Early additional findings from the Cassini spacecraft in orbit around Saturn (due to arrive in July 2004) will also be included. The first series of ring orbits by Cassini occur between May and October 2005 and this book will provide the first summary of these detailed observations, the first since the flyby of Voyager 2 in 1981. Images of Saturn, as the Cassini spacecraft approached the planet in spring 2004, revealed a wealth of detail in the ring system, a foretaste of the excitement to come.
Each chapter includes extensive notes, references, figures and tables. A bibliography is also included at the end of each chapter, for those who want to peruse the existing literature. Both a glossary and a topical index will make the book a useful reference tool for planetary scientists as well as for the targeted audience of non-experts.
Of all the planets, Saturn is the most instantly recognisable to everyone because of its beautiful system of rings, visible in even a small telescope, discovered by Galileo in 1610, but not recognised for what they are until Christiaan Huygens’ observations in 1655. Until 1977, Saturn’s rings were considered unique, but we now know that all four gas giants, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are surrounded by ring systems. However, it is true that the rings of Saturn remain in a class of their own.
James Clerk Maxwell’s fascination with the rings of Saturn was made clear in his 1857 Adams Prize essay. After quoting parts of Maxwell’s essay in their recent Scientific American article on rings ["Bejewelled Worlds", special edition entitled New Light on the Solar System, V. 13, No. 3, pp. 74-83, 2003], Burns, Hamilton and Showalter stated, "A century and a half later Saturn’s rings remain a symbol of all that is exotic and wondrous about the universe".
Ellis Miner and Randii Wessen co-authored the successful Springer-Praxis book, Neptune: the planet, rings and satellites, published in December 2001 which has sold 1076 copies worldwide to date.
Tony Buick has worked for two years on the techniques involved, and has written this illustrated step-by-step manual for anyone who has a telescope (of any size) and a digital camera. The color images he has produced – there are over 300 of them in the book – are of breathtaking quality.
His book is more than a manual of techniques (including details of how to make a low-cost DIY camera mount) and examples; it also provides a concise photographic atlas of the whole of the nearside of the Moon – with every image made using a standard digital camera – and describes the various lunar features, including the sites of manned and robotic landings.
After presenting a brief overview of the nature of comets and how we came to the modern understanding of comets, this book details the various types of observations that can usefully be carried out at the eyepiece of a telescope. Subjects range from how to search for new comets to visually estimating the brightness of comets and the length and orientation of tails, in addition to what to look for in comet heads and tails.
Details are also given of 20 periodic comets, predicted to return between the years 2017 and 2027, that are expected to become suitable targets for visual observing, in addition to information on a famous comet potentially visible each year and subject to great outbursts of brightness.
There is more than scientific interest in these views. They are also aesthetically beautiful and intriguing, and Dr. Murdin in a final chapter compares them to terrestrial landscapes in fine art.
Planetary Vistas is a science book and a travel book across the planets and moons of the Solar System for armchair space explorers who want to be amazed and informed. This book shows what future space explorers will experience, because these are the landscapes that astronauts and space tourists will see.
The first part of Mars and How to Observe It sets out our current knowledge of Mars as a planet - its orbit, physical characteristics, evolution over time, and current geology. A planet-wide tour of Mars's topography is featured, along with clearly labeled maps and close-up images of a variety of features. The second part of the book explains how amateur and practical astronomers can observe Mars successfully. Many aspects are considered in depth, including preparing to observe, calculating phase and tilt, and making observational sketches and drawings. There are also plenty of details about how best to make high-resolution CCD images. Since Mars changes in its apparent size in the sky according to its position in relation to Earth, it is best observed during its closest approaches. Future apparitions (appearances of the Red Planet) are therefore featured.
The subject matter is presented in 24 chapters that lead the reader through the solar system starting with historical perspectives on space exploration and the development of the scientific method. The presentations concerning the planets and their satellites emphasize that their origin and subsequent evolution can be explained by applications of certain basic principles of physics, chemistry, and celestial mechanics and that the surface features of the solid bodies in the solar system can be interpreted by means of the principles of geology.