This is the most comprehensive and up-to-date book on the topic of planetary rings systems yet written. The book is written in a style and at a language level easily accessible to the interested non-expert. The authors cover the scientific significance of ring studies, the history of their discovery and characterization, the observations of Pioneer 10 at Jupiter, Pioneer 11 and Voyager 1 at Jupiter and Saturn, Voyager 2 at all four giant planets of the solar system, and Galileo at Jupiter. Each chapter includes extensive notes, references, figures and tables. A bibliography is included at the end of each chapter.
Of all the planets, Saturn is the most instantly recognisable to everyone because of its beautiful system of rings, visible in even a small telescope, discovered by Galileo in 1610, but not recognised for what they are until Christiaan Huygens' observations in 1655. Until 1977, Saturn's rings were considered unique, but we now know that all four gas giants, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are surrounded by ring systems. However, it is true that the rings of Saturn remain in a class of their own. James Clerk Maxwell's fascination with the rings of Saturn was made clear in his 1857 Adams Prize essay. After quoting parts of Maxwell's essay in their recent Scientific American article on rings ["Bejewelled Worlds", special edition entitled New Light on the Solar System, V. 13, No. 3, pp. 74-83, 2003], Burns, Hamilton and Showalter stated, "A century and a half later Saturn's rings remain a symbol of all that is exotic and wondrous about the universe". Ellis Miner and Randii Wessen co-authored the successful Springer-Praxis book, Neptune: the planet, rings and satellites, published in December 2001 which has sold 1076 copies worldwide to date.
Aus den Rezensionen: "! schon am Anfang versprechen die Autoren ubersetzt: 'Schnallen sie sich an und gehen sie mit uns auf eine faszinierende Reise ins Reich der Planetenringe'. Um es vorwegzunehmen, es ist ihnen durchaus gelungen. ! Einen Schwerpunkt setzt das Buch auf das Ringsystem von Saturn ! Dabei fesseln zahlreiche farbige hochaufgeloste Bilder von CASSINI den Leser. ! Dieses Buch ist eine Einfuhrung in die Welt der planetaren Ringsysteme und man fuhlt die Hingabe und Liebe der Autoren, dieses Thema dem Leser naher zu bringen." (RALF SRAMA, in: Sterne und Weltraum, 2007, Issue 11, S. 104)