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on 2 October 2010
It is safe to assume you have seen the television series 'Wonders of the Solar System', otherwise you have seriously missed out. For fans of the series and of Professor Cox himself, this is a superb tome to add to your collection.

Many people thinking of purchasing this to acompany the series may be worried this is a limp spin-off that add's little or nothing to what the program itself showed. Well I hope I can put your mind at rest and tell you that this is well worth investing in.
The book (which is quite large - 28cm x 22cm) begins with a lovely and inspiring introducton. Very much of the style of the series, exhalting the ideals of exploration and celebrating the thirst for knowledge. To explore beyond the shore of our 'thin blue line'.

The rest of the format is much like the series, 5 more chapters on the same heading as the television show;

Chapter 2 - Empire of the Sun
Chapter 3 - Order out of Chaos
Chapter 4 - The Thin Blue Line
Chapter 5 - Dead or Alive
Chapter 6 - Aliens

Naturally, being the book of the series, it not going to veer off and cover other subjects. So we will be on familiar territory. Being a book, you get the feeling that it takes a little more time on the details and allows a more considered approach, perhaps acknowledging that it will be fans reading the book. Unlike a television series, which has to accomodate a very broad audience. Not that the book is more difficult to understand than the series itself, just that it elaborates some of the points from the series.
Just opening a random page and you are greeted with wonderful photos and great illustrations of various solar mechanics and actions of gravity etc. Very informative and easy to understand.

I hope you buy this book, and will enjoy it as much as I am enjoying it.

Truely for all ages. Inspiration has no limit.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 11 October 2010
Don't get me wrong, I am a great admirer of Brian Cox but it seems that the BBC are trying to squeeze every ounce out of him at the moment. I have to say that the text of this book is excellent, very readable, explanations and descriptions nice and clear but I'm afraid that the format, the fussy illustrations, the limited choice of photographs of the planets themselves but, and I hate to say it, loads of pictures of the ubiquitous Prof Cox staring wistfully into space, somewhat detracts from the experience for me. I would have to recommend the Dorling Kindersley book .Space: From Earth to the Edge of the Universe (DK) over this one if you are after an astronomy related coffee table book this Christmas. For the price and with some beautiful photographs this is the one to go for.
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on 28 November 2010
This book is one of the most informative and accessible to the layperson I have ever come across.Profs.Cox and Cohen have done huge research and their enthusiasm for their subject is palpable. Bring on the sequel!
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on 21 December 2013
The large number of very high star reviews shows that there are some very good points about the book. I am therefore clearly in a minority of having been badly put off by some weaknesses which some have either overlooked or think trivial.
Just to stress the good points first - the subject is great and many of the pictures are fascinating.
My gripe is the lack of precision and accuracy. Brian Cox makes great play of the superiority of the scientific method in finding truth. To me one of the great virtues of the scientific approach is clear and accurate communication - what I found were diagrams that were misleading and language that was vague and fuzzy. Reading the text seemed more like a teenage novel than a professor attempting to explain the wonders of the solar system.
Some quick examples:
Firstly I do understand how the orbit of the earth and the tilt of the axis result in the seasons. But the diagram in the book shows four positions of the earth relative to the sum - one position implies the sun is above the arctic circle and one that it is above the antarctic circle.
Secondly I was fascinated in the death of the sun. Leaving aside the language referring to nuclear reactions as "burning" I was reading on - because I wanted to understand why the Helium produced from the Hydrogen would not then act as fuel for further reactions (as happens in other stars). Referring to the exhaustion of the supply of hydrogen the text says "it literally runs out of steam".
Come on Brian. If you want to use metaphor in a supposed scientific book that's OK - but "Literally"?? Seeing the word I stopped; do you mean there is water produced? and that now all the gaseous water has been dissipated? At this point my blood boiled (no, not literally!).
Finally some of the diagrams are good - but in many the scales are wrong - and there is no clear note to that effect. I found myself having to spend time studying small print to establish whether the representation in the diagram was genuine or not. I often found that there was no clear explanation and so there was no warning against taking the diagram at face value - when it was an area I was familiar with I found that the diagram was wrong - I therefore lost confidence in those with which I was unfamiliar.
So I finished up frustrated - continuing to read but wondering if what I thought I was learning was accurate or not.
In my view the Wonders of the Solar System deserved better
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on 22 October 2010
I have only just started this book, having given the DVD version of the video a 5 star rating elsewhere. I plan to update this review upon completion of reading the book.
However, I have given it a 3 star rating as a provisional evaluation and as a warning to potential buyers and existing readers. Normally, my intial view would have been to give it 4 stars, since I agree with another reviewer that the general layout is a little too fussy and not always clear; hence it fails to impress as much as the video.
The reason for knocking off one star from this initial assessment is that I was put on alert to the error mentioned by another reviewer (who only gave the book 1 star). Having reached page 27 I was surprised to read that the sun is "140,000 kilometres (865,000 miles) across and over 100 times the diameter of Earth ..." The glaring error should be apparent to a 10 year old or anyone who ever looks at their speedometer in their car. Since when did 86 mph equate to 14kmh? (60mph is equivalent to 97kmh). The sun's diameter is approximately 1,392,000 km, so clearly the figure was meant to be 1,400,000 kilometre.
Before anyone tells me I should get out more (possibly true!), I should say that I am now less comfortable reading a book, which I already know has 2 technical/typo errors within its pages. It won't stop me reading it, since I think the book has a lot to offer and I like Brian Cox's enthusiasm for the subject. However, my experience so far, makes me wonder how many other errors are lurking inside its covers. The above error was easy to pick up, but although I have some knowledge of the subject from reading and studying about earth sciences, I would be none the wiser over many other 'facts' that might be presented in this book, unless I have come across them elsewhere. Perhaps Harper Collins who are the publishers of this book would like to respond?
Whoever was responsible for proofing this book needs to improve their skills, since as a BBC related publication aimed at educating the general public with an interest in this subject, it is a shame to produce a first rate documentary video, only to back it up with a book which lacks more rigour in its quality control.
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on 2 November 2010
If you saw the TV series then you already have an idea of what the book would be like.
Excellently written in an easy to understand way without feeling dumbed down in any way. Brian Cox manages to present such a vast and awe inspiring subject in a way that you will find very hard to put down indeed.
Can't recommend highly enough.
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on 20 January 2011
For me, the T.V. series was absolutely fantastic in its scope, but fell short by the amount it seemed to have been dumbed down. In the T.V. show, it seemed that fascinating worlds were left largely unexplained, and that facts and proper explanations were often missing, replaced by constant repition of the same few sentences and pointless shots of Brian cox getting in and out of various quirky modes of transport. I watch documentaries to learn about the stuff in the title, not to find out what the presenter enjoys doing!

