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Book Reviews


Meteorites
Authors: Caroline Smith, Sara Russell and Gretchen Benedix

Publisher: Natural History Museum, London

ISBN: 978-0-565-09239-9

Price: £9.99 (Pb), 112pp


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Meteorites – rocks from space that have fallen to the Earth – provide a unique insight into conditions present during the formation of the Solar System. They originate from asteroids, the Moon and Mars, and as a result can tell us a lot about how our local planetary neighbourhood has evolved. As of January 2009 the meteorite count stood at 37,000, although less than three percent were actually observed to fall and then subsequently collected (the rest were found during dedicated meteorite hunting trips or accidentally).

Meteorites provides a jargon-free introduction to these rosetta stones of the Solar System, and is split into five main chapters beginning with what meteorites are and where they are found, then briefly touching on impacts and collisions before moving on to a detailed section on the sources and types of meteorites, and finishing up with a look at comets, another potential source of a rare breed of meteorite. I found the section on the sources and classification of meteorites most useful; this section would have been invaluable for my undergraduate studies in planetary science nearly a decade ago!

The book has a really modern feel about it; it is well illustrated with clear diagrams and plentiful crisp photographs of real meteorites that bring to life what is being said in the text.

Boxes draw out the key facts – I was especially pleased to see the first box providing a simple explanation of the differences between meteoroids (a small rocky body travelling through space that may or may not become a meteorite), meteors (a 'shooting star' seen as the rock burns up in the Earth's atmosphere) and meteorites (rocks that survive the fall from space and land on the Earth), definitions that I have seen confused by people all too often, even by those who should know better!

Written by meteorite experts based at London's Natural History Museum – which has a collection of some 2,000 meteorites – this book makes an excellent introductory text for someone who has no prior knowledge of meteorites and is looking for a basic grounding in the subject.

Emily Baldwin

2009 Yearbook
This 132-page special edition features the ultimate observing guide for 2009, a review of all the biggest news stories of 2008, in depth articles covering all aspects of astronomy and space missions for 2009, previews of International Year of Astronomy events and much, much more.
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Infinity Rising
This special publication features the photography of British astro-imager Nik Szymanek and covers a range of photographic methods from basic to advanced. Beautiful pictures of the night sky can be obtained with a simple camera and tripod before tackling more difficult projects, such as guided astrophotography through the telescope and CCD imaging.
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Exploring Mars
Astronomy Now is pleased to announce the publication of Exploring Mars. The very best images of Mars taken by orbiting spacecraft and NASA's Spirit and Opportunity rovers fill up the 98 glossy pages of this special edition!
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Mars rover poster
This new poster features some of the best pictures from NASA's amazing Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity.
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