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  • Pluto
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Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 14 February 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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on 1 February 2011
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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on 9 February 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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on 7 July 2015
Still reading it but finding the book highly enjoyable... It's a great background read covering our knowledge-to-date of Pluto, and as a prelude to the upcoming New Horizons flyby!
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on 2 September 2015
This was a for a gift and I have been told it is excellent.
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on 19 January 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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