This book really comes out trumps, though. It is filled with fascinating information about all the things in the series, and plentiful detail (for a general reader like me, anyway!) about the science behind it. This book really filled in alll the gaps in my knowledge that the series left me with, and was well written too. The scientific explanations are un-technical but comprehensive and the book really does contain some fascinating pieces of information (I kept thinking: "Why didn't you tell us this before, Brian!")

There were still passages about Brian Cox's personal journeys around the globe (the point of which I could never really fathom in the T.V show or the book) - but these are brief and easily skippable (rather than being 50% of the actual content).

If you've seen the T.V series and are a little worried that the book will also be dumbed down science, don't be. This is a great introduction to the solar system for a non-scientific general reader.
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on 5 November 2010
Many years ago, when I was about twelve years old, my father bought me a book about science with many pages on Astronomy which interested and inspired me to look at the night sky and to wonder what is up there? How far away those pin-pricks of light are and above all is there life other than on Planet Earth?

That interest once awoken has never gone away. Technology has improved at an incredible rate since the 1950's and many questions have been answered and many more asked.

For me, Brian Cox's book replaces my old and now long lost tome. It should serve to inspire future generations of youngsters and to claify things for an old codger like me.
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on 23 November 2010
Professor Brian Cox, for many, has now become the public face of Astronomy - his obvious enthusiasm for his subject is infectious.

Wonders of the Solar System is the companion book to the recent television series of the same name and broadly follows the same format. It is clearly aimed at those new to the subject - it does not try to be so ambitious that it puts off a novice who is just learning about Astronomy.

It is beautifully illustrated - the Hertzprung-Russell Diagram is the easiest to follow I have ever seen - and very good at explaining how the same physical laws have resulted in the evolution of both our cosy home planet and the hostile environments of other worlds.

Unfortunately, it is let down here and there by some unfortunate typos and errors, such as the diameter of Iapetus - Saturn's 3rd largest moon - being given as only 1.471 Kilometres!

Provided that the next edition corrects some of these glaring errors, Cox's book has much to commend it and would make a welcome Christmas gift for anyone who has watched and enjoyed the TV series.
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on 8 February 2011
If you like wonders of the solar system documentary.. This books is exactly the same like the series..Its good if you want to keep it as collection. The pictures inside the book are mind blowing!!
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