Cover of Venus, Near Neighbor of the Sun
Book 228 Astronomy 1981
Asimov on Science Fiction Three by Asimov
3 spaceships-and-suns
Asimov fan
3 spaceships-and-suns
Target reader

As both evening star and morning star, Venus has always been one of the most important sights in our sky—and one of the most mysterious. Hidden beneath a dense cloud layer, Venus kept its secrets until modern science devised ways to probe them.

In this book, Isaac Asimov takes us from ancient beliefs to modern certainty. Cosmic sleuthing by means of spectroscopic analysis and planetary probes has revealed that Venus has an atmosphere to dense that a gentle wind is equal to a hurricane on Earth, and that Venus’ cloud layer may be its ocean.

Asimov discusses all the known facts about Venus and also about Mercury, the planet nearer to the Sun, and asteroids and comets. This fascinating book furnishes essential knowledge of our solar system and stimulates creative thinking about the limitless possibilities in astronomy.

This is the final entry in the series of astronomy texts for teenagers that started with Jupiter, the Largest Planet. As with Mars, the Red Planet, it doesn’t suffer as much from the passage of time as do the volumes on the outer solar system. It was written late enough to include information from Mariner X, for example, and although we’ve learned a great deal about Mercury and Venus over the last thirty years (for the book covers Mercury as well), it’s nothing like the revolution brought about by Hubble, the Voyager probes, Galileo, Cassini-Huygens, and the innumerable Mars landers and orbiters. This may change, of course, when MESSENGER moves into orbit around Mercury in 2011.

Meanwhile, we have an excellent volume on the properties of Venus and Mercury, their orbits, their sizes, their masses, and so on, plus a nice exposition of their visual appearance in the sky. Once again, the volume is chock full of diagrams and tables and is a useful and entertaining reference volume.

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