The size and complexity of the solar system are mind-boggling to astrophysicists, let alone the average layperson, but here, experts recommend books that will help you try to get to grips with space and the solar system—the bookworm’s guide to the galaxy, rather than the hitchhiker’s (although some of our experts do recommend Douglas Adams, too.)
Astronomer Philip Plait chooses his best books on the wonders of the universe, and explains the difference between an astronomer and an astrophysicist. Stuart Clark chooses his best books on astronomers, talking about how astronomers think about unexplained phenomena, such as the way in which all the galaxies in the universe seem to be rotating faster than we would expect them to. Sean M Carroll, a theoretical physicist at Caltech chooses his best books on cosmology, as does David Goldburg, a theoretical cosmologist at Drexel University in Philadelphia.
Author and science journalist Andrew Chaikin chooses his best books on space exploration. Caroline Smith chooses her best books on meteorites, Richard Cohen his best on the sun and Pedro G Ferreira discusses the universe. James Kasting talks about life beyond the Earth and Princeton Professor of Geosciences Tullis Onstott talks about life below the surface of the Earth —particularly what life below Earth’s surface might be able to tell us about life beyond the Earth.
For our best books on the moon landings click here.
The ‘subterranaut’ describes how the discovery of ancient bacteria miles beneath the Earth’s surface opens the possibility of finding life on Mars. He picks five books that show how our knowledge of life deep in this planet could lead us to discover it elsewhere.
Philip Plait urges us to remember that “science isn’t an encyclopedia of facts to memorise. It’s alive.” The astronomer and author of the acclaimed Bad Astronomy blog discusses books that can’t help but light the fire of interest in all things astronomical. He looks at how we can date the age of the universe, the danger of solar flares, and why Pluto is no longer classed as a planet.