Kuiper Belt Books

Beyond Pluto by John Davies Non-technical (2001). Getting a little old, this remains an excellent single-author description of observational work on the Outer Solar System. I especially like the way it shows how, at any one moment, nobody knows what's happening, although after the fact they pretend that they do. An excellent read for anyone casually interested in astronomy.

Is Pluto a Planet?: A Historical Journey through the Solar System by David Weintraub Non-technical (2007). Provides a nice account of the historical context - the Pluto debate is not at all new (and it's not really a debate!). Easy to read.

The Pluto Files by Neil deGrasse Tyson Non-technical (2009). Framed around the Pluto is/is not a planet debate. The author is an astronomer and science popularizer who can write well, a rare combination. One day I'll ask him what's with the 'deGrasse'. Oh, OK. You ask him.

Saas Fee 35: Trans-Neptunian Objects and Comets Technical (2008). The Swiss finance an annual meeting and book in a series named after the town where the meeting was once (but is not now) usually held. Still well known in astronomy, the Saas Fee series has had almost no representation of the Solar system. Until now. The special feature is the 'tutorial style', which means that the writers are asked to aim at coherent, self-contained presentations of the material in a style of use to graduate students.

Small Bodies in Planetary Systems (Lecture Notes in Physics) Technical (2008). Organized in a Saas-Fee like style, but as a series of Solar system topics organized in Japan by Ingrid Mann and colleagues. I like this book. Good for graduate students because the book is well written and the chapters stick pretty close to the tutorial style.

The Solar System Beyond Neptune Technical (2008). University of Arizona's planetary science series. These books are massive blocks of literature, encylopedic in nature but lacking the tutorial style of the previous two books. Like an encylopedia, you'll go into this one for the occasional foray, but you can't read it as a book, there's just too much material and detail.

At the Edge of the Solar System Non-Technical (2009). This book first appeared in French and, although it looked pretty, I couldn't read it. Now translated into English, I want to say that this is a really terrific book about the Kuiper belt. Not only are the figures in color and well done, but the text is clear and the writers relate the excitement of the subject. No equations, just results and ideas. A great book for the interested non-specialist.

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e-mail: David Jewitt