a good primer on the Edgeworth–Kuiper belt.' Anthony Doerr, Boston Globe

'Gets into the nitty-gritty of Plutonian planetary science … presents a sensible view on Pluto's current status.' Cosmic Log

'Pluto: Sentinel of the Outer Solar System is very well suited to someone coming to the subject without much prior knowledge. It clearly explains the formation of Pluto and the Edgeworth–Kuiper belt of which it is part … In the end, whatever you call it, Pluto is a fascinating and important object and despite its vast distance this book will [seem] to bring it far closer.' David Powell, Astronomy Now

Book Description

Richly illustrated and up-to-date, this book is a timely account of Pluto for general readers, amateur astronomers and students wanting to know more about this intriguing celestial object. It also explores Pluto's satellites and the rich assortment of bodies that constitute the Edgeworth–Kuiper Belt.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pluto Unveiled 14 Feb 2011
Professor Barrie Jones is one of the UK's leading experts on the Solar System and so is ideally qualified to write about, not just Pluto as a planet, but also its place in the outer Solar System. This beautifully printed book does not disappoint. Following an introduction to the solar system there is a fascinating account of the discovery of the outer planets of the Solar System and the early attempts to find another planet beyond Neptune. We learn how Clyde Tombaugh was employed by the Lowell Observatory to search unsuccessfully for "Planet X" whose location in the sky had been predicted by Percival Lowell. He then carried his own search along the plane of the ecliptic and, in 1930, discovered the planet that became known as Pluto. Professor Jones then tells how, since then, we have learnt much about Pluto and how in 1978, James Christy discovered Pluto's moon Charon which enabled the first accurate mass for Pluto to be determined - just 0.2% that of the Earth! Problems for its status a planet began when objects of similar and, finally, one (Eris) of slightly larger size were discovered. Should these objects be given the status of a planet, or should Pluto be demoted? We are told of the heated discussions that took place at the International Astronomical Union (IAU) leading up to resolution, passed at the 2006 IAU General Assembly in Prague, that gave Pluto the status of a "Dwarf Planet" along with the newly discovered Kuiper belt Object, Eris, and Ceres, the largest of the Minor Planets. Finally, the book looks forwards to the New Horizons mission to Pluto, planned to flyby Pluto on the 14th July 2015 - perhaps Professor Jones will then be able to add another chapter to this excellent book!
Ian Morison, Gresham Professor of Astronomy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pluto revealed 1 Feb 2011
By Martin
Barrie Jones has written an excellent book for those who are interested in astronomy and wish to learn more about the recent advances in our knowledge of Pluto and the objects beyond. After a short guide to the Solar system, the reader is treated to the intriguing history of the discovery of Uranus and Neptune and then Pluto, which turned out to be very small when compared to the "Planet X" predicted from what turned out to be inaccurate measurements of the orbit of Neptune. The description of what is now known of Pluto and its three satellites is a fascinating study of how astronomers can glean facts from the relatively meagre observations available.
For me, a high point was the chapter on the recently discovered Edgeworth-Kuiper belt objects, one, Eris, larger than Pluto itself. These were news to this reader! The book ends with the fascinating politics of the demotion of Pluto from planet to dwarf planet followed by news of the New Horizon's mission due to fly by Pluto in 2015 after which a second edition will surely be required!
This book is accessible to both lay and academic readers alike, as the use of marked boxes containing the more advanced material which can be avoided by the less mathematically inclined. I enjoyed the book immensely and learned much.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The last unknown planet 9 Feb 2011
Four years from now we will get a grandstand view of Pluto and its three moons as the spacecraft, New Horizons, zips through the system. Long considered to be the ninth planet of the solar system, though now debatably called by some a dwarf planet, Pluto is the only one of the major planets (as I prefer to call it) not yet visited by a spacecraft. From the Earth and from spacecraft like the Hubble space telescope that are in Earth orbit however we already know a lot. Barrie Jones in this excellent book that is well up to the standard of his many other publications leads us entertainingly and informatively through what we currently know about Pluto, Charon, Nix and Hydra (the three moons), how they were discovered and what we might find out in 2015. Along the way he discourses about most other outer solar system objects like Uranus, Neptune and Kuiper belt objects generally in order to place the knowledge of Pluto in context. This is a fascinating book well worth reading (and buying) and I wholeheartedly recommend it.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pluto 19 Jan 2011
I was really looking forward to reading this book, following reading other excellent books on the subject of the Kuiper Belt objects, such as "The Hunt for Planet X" by Govert Schilling. But it wasn't as good as I had hoped.

There was nothing wrong with it, as such. Plenty of detail and facts, but definitely more of an academic book, which the author does acknowledge, though he also says it would be good for people with a general interest too. This is the bit I disagree with. It was rather dry and definitely not a book you could describe as "un-put-downable".

If you are after facts then you may like this book. If you are after the story of Pluto, then read the book I mention above, or the new Mike Brown book, "How I killed Pluto and why it had it coming".
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pluto the Final Frontier's Watchman 20 Jan 2011
By Thomas G. Haeberle - Published on
In this book Jones explores the assortment of bodies at the end of the Solar System and describes its most significant member. No, this is nothing like Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson's book, "the Pluto File" a humorous look at his plight with Pluto and the public's perception about the planet that is not. This book takes the subject of Dwarf planets and their kin very seriously. The book is intelligently crafted and full of facts with exceptional charts and figures.
There is a quick run through of historical events about discovery; included David Jewitts and Jane Luu's discovery of 1992 QB1, the object that fulfilled the prophecy of Kenneth Edgeworth and Gerard Kuiper. Jones confesses to not liking the term Kuiper Belt objects because it robs Edgeworth of his contribution of their existence; yet, in order to abbreviate, he elects to use the term KBO's anyway because of its popularity.
The book ends rather dull in the chapter: Gateway and beyond. I was hoping for a more exciting possibility for the rejected planet, but the author concludes that Pluto would not make a useful launch platform to the stars after all; except maybe for "plutonauts" to erect a large robotic telescope that can be remotely operated after humans have left.
The "further reading" section lists key scientific papers, books, internet links and magazines that enable readers to explore various topics in greater detail. Despite the demotion of Pluto, Jones shows it still and always will remain an interesting study of one of the largest known objects that orbit beyond Neptune.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What an Incredible Book!!! 6 Jan 2011
By F. Baker - Published on
This book is absolutely incredible. The author takes you on a historical trip from the initial discovery of the solar system's outer members (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto) to the gathering of a fantastic amount of information that has been learned about Pluto from telescopic observation, and he does so without snowing you, explaining each step in detail.
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Pluto book 10 May 2013
By Thomas H. Lawrence - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Absolutely the best book on Pluto available. Written for the layman, it has technical discussions separated by boxes. Jones cove basic astronomy, discovery of the out planets (Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto), detailr
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