Out of This World

Jon Foro on February 08, 2017

Amazon Book Review: OtherworldsSometimes you just can't wait to talk about a book. Otherworlds: Visions of Our Solar System, Michael Benson's photographic record of humanity's exploration of our solar system (officially published March 7), is just that kind of book. Drawing on data collected from myriad space probes launched across decades, Otherworlds begins its journey at home with Earth and the Moon, then widens its orbit to the Sun and the rocky inner planets before finally exploring the gas giants and the far objects of the Kuiper Belt.

Benson has assembled a spectacular collection of images that raises science to a rare level of photographic craft, blending (often hundreds of) frames and color information to create visions of these celestial objects as a human might see them, if we could only stow away aboard Cassini or Voyager. Enjoy these images from Otherworlds, (again) available March 7. You'll have to be patient, but it's a lot faster than a flight to Mars.



Earth and Moon

Taken above the Pacific Ocean, this geosta­tionary satellite image captures Earth and the Moon in a single frame. In the mid-Pacific, high clouds near the planet’s day-night terminator line glow red with sunrise.

Composite photograph. GOES West, 25 May, 2015

Credit: NOAA-NASA-GOES/Michael Benson/Kinetikon Pictures


Sahara Sandstorm

A vast wall of wind-borne sand sweeps across the western Sahara before extending out across the Atlantic and impacting the Canary Islands. Like most terrestrial deserts, the Sahara is expanding at an alarming rate. The amount of dust in the air has doubled in the last hundred years.

Acqua, 3 March, 2004

Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, Lucian Plesea, MODIS LRRT/NASA GSFC/Michael Benson/Kinetikon Pictures


Moonlight on the Adriatic

In this luminous view of southern Europe, the Adriatic Sea with its many islands gleams in reflected moonlight. In the centre, the Italian peninsula extends into the Mediterranean Sea. To the lower right, Milan’s road network blazes. South is up.

Mosaic photograph. ISS 023 crew, 29 April, 2010

Credit: NASA JSC/Michael Benson/Kinetikon Pictures


Crescents Moon and Earth

In this historic image, both the Moon and Earth are seen for the first time as paired crescent worlds, with the western half of the Moon’s far side visible. This photograph was taken 18 months before human beings saw earth­rise over the Moon for the first time, during the Apollo-8 mission.

Lunar Orbiter 4, 19 May, 1967

Credit: NASA LOIRP/Austin Epps/Michael Benson/Kinetikon Pictures


Cloud-covered Venus

In visible light, the dense carbon dioxide atmos­phere makes Venus look like a bright, largely featureless ball. But here, in ultraviolet light, details of its swirling atmos­phere are revealed.

Ultraviolet photograph. Mariner 10, 5 February, 1974

Credit: NASA/Calvin Hamilton/Michael Benson/Kinetikon Pictures


Eclipse of the Sun by Earth

The solar corona – the outer atmosphere that surrounds the Sun – and magnetic loops during an eclipse of the Sun by Earth. The graduated reduction in our view of the Sun is due to the increased density of Earth’s atmosphere from left to right, which blocks ultraviolet light.

Ultraviolet photograph.

Solar Dynamics Observatory,

2 April, 2011

Credit: NASA SDO/NASA GSFC/Michael Benson/Kinetikon Pictures


Mars and the Milky Way

Mars against the backdrop of our galaxy, the Milky Way. In this view, from a distance of 50 million miles (80 million kilometres), Mars appears as a red beacon among the ancient stars at the centre of our galaxy.

Composite photograph. Rosetta,

3 December, 2006

Credit: ESA/Rosetta/Michael Benson/Kinetikon Pictures


The Valles Marineris Canyon System

The largest canyon in the Solar System, Valles Marineris on Mars is almost 2,500 miles (4,000 kilo­metres) long – nearly the width of the United States. A ground fog hugs the canyon floor.

Mosaic composite photograph. Viking Orbiter 1, 16 July, 1978

Credit: NASA/JPL/ Dr Paul Geissler/Michael Benson/Kinetikon Pictures


Ground Fog in Valles Marineris

The western part of the 1,900-mile-wide (3,060 kilo­metres) Valles Marineris canyon system is seen here covered in morning water-ice and water-vapour ground fog. The canyon is more than four miles (six and a half kilometres) deep in places, over three times deeper than the Grand Canyon in Arizona, the United States.

Mosaic composite photograph. Mars Express, 25 May, 2004.

Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin/Michael Benson/Kinetikon Pictures



Mimas Transits Saturn’s Ring Shadows

Saturn’s tiny moon Mimas drifts against the backdrop of the planet’s northern latitudes. The long, dark lines are shadows cast by Saturn’s rings. Just like Earth’s atmosphere, Saturn’s atmosphere – when relatively cloud-free - can scatter blue light, giving the plan­et a bluish hue.

Mosaic composite photograph. Cassini, 18 January, 2005

Credit: NASA/JPL/Michael Benson/Kinetikon Pictures


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