The Planets by Dava Sobel
(from the book jacket)
The Sun’s family of planets becomes a familiar place in this guided tour of other worlds. Sobel explores the origins and oddities of the planets through the lens of popular culture, from astrology, mythology, and science fiction to art, music, poetry, biography, and history. Whether revealing what lies behind Venus’s cocoon of acid clouds of capturing firsthand the excitement at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory when pictures from Cassini at Saturn are beamed to Earth, this intimate account is filled with fascination, beauty, and surprise.
There is a chapter for each planet (Pluto, the sun, and the moon have chapters too) and each chapter takes a different approach. In most you get some of the same facts like the rotation speed and atmospheric composition and such so you do get some text book like information but there is more to it than that. Venus is about beauty and includes poetry, Mars is told in the voice of a fragment found on Earth, Saturn talks about the music of the spheres, and Jupiter explores the astrology of the planet. It is a rather brief introduction to each planet and does not go in-depth very much but the unique approach makes it less a study of the science of the planets and makes it a stargazer’s wondering look at the universe. It is meant to teach you something but also to show you the wonder, imagination and glory of the planets.