Venus (Kosmos) (Hardcover)
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From the latest scientific advances to observation advice for amateur astronomers, a beautifully illustrated exploration of one of Earth’s closest neighbors.
This book is a new, beautifully illustrated account of Venus, taking in the most recent research into this mysterious, inhospitable world. The book looks at the history of our observations of the planet, from early astronomy to future space missions, and seeks to shed light on many of the questions that remain unanswered, such as why Venus and the Earth—so similar in size and mass—evolved in such different directions, and how Venus acquired its dense carbon-dioxide atmosphere. Above all, Venus assesses whether life might have escaped from the oven-like temperatures at the surface and evolved to become perpetually airborne—in which case Venus may not be lifeless after all.
About the Author
William Sheehan is a noted historian of astronomy, writer, and retired psychiatrist. He is the author or coauthor of twenty books, including Planets and Perception, The Planet Mars, and Discovering Pluto. He lives in Flagstaff, AZ, and Asteroid 16037 is named Sheehan in his honor.
Sanjay Shridhar Limaye is based at the University of Wisconsin and has investigated the Venusian atmosphere with the Pioneer Venus, Venus Express, and Akatsuki missions.
"A comprehensive introduction to historical and current research into Venus, as well as its representations in popular culture. . . . The book also reveals that confirmation bias is a recurring feature in Venusian research, and that expecting it to be Earthlike is a mistake—its differences outweigh its similarities. To consider the planet only in comparison to Earth is, Sheehan and Limaye insist, 'one of the most hubristic efforts in the history of science.' They counsel humility in the face of Venus’s ongoing mysteries. Venus is a passionate and thorough planetary primer for armchair stargazers."
— Foreword Reviews
"Venus has captivated astronomy historian Sheehan and astronomer Limaye. This illustrated account of the planet might make you wonder whether life could have evolved there after all."
— New Scientist
"Venus is well-written and illustrations of Venus from ancient times to the modern day make this visually appealing. The authors cover a huge amount of science. . . . It's a worthy addition to Reaktion's science Kosmos series."
— BBC Sky at Night Magazine
"A broad-ranging and richly illustrated account of what and how we have come to know of this remarkable world. From the earliest naked eye and telescopic observations, to the recent suggestion of potential life in the planet’s cloud decks, Venus chronicles the key developments in our understanding of the Earth’s sister planet, and explores how Earth and Venus have so much in common yet have evolved to become such contrasting objects. The writing is evocative and full of fascinating detail, with Sheehan’s expertise in the history of astronomy shining through continuously. With a dedicated chapter on potential life on Venus, the book includes the most up-to-date science on the topic, and will be a valuable reference for anyone interested in this alluring planet and its place in our history and imagination."
— Nature Astronomy
"A very well-written book that is easy to read, highly informative, full of inspiring insights, and appropriately amusing at times. It will appeal to anyone wishing for an up-to-date introduction to Earth’s twin."
"This book follows the observation of, opinions about, and fascination with the planet Venus from ancient civilizations to contemporary explorations involving robotic probes that have flown past, entered orbit around, landed on, and even launched balloons from the Earth-sized planet. . . . Expert scientists Sheehan and Limaye note that the first named surface feature of Venus honors a male scientist, but all others have been and must henceforth be named after women from history or myth. Some scientists have thought Venus was all wet: a French zoologist speculated that it was inhabited by frogs the size of cows, while a Nobel Prize-winning chemist imagined Venus inhabited mostly by plants. Now we know its surface is hot enough to melt lead and that sulfuric acid rains down. A very interesting and clear account. Highly recommended."
"The planet Venus, whose motion in the sky inspired religious traditions dating back 5,000 years to the Sumerians, and whose stark, fiery surface and acidic, choking atmosphere have been opened to our view by spacecraft since the 1960s, stubbornly clings to many of its secrets to this day. Sheehan and Limaye engage the reader in the continuing saga of our exploration of the planet closest to Earth with historical erudition and scientific expertise."
— Dale P. Cruikshank, planetary scientist
"Sheehan and Limaye’s timely book Venus is an enjoyable, easy-to-read review of everything related to our planetary neighbor. It is packed with facts and stories through history, from ancient times to today’s latest discoveries from spacecraft and modern telescopes. With the many new missions to appear in the late 2020s and early 2030s, this book provides a solid background and will be enjoyed equally well by scientists and the interested public."
— Håkan Svedhem, Venus Express Project Scientist, European Space Agency