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Monday, Sept. 21, 2009

Dava Sobel’s Tour Through ‘The Planets’

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In The Planets, Dava Sobel, best-selling author of Galileo’s Daughter and Longitude, sheds light on difficult scientific concepts as she weaves together a compelling series of essays on our solar system. Sobel’s book imbues the scientific text with entertaining and poetic stories, as each chapter mixes science fiction, mythology, literature and even music into a mesmerizing portrayal of our neighboring planets.

Each chapter of The Planets is given over to one of the celestial bodies. In these chapters, Sobel’s artful descriptions paint pictures of planetary landscapes and skylines filled with awe-inspiring colors and endless beauty. The book’s romantic language allows the author to write on technical topics with an unexpected lyrical slant. Your senses will awaken as Jupiter is portrayed as a musical composition and a 45-billion-year-old meteorite narrates the tale of Mars. Stunning depictions of the night’s sky and all of its mysteries show the solar system in exceedingly rich detail—Jupiter “swims,” Mars’ waters run like teardrops, and sunlight skitters off the tops of Venus’ clouds.

Sobel’s examination of the planets develops alongside related concepts like geography, mapmaking, religion and navigational techniques. Rooted in historical and scientific fact, The Planets explores characters from Greek mythology, follows navigators’ voyages during the time of Columbus, and provides glimpses of today’s planetary explorers. With familiar names like Galileo and Copernicus but with an innovative spin on the solar system, Sobel takes readers on a guided tour to worlds that are light years away and to see the planets like an astronomer gazing through the lens of a telescope.

Dava Sobel will speak at Boswell Book Co. on Saturday, Sept. 26, from 2 to 4 p.m. Afterward, Sobel will perform with the musical group Galileo’s Daughters as part of the Early Music Now concert series. For more information on the concert, visit www.earlymusicnow.org.

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