Franklyn M(ansfield) Branley David G. Hoag - Essay

David G. Hoag

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The imaginative manner of presenting astronomy in [A Book of Planet Earth For You] is clever; but unfortunately, the execution of it is careless. A hypothetical astronomer on a fictitious planet "Omega," elsewhere in our galaxy, describes his observations of earth and our solar system. The astronomer observes that our earth "turns 365 1/4 times while it goes around its star." Actually he would see it turn 366 1/4 times (adding one extra turn to the number of days in our year for the one revolution about the sun). Perhaps the author could be excused for this somewhat subtle point. But, he cannot be excused for saying on page fifty-four that the Foucault pendulum would always "be lined up with the same stars." Not so—only at the North or South Pole would this happen. An even more serious error on page seventy-one, both on a figure and in the text, has the earth one billion, five hundred million kilometers from the sun. That is ten times too far…. In a bit of whimsey in the back, the author credits an imaginative consultant on Omega. He would have been better served by a real scientist or engineer on earth to proofread his work. Instead, a potentially very good book came out poorly. (pp. 11-12)

David G. Hoag, "'A Book of Planet Earth for You'," in Appraisal: Science Books for Young People (copyright © 1976 by the Children's Science Book Review Committee), Vol. 9, No. 3, Fall, 1976, pp. 11-12.