Jupiter, outside of our own Earth, is probably the most fascinating of the planets in the solar system. Its mysteries have captivated men of learning for centuries, and the truth behind these mysteries will have vast influence on our knowledge of the universe.
Isaac Asimov is the perfect choice as a guide to this giant world—combining the technical knowledge of a well-known scientist with the imagination and wit of a world-famous Science Fiction author, he is able to explore Jupiter from every possible angle and viewpoint.
The result is a volume of information and discovery that will excite readers of every age and taste.
This book is hopelessly, hopelessly outdated, but it doesn’t matter—I love it anyway.
It was originally published in the early 1970’s, before Voyager, before the Hubble Space Telescope, before the Galileo probe. The amount of information we have now about Jupiter is incredibly huge compared to what we knew a some forty years ago. There is therefore an awful lot which this book, alas, leaves out.
The reason why I nonetheless love it is that it is the first of a top-notch series of astronomy books for teenagers published by Lothrop, Lee, and Shepherd in the 1970’s. The series as a whole is excellent and remarkable—remarkable because each book takes a slow and careful look at the planet or planets it discusses with a very strong emphasis on statistics and comparisons. This volume, for example, has some 54 tables which include information on the sizes and orbits of the planets, their albedos, the moons of Jupiter (the ones known in 1973, of course), and so on. None of this information is outdated, so the book retains tremendous value as a means of learning about some of the more esoteric properties of planetary bodies not to mention its value as a reference volume. And it’s still clear and completely readable, despite its being so heavily statistics-laden.
I do have to knock it down a point for leaving out a lot of what is now known, but that’s the only possible criticism against it. It’s definitely something well worth getting if one can manage it.