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The Planet Mars: a History of Observation and Discovery [Hardcover]

William Sheehan
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

15 Sep 1996
In this timely and vividly written account, William Sheehan traces human fascination with Mars back to the naked-eye observers of the planet. He recalls the early telescopic observers who first made out enigmatic markings and polar caps on its surface. Through lively historical anecdotes, he describes in detail the debate over the so-called canals of Mars, which encouraged speculation that the planet might be inhabited. Finally, Sheehan describes more recent theories about the planet, leading up to the present, when unmanned spacecraft have enabled us to make giant strides in exploration. Well documented and sparked with human interest, this book will be a useful companion and guide in interpreting the barrage of headlines about Mars that is sure to come over the next few years. Amateurs will appreciate the contributions that have been made to Martian studies by people like themselves, and professionals will find much original material that has never before been published.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 270 pages
  • Publisher: University of Arizona Press (15 Sep 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0816516405
  • ISBN-13: 978-0816516407
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 14.7 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,440,477 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

About the Author

William Sheehan is a psychiatrist, writer, and amateur astronomer. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very informative 15 Aug 2003
Format:Paperback
In this book, the author traces the history of man's knowledge about the planet Mars. Beginning in ancient times, he traces the evolution of theories about Mars, as it was influenced by the steady march of technological development. The reader gets to watch development of the belief in life on Mars, culminating in the humorous conjectures of Percival Lowell. Then, great detail is given on the facts learned from the Mariner, Viking and Russian Phobos missions. The final chapter is a real jewel, being an in-depth explanation on how an amateur astronomer should observe Mars.
This is a great book, the first chapters being history, and the later one providing a great deal of information about what was known about Mars in 1996. Not only are such things as the valleys and outflow channels examined, but also a whole chapter is devoted to Mars' moons, including how they would appear to an observer on the planet's surface.
The author does disparage the Imperial measurement system, and refuses to use any measurement but metric (except for temperatures for some reason), but this is not really a surprise. As such, this is a great book for those interested in the history of astronomy, but also a great book for those interested in what the planet of Mars is really like.
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By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Sheehan's The Planet Mars is a welcome break from so many astronomy texts that wobble erratically with the imbalance of inaccurate and antiquated data, conceptual difficulty and/or poor production. Other books may have more cool pictures, but few match Sheehan's in historical range and accuracy.
If you want to know about the minds behind the exploration of Mars from pre-telescopic observation through the great astronomers to today's space scientists, then this is a great resource. If you want the data that will help you in your own study of the ruddy orb, then this is a fantastic starting point.
Recommended.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Planet Mars lives in your hands...and in your mind. 17 Nov 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Sheehan's The Planet Mars is a welcome break from so many astronomy texts that wobble erratically with the imbalance of inaccurate and antiquated data, conceptual difficulty and/or poor production. Other books may have more cool pictures, but few match Sheehan's in historical range and accuracy.
If you want to know about the minds behind the exploration of Mars from pre-telescopic observation through the great astronomers to today's space scientists, then this is a great resource. If you want the data that will help you in your own study of the ruddy orb, then this is a fantastic starting point.
Recommended.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well researched work on the red planet... 11 Dec 2000
By John Rummel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Amateur astronomer and historian of astronomer William Sheehan provides a thorough account of the study of the planet Mars. He takes us on a chronological tour of the major developments, from the early pre-telescopic days of Kepler's work on the orbit, to the telescopic investigations, to the Mariner probes and Viking landers. Extensive treatment is given to observers such as Lowell, Antoniadi, Schiapaelli, and others, practically an "opposition by opposition" account. Sheehan's "Planet Mars" is an indispensable addition to the library of any fanatic of the red planet.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very informative 14 May 2013
By Kurt A. Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In this book, the author traces the history of man's knowledge about the planet Mars. Beginning in ancient times, he traces the evolution of theories about Mars, as it was influenced by the steady march of technological development. The reader gets to watch development of the belief in life on Mars, culminating in the humorous conjectures of Percival Lowell. Then, great detail is given on the facts learned from the Mariner, Viking and Russian Phobos missions. The final chapter is a real jewel, being an in-depth explanation on how an amateur astronomer should observe Mars.

This is a great book, the first chapters being history, and the later one providing a great deal of information about what was known about Mars in 1996. Not only are such things as the valleys and outflow channels examined, but also a whole chapter is devoted to Mars' moons, including how they would appear to an observer on the planet's surface.

The author does disparage the Imperial measurement system, and refuses to use any measurement but metric (except for temperatures for some reason), but this is not really a surprise. As such, this is a great book for those interested in the history of astronomy, but also a great book for those interested in what the planet of Mars is really like.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read -- informs and inspires. 27 Aug 2003
By Jeffrey L. Beddow - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
While other reviews have mentioned some details of the books scope, I just want to urge anyone with an interest in Mars to read this book. It is informative, authorotative, and quite literate in its presentation and style.
Oddly enough, I think it is about due to get much more attention than when published...a case of being ahead of its time. Whether you have a professional or personal interest in the topic, this book is worth every minute spent with it.
One of my favorite topics was the explication of the advances in telescope design, told through the personalities and dramas of the times. The issues of resolution, lens design, mounting and atmospheric seeing problems are all explained and put in the context of the evolution of the "idea" of mars. This is a fascinating achievement in science writing.
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