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Lives of the Planets: A Natural History of the Solar System

3.61  ·  Rating Details ·  64 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
Lives of the Planets describes a scientific field in the midst of a revolution. Planetary science has mainly been a descriptive science, but it is becoming increasingly experimental. The space probes that went up between the 1960s and 1990s were primarily generalists-they collected massive amounts of information so that scientists could learn what questions to pursue. But ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published June 26th 2007 by Basic Books (first published January 1st 2007)
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(showing 1-30 of 130)
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Jonathan
Dec 16, 2012 Jonathan rated it it was ok
Out of date and plagued with minor errors.
Tony
Jul 12, 2014 Tony rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
LIVES OF THE PLANETS: A Natural History of the Solar System. ((2007). Richard Corfield. ****.
This is a terrific review of what was known about our solar system at the time. In addition to compiling most of the known facts about the sun and planets, the author manages to review the various space programs that were responsible for gathering all of this data. Lots of new stuff for me here, along with a bunch of old stuff that I had forgotten. (Why can’t I remember all of this information??) If you
...more
Dave
Jan 30, 2016 Dave rated it liked it
A good history of space exploration, but a not so great everything else. The author gets the formation of the moon, wrong (the moon was a protoplanet that struck the earth, not an accreted gas disk; if it were the latter it wouldn't be moving away from us every single year for the last 4.5 billion years due to the impact of the collision). Also, the theory that climate change comes from solar activity rather than man-made pollution - really?

Neat stories about the Mars rovers, the Russian mission
...more
Stephen
Jan 30, 2016 Stephen rated it really liked it
Ever wanted to take a tour of the solar system, but were deterred by that little problem of explosively decompressing once in the vacuum of space? Lives of the Planets takes readers on a tour by remote, through the history of American, Russian, British, European, and Japanese probes. Like the moons of Jupiter, it contains a lot of diversity in a modest number of pages, being a physical exploration of our cosmic neighborhood, a history of our robotic journeying, and lectures in brief along in the ...more
Angus Mcfarlane
Mar 04, 2013 Angus Mcfarlane rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
i picked this up from an academic surplus book sale, so the bargain price was a trade off for it being relatively outdated (it doesn't cover discoveries made on the last 5 years). It was also not quite what I expected, being a story of solar system exploration missions, rather than the planetary histories as such, although aspects of the latter are a part of it of course. But these points were very minor, as I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.

As a youngster, the history of the earth and the
...more
Jen
Jul 23, 2013 Jen rated it really liked it
Shelves: astronomy, science
I've mentioned before that as a child I desperately wanted to be an astronomer. That was before I discovered that math and I were polite neighbors at best. Turns out astronomy needs a lot of math.

Anyway, I never really got over my first love--because planets are cool.

This book goes systematically through the solar system, object by object, including the asteroid belt. The solar system is incredibly well organized when you think about it. Rocky things here, big gassy things here, and cold solidy
...more
Jeffrey
Jan 28, 2013 Jeffrey rated it liked it
The Lives of Planets is a misleading title. This book has as much, if not more, history of astronomy then it does any natural history. It seemed to speak more about the probes sent to other planets than the planets themselves.

Generally it was a good book with one exception. In the first chapter in the context of sunspots he describes them as an extreme confounding factor in the science of climate change. While this is not necessarily an inaccurate description, the authors claim that sunspots and
...more
Roger
Jul 26, 2013 Roger rated it liked it
I enjoyed this brief "biography", if you will, of our solar system. The author begins with the sun and travels out, describing each celestial body, including the history of how they were discovered and how they have been researched. He intersperses some great personal anecdotes, relating how these discoveries have affected him, from childhood to his professional life as an astrophysicist. I still do not like the fact that Pluto has been demoted to "dwarf planet" but I can see the reasoning behin ...more
Karen
Aug 18, 2015 Karen rated it it was ok
Of the many astronomy books I have read this was is the most dry.
Nadine
Oct 19, 2011 Nadine rated it really liked it
Shelves: space, 2011-challenge
Very well written and in a logical manner. It can feel a bit dry at times but considering it's a book about the history of the planets/objects in our solar system it's surprisingly compelling
Edward H. Busse, III
Jul 31, 2011 Edward H. Busse, III rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-owned
I loved this book - a planet by planet (sorry to Pluto) biography of our solar system. An excellent tutorial resource for learning in depth, but no too deep, about our own little part of the galaxy.
Mike Ehlers
Feb 05, 2014 Mike Ehlers rated it liked it
A book I found on the library shelf. As my family was once mildly into astronomy, I picked it up. This was an interesting read for that mild interest, nothing too rigorous.
Converse
Apr 10, 2010 Converse rated it liked it
What we know about the sun, planets, Kuiper Belt objects, extra-solar planets, and how we obtained this information. Written in a conversational style.
Gus
Jun 26, 2013 Gus rated it liked it
It was really fun to learn about all the amazing probes human kind has sent to all the planets in the solar system. Amazing engineering feats.
Mary
Oct 03, 2013 Mary rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-read
this book was easy to read, very interesting, and a great "catch-up with what's going on book"; I learned a lot
Ed
Mar 31, 2008 Ed rated it really liked it
Easy read, and quite entertaining, to boot!
Kristen Gurri
Had to keep up with Ed and Colin.
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