2019 | 608pp | £22.99
Lonely Planet has teamed up with Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and, with The Universe, has pulled together a gem of a book. In 607 pages – no mean feat I’m sure – it runs through our celestial neighbourhood, providing detailed information and beautiful images from across the universe.
As with other Lonely Planet guides, each section is clearly signposted and colour-coded, enabling readers to easily skip to areas of interest, where they can either digest volumes of information, or perhaps like me, enjoy smaller bitesize chunks as and when the mood strikes. Every inch of our known universe is covered; from planets and their moons, to asteroids, comets, dwarf planets, exoplanets, stellar objects and the galaxies beyond. Perfect for anyone with an interest in astronomy and for those who fancy travelling the length of the universe from the comfort of an armchair.
If you are blown away every time a picture comes back from the Mars Curiosity Rover then this is most definitely the book for you. According to astronomers, we have only observed a very small portion of the universe to date – around 4% – so to have a single source of information in my hands is both impressive and drives home the sheer vastness of our universe.
Keep an eye out for the ‘top tips’ and ‘getting there & away’ sections, which bring some humour to the book. It’s always good to know when to pack your sun cream should you ever plan to visit the deep blue planet HD 189733b, which orbits so close around its sun that its atmosphere is evaporating at several gigagrams per second. There are also lots of film and TV references mentioned throughout the book. For example Epsilon Eridani, a star in the Eridanus constellation that was first popularised by Star Trek and Babylon 5.
This book is jam packed full of interesting explanations, useful facts (great for keen quizzers) and superb imagery. The Universe finds a rare balance for those wanting to learn detailed information and casual readers who want to dip in and out as needed. This one is definitely a keeper and will keep on giving for many years to come.