A Traveler’s Guide to the Solar System
Written by Patricia Barnes-Svarney
Illustrated by Gilbert Ford
Published by Sterling Publishing
Reviewed by sandhya.
The tour stars at the innermost planet- Mercury- and continues to the outer ends before returning to Earth. So what facts do we learn about our stops?
A Mercurian ‘day’ lasts 176 Earth days- a long enough time to plan all the sightseeing you want to do here. But what do you see? As there is no atmosphere here, the sky is always black, even though it is day and the Sun occupies a quarter of the sky! And if you feel like a game of golf, your hit could put the ball into orbit! But all that if you are dressed to stand the extreme temperatures- around 537 degrees Celcius in the day versus minus170 degrees in the night! All because of a lack of an atmosphere and proximity to the Sun.
Travel on to Venus, which looks so beautiful in our sky- and you’ll never think of it in those terms again. Temperatures of above 450 degrees, thick, sulfuric acid clouds above an atmosphere that is mostly carbon dioxide- so thick that it exerts pressures of more than 90 times that on our Earth– walking through that is likened to walking through maple syrup. Add to that multiple volcanoes that dot the surface, with lava flows everywhere–Oooff! I’m feeling stifled just by imagining it! Your sense of direction would go for a toss, too, as the heavens seem to rise in the west and set in the east- Venus spins in a direction opposite to that of the Earth.
It goes on this way with fun facts about each planet on the way, their moons, the asteroids- leaving us in no doubt that our Earth is our only home. One place that we have to take care of if we are to survive.
This fun book reminded me of an exhibit in our local science museum, where one can find out one’s weight on different planets- with astonishing results. Illustrated beautifully with full colour pictures in glittering paints, and with full colour actual photographs sourced from NASA, it is a complete guide to our Solar System.