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"Venus Revealed" by David Grinspoon

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#1 Rick Woods

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 12:44 AM

I just finished re-reading this book, written in 1997, just a couple of years after the Magellen Venus mission ended. AFAIK, it's still the most current book on Venus. It's extremely well-written; Grinspoon (who currently writes a column in S&T) has a real talent for making technical subject matter very accessible, and injecting considerable humor and personality into the text. I got a lot more out of it this second reading.

I found the S&T Venus globe to be incredibly helpful in following some of the narrative that explores some of the major features. It's funny, actual detailed maps of Venus aren't really readily available (to my knowledge). Moore & Cattermole's "Atlas of Venus" (my next, follow-up target) doesn't have one. "Venus Revealed" has a very basic one, but it's hardly comprehensive.

Anyway: An excellent book by a very talented author. Highly recommended if Venus interests you. It's didn't particularly interest me until I read this book; but it does now. I look forward to a revised edition someday.

#2 SusanY

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 07:52 AM

It was great to read your review, as my copy of “Venus Revealed” ought to be delivered any day now – and I’m glad to read that I made the right book choice.

A couple of weeks ago I received my Moon, Mars and Venus globes from S&T – they are wonderful! (Not even the unbelievable 70% ransom [oh sorry, I mean import duty] our revenue service charged before releasing them, diminished my delight when I opened the boxes!!)

It has been such an enjoyable experience reading all my Moon and Mars books with the globes sitting there in my hands. Am very impatient to do the same with Venus, as I, too, wasn't particularly interested in Venus until her globe arrived.

Susan

#3 TomCorbett

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 08:48 AM

Rick...

Great review of the book Venus Revealed--and so timely due to the appearance of Venus in the Western sky this evening. Thank you once again for pointing to an excellent book for amateur astronomers.

You are the best!

...Bob

*****

Venus in other media.

Below is some data from the software observing program SkyTools 3 regarding tonight's observation of Venus. Location reference in popular atlas chart numbers
Pocket Sky Atlas 47
Millennium Star Atlas Vol II Chart 795
Sky Atlas 2000 Chart 14
Uranometria 2000 Vol II Chart 284
Uranometria 2nd Ed. Chart 130
Herald-Bobroff Astroatlas B-10 C-47

Visual synopsis
On this night Venus is best visible between 20:39 and 21:24, with the optimum view at 21:04. . . . Look for it in Virgo, very low in the western sky during evening twilight. It is magnitude -4 with a diameter of 15".

In the following 30 days this object is obvious visually from August 31 on, with the best view coming on September 29. During this period it will brighten slowly, will remain constant in altitude and grow to 18". On November 1, 2013 it will be at greatest eastern elongation, when it will be best seen in evening twilight. On January 11, 2014 this planet will be in inferior conjunction with the Sun, when it will pass 4.9° from the solar disk. On March 22, 2014 it will be at greatest western elongation, when it will be best seen in morning twilight. On October 25, 2014 it will be in superior conjunction with the Sun, when it will pass 44.6' from the solar disk.*****

Oh, I almost forgot, let us not forget the Edgar Rice Burroughs novels in his Venus series. Pirates of Venus (1934)
Lost on Venus (1935)
Carson of Venus (1939)
Escape on Venus (1946)
The Wizard of Venus (1964)

#4 LivingNDixie

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 08:51 AM

Rick,
I read Venus Revealed several years ago. It is an outstanding book, and is still very current even with Venus Expressed orbiting the planet after Magellan.

#5 TomCorbett

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 10:34 AM

SusanY...

I have the Moon and Mars globes and keep thinking about the Venus Globe. What do you like the best about the Venus globe from S&T?

*****

Please give us a line or two about the quality of the skies in South Africa. :jump: :jump: :jump:

#6 Rick Woods

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 01:06 PM

Oh, I almost forgot, let us not forget the Edgar Rice Burroughs novels in his Venus series
...
The Wizard of Venus (1964)


Hold the phone! I've read the first four several times, but I've never heard of this one! Is it an honest-to-God ERB book? Or did someone else write an additional book to the series later on?

[i]Edit: OK, I just ordered it. I suspect it's like the eleventh volume of the John Carter series - something that was found posthumously, maybe unfinished, and cleaned up and published. That's good - you can't have too much ERB! :D
Thanks for the tip, Bob.

Oh, and correction: The Moore/Cattermole book does have an atlas or sorts. It looks like the Venus globe photographed from six angles, with some of the gross features named. But still no substitute for the globe.

#7 SusanY

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 01:47 PM

Tom...

The globe brought this mysterious planet to life for me. I’d seen a lot of the fascinating photos of her topography, but that was what they were – a series of fascinating photos – until I got the globe and it became a place. Instead of just poring over the flat photos, I could explore it as a planet – around all those impact craters, up and over the highland massifs, across the plains, through the canyons. . . everywhere was a part of the whole planet. It made sense. And as for all those wonderful Venusian place names – Ishtar Terra, Tahmina Planitia, Atahensik Corona… it’s amazing to see them as they are, where they are. (I bought a large magnifying glass for exploring my globes – wow! No more moaning about the cold fronts that are sweeping over us, one after another right now - I'm out there in a whole new way! I love these globes.)

The quality of our skies? Like everywhere, the cities and towns and their outlying areas are heavily light polluted, but beyond them – glorious skies. I live in a small village over the mountains from the blinding lights of Cape Town, and the Milky Way cuts a bright swathe over my backyard. But the nice thing is that really great dark skies are within easy reach for a weekend of superb observing.

