Paul Murdin's book probes the planets and profiles scientists, astronomers and astronauts
Hodder General non-fiction publisher Drummond Moir acquired World Rights to The Secret Lives of Planets: A User’s Guide to the Solar System from James Wills of Watson, Little. Hodder will publish in July 2019 to mark anniversaries of two moon landings: fifty years since Apollo 11, and sixty years since the USSR’s Luna II became the first spacecraft to reach the surface of the moon.
According to the acquisition statement: 'Professor Paul Murdin OBE will draw on a lifetime of astronomy and wonder to reveal that the lives of the planets within our solar system, and their satellites, are every bit as rich and unpredictable as our own. Mercury, for example, is shy – the innermost planet, it peeps out only briefly around the edges of the Sun. Mars, the red planet, has a past life in which it was blue. Seen against a sunset, Venus is the most beautiful planet, but underneath its white cloud is a black, hellish landscape.
'The book will shed light on many unsung heroes too, such as Ceres, the planet that never grew up, and Titan, a moon which boasts lakes and rivers of liquid methane that cutting through soaring hills, exactly as the Earth did at the moment life developed on our fragile planet billions of years ago.
'The author also reveals and celebrates the stories of astronomy’s pioneers – from Galileo, Newton, Kepler and Neil Armstrong to the men and women - doctors and navigation engineers - we may not have heard of but who were behind some of science’s most electrifying and profound discoveries. Illuminating and brimming with wit and reverence, The Secret Lives of Planets is inspiring reading for anyone who has ever gazed up at the skies above and wondered about the worlds beyond.'
Murdin has worked as an astronomer in the USA, Australia, England, Scotland and Spain. Since 1963, he has been a research scientist, an observatory administrator and a science policy maker for the government and the Royal Astronomical Society, and is currently Emeritus Fellow at the Institute of Astronomy in the University of Cambridge. He has had a secondary career as a broadcaster and commentator for the BBC and CNN, and is a frequent lecturer and writer on astronomy.
Pictured: Paul Murdin (cr Stephen Armishaw)