4.0 out of 5 stars
Excellent Companion to the TV Series, 16 Mar 2011
Companion to the highly popular television series which was first aired by the BBC back in 2010, Brian Cox takes us on a personal guided tour from the birth of the Solar System to the far reaches of the Sun's influence and what lies beyond.
The book is split into five main chapters which follows the episodes of the TV series; The Wonder (intro), Empire of the Sun, Order Out of Chaos, The Thin Blue Line, Dead or Alive and the final chapter Aliens. Topics include; Historical account of the motion of the planets, The life and death of the Sun, Saturn and its moons, craters on Mercury, the atmospshere of Venus, Jupiter and it's moons, Martian volcanoes and the search for life in the Solar System.
This is not your usual run-of-the-mill astronomy book but then again it was not your usual run-of-the-mill TV series. The planets were discussed from a very different perspective and not in the usual order of distance from the Sun, which in my opinion makes it unique amongst books about the Solar System and a refreshing change.
What I also liked about this book is that concepts are uniquely explained using real analogies here on Earth so it made them easier to understand and something tangible to relate to. There are many images of Brian in various poses, doing things (like wearing solar glasses!, on tops of hills) and having various pondering stares across landscapes. The TV series was shot in many exotic locations around the world so you could be forgiven to think that the book was Brian's personal travel photo album!
The few negative points I have about the book is that the style of graphics gives the book a retro 1980's feel, also I wasn't too keen on the grey background for some of the images, black would have been much better. One or two of the images could have been more up to date (such as on page 49 where a false color image of the Solar Corona looks like it was taken by the USA Skylab space station from the early 1970's). However, for newbies to astronomy they would probably find the images quite good. There are also some technical errors which unfortunately reduces the quality of the publication.
A great addition to any library and an excellent companion to the TV series. Highly recommended.