The Karoo (a vast, basically empty semi desert) is just over the mountains. I've set my scope up with a friend or two on some dirt road in the middle of nowhere and we've not seen a soul (or their headlights) all night long. Inevitably, in the morning a donkey cart wanders by, which is a bit surreal. Sutherland is about 300 km away (and is there not something wonderful setting up your 10” Dob not that far from an observatory as large as SALT?!!)

The Kalahari skies (up towards Namibia and Botswana) have to be experienced to be believed. The Milky Way is so brilliant and so wide, you get lost. Star hopping takes on a whole new meaning when the stars are so bright and so crowded; star stumbling becomes my modus operandi.

As for the other kind of “quality” of our skies, there is nothing to beat being out in my backyard and gazing at the beauty of the Jewel Box, Omega Centauri, 47 Tuc, the Eta Carina Nebula and of course the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds.

Susan

#8 TomCorbett

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 03:27 PM

Susan...

WOW! Hang in here with us on CN Stellar Media Forum. We need your experience, writing skill, and perspective.

Thank you for such a wonderful reply.

...Bob (alias Tom Corbett, Space Cadet)

#9 Rick Woods

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 05:08 PM

As for the other kind of “quality” of our skies, there is nothing to beat being out in my backyard and gazing at the beauty of the Jewel Box, Omega Centauri, 47 Tuc, the Eta Carina Nebula and of course the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds.


Aw, man, you guys have all the good stuff in your skies! The best stuff we have up north here is in your skies, too. I'd love to see those things someday. And Alpha and Beta Centauri, the Coal Sack, Crux... those have all been dream targets of mine since I was a kid.

I'm with you about the globes. Do you also have the Mars and Moon Topo globes? They're wonderful!

#10 Rick Woods

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 01:30 PM

Here's something I forgot to mention.

If you enjoy Grinspoon's book as much as I did, you might be tempted to search for more. If you do, you'll run across "The Planet Venus" by Mikhail Marov and David Grinspoon. Then, you'll think "Cool, more of the same, let's get this one too!".

Well, caution: It's not! This book is much larger (in footprint as well as page count), and there's nothing personable or accessible about it: this is hard science! Tons of equations everywhere, and no attempt at making it easily readable by the advanced layman. If you enjoy (and can understand) that sort of book (and lots of folks here can), then fine; but if you're expecting more of Grinspoon's conversational, easy writing, this ain't it!

#11 SusanY

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 03:34 PM

Rick,

I don’t have the Moon and Mars Topo globes. Not only would I love to have them – but also a pair of Mercury globes. . . wouldn’t that round it all off nicely! (I wonder when S&T are going to produce Mercury globes?)

Yes, our skies do seem a bit biased toward the “good stuff”, but then every March/April I dream about tackling a Messier Marathon. What a dusk to dawn northern hemisphere night that must be!

Susan

#12 Rick Woods

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 05:11 PM

Rick,

I don’t have the Moon and Mars Topo globes. Not only would I love to have them – but also a pair of Mercury globes. . . wouldn’t that round it all off nicely! (I wonder when S&T are going to produce Mercury globes?)


Well, they've said they're coming (at least one version, hopefully both), so we just have to wait. I think they're waiting for the Messenger mission to end so they have the final data set.

Yes, our skies do seem a bit biased toward the “good stuff”, but then every March/April I dream about tackling a Messier Marathon. What a dusk to dawn northern hemisphere night that must be!

Susan


Ah, you must be young! :D The idea used to appeal to me; but it sounds like too much sleep deprivation now. (But hell, I may change my mind!)

#13 SusanY

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 02:33 PM

My book arrived at last! But you’ve got to hand it to the sky gods for humour. We have had endless rain and wind, so I’ve been looking forward to some indoor observing with the book and the Venus globe. But not so, ordained the sky gods – along with the book came a beautiful clear, calm, crisp night! (Next cold front, I'm ordering a Mars book.) It was a magnificent night’s observing; a couple of circumpolar favs had cleared the trees during all this rainy weather.

Well, I got a little reading in before heading out – and what an engaging book! There’s nothing like reading the first ten pages of a book (and like everyone does, browsing it from back to front) and knowing you’re going to thoroughly enjoy every word of it.

#14 TomCorbett

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 03:27 PM

(Next cold front, I'm ordering a Mars book.)



Ahhhhhh...but which Mars book? There are a lot more Mars books to choose than Venus books.

However...you are very fortunate because we have the world-renown Mars book expert on this forum...None other than the man of infinite Mars wisdom--and infinite book cases filled with Mars books--the one and only Rick Woods. :jump: :jump:

[pause for drum roll]

:rimshot:

...Bob

#15 Rick Woods

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 10:49 PM

:x

#16 SusanY

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 11:20 AM

You're right, Bob, there ARE a lot of Mars books!

I have William K. Hartmann's "Traveler's Guide to Mars" (published 2003). I found it fascinating to re-read with my Mars globe in hand. The landforms, the geology, the science, the human enterprise, and nearly every page containing photographs – with my magnifying glass picking out the details on the globe, I felt like all that was missing was my space suit!

Which Mars book next? I’d be grateful for some recommendations, Rick.

Susan

#17 Rick Woods

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 01:33 PM

Susan,
I made a list a couple of months ago in the thread "Successor to Sheehan's The Planet Mars?". I just bumped it to the top for you. (I have a cold and don't want to try and remember it! :()

#18 SusanY

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 02:01 PM

Wow, thanks, Rick, that's a fantastic list. Certainly going to keep me busy for a while!

Hope you get over your cold soon.

#19 Rick Woods

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 06:05 PM

Thag you.
I'b buch bedder today. :p






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