Pluto’s demotion from planetary status is chronicled in David Weintraub’s Is Pluto a Planet? (2007); nonetheless, Pluto remains an interesting sphere of study as one of the largest known Kuiper Belt objects that orbit beyond Neptune. What scientists know at present about Pluto, and how they know it, is the subject of this compendium by Jones, an astronomy professor in Britain. After a historical run-through of Pluto’s bruited existence and actual discovery in 1930, he delivers a fascinating presentation of how facts have been compiled since, extending the Plutonic database to include a crude map of its surface, the composition and temperature of its atmosphere, and orbital dynamics. Big boosts to in-depth understanding of methods in research are Jones’ sidebars about relevant equations in gravitational or spectral analysis, none of which require math skills beyond high-school algebra. Concluding with a description of the spacecraft presently en route to Pluto, Jones’ work will be the most informative for a curious general audience until New Horizons encounters Pluto and its three satellites in 2015. --Gilbert Taylor
"The author writes in a clear, matter-of-fact style, including sidebars on related subjects from Kepler's laws of planetary motion to calculating a planet's surface temperature using nothing more complex than high school algebra. Jones's thorough approach offers popular science readers pretty much everything known about mysterious Pluto...." - Publishers Weekly
"All in all an excellent book which includes some Figures reproduced in colour and archive-quality paper − thoroughly recommended to all those wishing to read up about Pluto ahead of the New Horizons encounter with the 'planet'." Richard Miles, J. Br. Astron. Assoc.
"Presented in a style that gives the feel of a friendly uncle telling stories over coffee at the dinner table. It is a most relaxing and enjoyable read...this book strikes me as a perfect gift for a young teenager with an interest in space." - Brother Guy Consolmagno, Meteoritics & Planetary Science Journal