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Pluto: Sentinel of the Outer Solar System

Popular Science
Shows how studies of Pluto have increased our knowledge in important areas in planetary science, including the origin and evolution of the Solar System
Uses Pluto as a case study to illustrate how remote astronomical bodies are investigated, and the role of classification in science
Explores the entire Edgeworth–Kuiper Belt, of which Pluto is the innermost member

By: Barrie William Jones (Author)

231 pages, 77 b/w illustrations, tables

Cambridge University Press

Hardback | Aug 2010 | #189524 | ISBN-13: 9780521194365
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £35.99 $44/€40 approx

About this book

Orbiting at the edge of the outer Solar System, Pluto is an intriguing object in astronomy. Since the fascinating events surrounding its discovery, it has helped increase our understanding of the origin and evolution of the Solar System, and raised questions about the nature and benefits of scientific classification. This is a timely and exciting account of Pluto and its satellites. The author uses Pluto as a case study to discuss discovery in astronomy, how remote astronomical bodies are investigated, and the role of classification in science by discussing Pluto's recent classification as a dwarf planet. Besides Pluto, Pluto: Sentinel of the Outer Solar System also explores the rich assortment of bodies that constitute the Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt, of which Pluto is the largest innermost member. Richly illustrated, this text is written for general readers, amateur astronomers and students alike. Boxed text provides more advanced information especially for readers who wish to delve deeper into the subject.

"Thoroughly accessible [...] a clear matter-of-fact style [...] Jones's thorough approach offers popular science readers pretty much everything known about mysterious Pluto."
- Publishers Weekly

"A timely, up-to-date and highly readable publication, beautifully presented. A collector's piece for any enthusiast."
- Mark Stewart, Spaceflight

"Richly illustrated and up to date, this book is written for general readers, amateur astronomers and students alike."
- The Eggs EGU Newsletter (

"Jones' slim primer offers a useful distillation of eight decades of research into Pluto, and an intriguing preview of more findings to come."
- Physics World

"That the author is a highly competent lecturer based at the Open University comes across in all that he has written. He marshals the facts and carefully leads the reader by the hand through various topics by explaining the different concepts from start to finish, without assuming any prior knowledge [...] All in all an excellent book which includes some figures reproduced in colour and archive-quality paper [...] thoroughly recommended to all those wishing to read up about Pluto ahead of the New Horizons encounter with the 'planet'."
- Richard Miles, Journal of the British Astronomical Association

"It offers a readable history of the discovery of Pluto and a good primer on the Edgeworth–Kuiper belt."
- Anthony Doerr, Boston Globe

"Gets into the nitty-gritty of Plutonian planetary science [...] presents a sensible view on Pluto's current status."
- Cosmic Log

"Pluto: Sentinel of the Outer Solar System is very well suited to someone coming to the subject without much prior knowledge. It clearly explains the formation of Pluto and the Edgeworth–Kuiper belt of which it is part [...] In the end, whatever you call it, Pluto is a fascinating and important object and despite its vast distance this book will [seem] to bring it far closer."
- David Powell, Astronomy Now


1. The Solar System
2. The discovery of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto
3. Pluto, a diminishing world
4. Pluto's family
5. Surfaces, atmospheres, interiors of Pluto and Charon
6. The Edgeworth-Kuiper belt
7. Is Pluto a planet?
8. The New Horizons mission to Pluto (and beyond)
9. Pluto: gateway to beyond?

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Barrie W. Jones is Emeritus Professor of Astronomy in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, The Open University. A highly regarded university lecturer, he has an outstanding record in the public understanding of science, particularly astronomy, through lectures, local and national radio and TV, articles in popular magazines and in the press.

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