A grand tour of the solar system

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 31 March, 2008, 12:00am

The Planets

By Dava Sobel

Published by Harper Perennial

ISBN 1 84115 621 3

If you recently enjoyed Stephen and Lucy Hawking's George's Secret Key to the Universe, the next awesome journey to take you into the cosmos should be Dava Sobel's The Planets. This is a thrilling trip to worlds about which we probably know very little.

Sobel has the amazing talent of being able to write about complicated science and make it entertainingly accessible. This does not mean she dumbs down the subject. Not at all.

The Planets is a full-fact journey around the solar system, but it differs from other books on the same subject because it is so engaging and readable.

The Planets is a first-class grand tour of the solar system, making stop-offs on each member of our planetary system.

Each planet in the solar system is presented in its own unique way.

Sobel is not writing a textbook here so don't expect a long list of facts and scientific jargon. The author has had a fascination with outer space since an early age, and in The Planets, she skilfully blends science with history, popular culture, music, literature and anything else she thinks appropriate to the stories she is telling.

The Planets covers a vast area of knowledge but Sobel makes every light year attention-grabbing and enjoyable.