Monday, January 5, 2009
11 Planets. David Aguilar, National Geographic Children's Books, 2008.
It's a geeky thing to admit, but I totally have a soft spot for the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
Maybe it's because one of my college astronomy professors is married to a researcher there, and she took her students to visit the labs. Whatever the reason, I thought it was pretty cool that David Aguilar, a director at the CfA, is both the writer and illustrator of 11 Planets.
For a man who probably gets most of his images off the pixels of a CCD, Aguilar creates some beautiful drawings. He covers the eleven planets of the title, along with some other highlights of this solar system and a look at the solar systems that have only recently been discovered.
If the title count seems off to you, there's a good chance you went through science class before the International Astronomical Union decided to make everyone's mnemonics obsolete. There are now, according to the IAU, which gets to make the rules for this sort of thing, eight full-fledged planets and three minor ones. The minor planets include the now-demoted Pluto, the large asteroid Ceres, and Eris, which had the even cooler name Xena until the official body decided to weigh in. The name they chose is hardly inappropriate, though: in Greek mythology, Eris' domain is discord.
11 Planets is a Cybils Middle Grade/YA Non-Fiction finalist.