Friday, October 02, 2009

Title: The Hunt for Planet X

Sub-Title: New Worlds and the Fate of Pluto

Author: Govert Schilling

Publisher: Copernicus Books (An Imprint of Springer Science + Business

ISBN: 978-0-387-77804-4

Genre: Non-Fiction / Popular Science / Astronomy

Presentation - Hard Cover with dust jacket

This book is an excellent, highly readable account of the discovery of trans-Saturnian Planets of our Solar System, especially Pluto and the Planet X. X stands for ten as well as unknown. When Pluto was discovered in 1930, it was not the tenth planet but was the mysterious unknown planet that was theorized to exist based on the orbital fluctuations of Uranus (Neptune was discovered earlier but even after taking into account its effects, Uranus had orbital fluctuations suggesting the existence of one or more planets beyond). Later observations showed that Pluto was not alone but was a member of a group of bodies collectively named Kuiper Belt. In 2006, Pluto was demoted as a regular Planet, in the face of opposition from many astronomers. You should read the book to know more about all the debate and the factors that weighed with the astronomers.

The science and the human drama (the fierce competition, the national pride, the hunger for credit etc.) have been nicely brought out by Govert and the illustrations and photographs add a lot of value to the book.

I have no hesitation in recommending this book strongly to all lovers of science in general and astronomy in particular.

Govert Schilling is an internationally acclaimed freelance writer on astronomy from Netherlands.

The reviewer is a physicist and a metallurgist, with interests in astronomy and other sciences. He is an author and editor besides being an avid reader and reviewer of books.

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