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Planetfall: New Solar System Visions Hardcover – October 1, 2012
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About the Author
Michael Benson, a writer, filmmaker, and photographer, is widely recognized as one of the world’s leading authorities on astronomical imagery. His book Far Out: A Space-Time Chronicle was heralded in the New York Times as an extraordinary achievement: “If you don’t have your own Hubble Space Telescope, this book is the next best thing.” He lives in New York City.
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Top Customer Reviews
His previous work, "Far Out," covered the enormous size and timescape of the entire universe, as it is perceived by us.
This time, in "Planetfall," Benson returns home to our own cosmic backyard. He reveals the Solar System to us using the latest images from the most recent generation of planetary explorers, most notably the Cassini Spacecraft's stunning images of Jupiter and Saturn. There are also magnificent images of the Sun (which are the best I have ever seen published in any book), of Mars, and of our own planet Earth and its moon, taken from other space probes.
This book concentrates on those newer, deep-space images of the planets (and some of their moons) that many Americans may not have seen yet in other books, and also adds some of the best images from the surface of Mars taken recently by the Spirit and Opportunity rovers. He skips Mercury and Venus, but that did not bother me because there is not much to see there, and this left more room for the stunning images of Jupiter and Saturn, Mars, and the Earth, which are the cornerstone of the book.
The book is light on text and heavy on imagery, and I found it just the right balance for this type of "coffee table book." Benson allows us to see our Solar System as we would if we were space voyagers on an interstellar mission, arriving at our solar system without ever having seen it before. The book is first and foremost a visual feast.
But the relatively brief essays are still insightful, even poetic, and relate the images in the book to our modern imaginations, fueled by our popular culture and how we were raised on science fiction.Read more ›
Overall, though, my complaints are very minor. This book is full of stunning photos of the celestial bodies of our solar system. Enjoy them.
A Scrapbook of Our Relationship With the UniverseBy DANA JENNINGS
Published: December 10, 2012
In her excellent 2011 collection, "Life on Mars," the poet Tracy K. Smith writes of "seeing the high beams of a million galaxies flick on at twilight." That's the kind of wonder I felt as Michael Benson's "Planetfall" carried me away.
Mr. Benson is a filmmaker, writer and photographer who specializes in letting the reader reach escape velocity from the terrestrial comfort of an easy chair. His previous books -- both from Abrams -- include "Beyond: Visions of the Interplanetary Probes" (2003) and "Far Out: A Space-Time Chronicle" (2009).
His goal in "Planetfall," he writes, is to present "a retrospective look at the visual legacy of 21st-century space exploration." Mr. Benson reminds us that it has been just 50 years since the first spacecraft waltzed with another planet, when an American Mariner probe dipped past Venus in December 1962. He then takes us on an interplanetary pleasure cruise that stretches from the Sun to Saturn. All retrospectives, art and otherwise, should shock us awake the way this one does.
In a sense, Mr. Benson has scrapbooked an up-to-date album of our solar system using mostly primary-image data from NASA and European Space Agency missions from 2000 to 2012. And so, among dozens of striking images, we're privileged to see Earthrise on the Moon and the restless sand seas of Mars; sunspots in bloom and the cryptic moons of Jupiter; and the rings of Saturn looking like the cosmic grooves of a very long-playing album.
Mr.Read more ›
I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 stars because I am a bit disappointed that the majority of the pictures are ultra-close-ups on parts of a planet or ring system showing just a very limited range of colors (for example: just black and white and blue.... or just black and white and amber). Also, many of the photos actually don't seem to be extremely high resolution. (Though many others, such as the surface of the sun, or the surface of mars, are strikingly high-resoloution and spectacular). This is not the fault of the author / publisher / compiler... that's just the way it is, and this book catalogs and showcases the past ten years of planetary photography as well as one could possible realistically hope that it would.
If you are looking for a book that shows the colorful awesomeness and jaw-dropping beauty of the universe... a book that focusses more on parts of the universe far more distant (star clusters and nebulae) has more "wow" factor than this book. But if you would like a compendium of the best of planetary photography over just the past ten years... you cannot do better than this very well-done volume.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great Job Michael Benson. The photos are absolutely incredible. It is so hard to understand how far away everything is but this book brings them right to the reader. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Michael Benson
Within my collection of 30+ NASA/space related coffee table calibre books, this title far exceeds them all which is saying a lot since most of the books I own are phenomenal. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Kimberly A. Hilliard
Excellent. Perfect coffee table book. I have 30 to 35 astronomy books and exceeded my expectations. One on my favorites. GREAT BOOK.!!!!Published 19 months ago by Tom Boris
Exceptional imagery, completely breathtaking two-page shots. A beautiful testament to the glory of creation. This will go on my coffee table someday.Published on January 9, 2014 by Naomi Cantrell
Gorgeous book, takes you through planet by planet. I wish there were captions on each page with a little info.
Still awesome and perfect for the coffee table.
Great update in Astronomy 101
I appreciated it the first time I read it and keep going back to the book periodically