TNP logo In Association with

The Nine Planets


There's still room for hardcopy in the age of the Internet! Here are some of my recommendations:


The Planets op. 32 by Gustav Holst
An excellent recording by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by André Previn. This is the CD from which the sound clips in The Nine Planets are taken.

Symphony No. 41 in C Major K. 551 ("Jupiter") by W. A. Mozart
I'm not sure what it has to do with the planet but it's one of Mozart's best. And that's saying a lot!


The New Solar System J. Kelly Beatty, Andrew Chaikin (Editors)
My primary reference for constructing The Nine Planets. An excellent book filled with detailed info about the whole solar system recently updated with info from Galileo and Mars Pathfinder. It's at a slightly more advanced level than The Nine Planets but that's just what you need if you want to take the next step.

Encyclopedia of the Solar System Paul R. Weissman et al (Editors)
A much more scholarly tome than the above; for those who want to go much deeper. (Also check the publisher's WWW site.)

Exploring Planetary Worlds by David Morrison
The other principal source for The Nine Planets. This is a beautiful book with very high quality images and well written, by a man who was (and is) in the middle of NASA's planetary program.

The Cosmos by Jay M. Pasachoff and Alexei V. Filippenko
An introductory textbook by two of the world's best astronomy teachers.

Life in the Universe by Jeffrey O. Bennett, Seth Shostak, Bruce Jakosky
A comprehensive introduction the the science of life in general and how it might apply to planets beyond the Earth.

Feynman's Lost Lecture : The Motion of Planets Around the Sun by Richard Feynman, David L. Goodstein, Judith R. Goodstein
Want to really understand the physics of planetary orbits? This is it. It will take a little study but it's well worth it. And easier than you think. Richard Feynman at his best.

The NASA Atlas of the Solar System
A little expensive, but drop dead gorgeous. Here are many of the same images seen in The Nine Planets but reproduced with far better resolution and color. If you liked The Nine Planets, you'll love this. Also available in paperback.

In Search of Planet Vulcan by Richard Baum, William Sheehan
An account of the non-discovery of a planet inside Mercury's orbit. A much more interesting tale than you might imagine.

Venus Revealed by David Harry Grinspoon
The latest results from Magellan in an accessible and easygoing book. Covers mythology and history of our "sister planet" as well as up to date science. Nice glossy images, too.

Venus in Transit by Eli Maor
Fascinating account of past transits and the woes that befell those involved.

Orbit : Nasa Astronauts Photograph the Earth by Jay Apt et al
A beautiful "coffee table book". Kids often ask me which is my favorite planet. My answer is always "Earth". This book shows why.

Planet Earth by German Space Center
Another "coffee table book" of pictures of the Earth from space. Is it art? Maybe, but it is certainly useful science.

T. Rex and the Crater of Doom by Walter Alvarez
The story of the discovery of the impact crater that doomed the dinosaurs. Nice description of how science works in the real world.
Atlas of the Moon by Antonin Rukl
The standard lunar atlas for amateur astronomers. The near side is shown in 76 pages at a level of detail just about equal to what one can see with a modest amateur telescope on a good night. Absolutely indispensable for lunar observers.

The Hatfield Photographic Lunar Atlas by Jeremy Cook
A nice companion to Rukl's. The entire near side is covered in 16 sections each with a map and several photographs taken in different lighting conditions.

The Once and Future Moon by Paul Spudis
An overview of what we know about our Moon, how we came to know it and how we might go back to learn more.

Full Moon by Michael Light
Very high quality reproductions of Apollo images of the Moon. If you think the Moon is boring ("been there, done that") then you haven't seen this book!

A Traveler's Guide to Mars: The Mysterious Landscapes of the Red Planet by William K. Hartmann
Accessible, heavily illustrated, in a carry-around size this book brings together much of the astonishing information scientists have recently learned about Mars, and conveys it in the engaging, lively style that made Dr. Hartmann the first-ever winner of the Carl Sagan Medal for public communication of planetary science. Taken around the planet like tourists, readers will discover mysterious dry riverbeds, the largest volcano in the solar system (three times higher than Mount Everest), a possible ancient sea floor, giant impact craters, and other wonders.

Mars : Uncovering the Secrets of the Red Planet by Paul Raeburn, National Geographic
Up to date info and beautiful NASA photos including many from Mars Pathfinder.

The Case for Mars by Robert Zubrin
A realistic proposal for sending men to Mars cheaply. The ideas in this book are being taken seriously by NASA. There is hope!

The Moons of Jupiter by Kristin Leutwyler, John R. Casani
Over 100 color pictures of the Galilean satellites with more than the usual dry description.

Europa, the Ocean Moon
by Richard Greenberg tells the story of the Galileo spacecraft probe to Jupiter`s moon, Europa. It provides a detailed description of the physical processes, including the dominating tidal forces that operate on Europa, and includes a comprehensive tour of Europa using images taken by Galileo`s camera.

Uranus by Jay T. Bergstralh, Ellis D. Miner (eds)
The definitive reference on Uranus. For the pros, mostly. I list it here out of respect for Dr. Miner who helped me considerably with the first editions of The Nine Planets.

Planet Quest by Ken Croswell
An account of the discovery of extrasolar planets.

Mars Underground by William K. Hartmann
Fiction by a scientist who knows both how to tell a good story and the territory it is set in.

Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
Fiction but with highly accurate descriptions of the planet. A damn good story, too. Red Mars is the brilliant beginning of a massive trilogy that continues with Green Mars and ends with Blue Mars. Red Mars won the 1993 Nebula Award; the sequels don't quite reach that level but they're still enjoyable.

Bad Astronomy by Phil Plait
Print version of the excellent website. Get the straight story on many popular urban legends, myths and misconceptions. Great fun, too!

The Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan
A passionate plea for reason and science. A book every scientist and amateur astronomer should have.


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Click on one of the links above and you'll be taken to's WWW site where you can purchase the book online. From your perspective The Nine Planets Bookstore works exactly the same as any other order via good prices, quick delivery, no hassles. But if you go thru any of the links here and order a book then I get a small referral fee. You don't pay any more, I just get some of Amazon's profit :-)

Bill Arnett; last updated 2005 Jan 3