Cover Image

Larger ImageView Larger

Infinite Worlds

An Illustrated Voyage to Planets beyond Our Sun

Ray Villard (Author), Geoffrey W. Marcy (Foreword), Frank Drake (Afterword by), Lynette Cook (Illustrator)

Available worldwide

Hardcover, 272 pages
ISBN: 9780520237100
June 2005
$54.95, £45.95
Merely a decade ago there were no known planets orbiting sunlike stars outside our own solar system. In the past ten years, however, fast-paced developments in astronomy have revealed over 140 extrasolar planets—with more discoveries surely on the way. Though it will be years before we have direct images of these far-flung worlds, this lavishly illustrated book gives us an idea of what they might look like. A fascinating exploration of the cosmos written for a wide audience, Infinite Worlds brings together Lynette Cook's internationally renowned astronomical artwork, the latest and most dramatic images from the world's top observatories, and up-to-the-minute scientific findings on subjects ranging from the big bang and stellar evolution to a possible universe filled with countless planets and life forms.

The newly discovered planets are boggling astronomers' minds with their bizarre characteristics, including an unimagined diversity of sizes and orbits. In Lynette Cook's scientifically based illustrations—many newly created for this book—we glimpse the landscapes and atmospheres that might adorn these planets. Ray Villard's text elegantly describes the state of astronomy today, imagines where it will take us in the coming years, ponders the chances of success for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), and explores the survivability of life in an evolving and accelerating universe.
Foreword, by Geoffrey W. Marcy
I. Cosmic Evolution: Setting the Stage for Planets
II. Stars: The Genesis Machines
III. Solar System Clues
IV. Planetary Bonanza
V. Looking for Earths and Life
VI. Galaxy Odyssey
VII. Life in an Evolving Universe
Afterword, by Frank Drake
Ray Villard is News Director for the Space Telescope Science Institute and author of Large Telescopes Inside and Out (2001). The astronomical artwork of Lynette R. Cook, formerly the Artist/Photographer for the Morrison Planetarium at the California Academy of Sciences, has been exhibited around the world at major museums, research centers, and universities; published in many newspapers and books; and featured in television documentaries.
“Resting on evocative paintings by Cook, this album is a fascinating presentation of the formation of planets, theories of which are in flux in the face of fantastical extrasolar worlds discovered in the past decade. . . . An appealing eye-grabber for the astronomy collection.”—Gilbert Taylor Booklist
“Villard presents a coherent readable explanation and study of this solar system and beyond. . . “ “This book will spur imagination and transform technical data into something conceivable for the genera reader . . .”—M. V. Golden, University of Missouri -- Kansas City Choice: Current Reviews For Academic Libraries
“Infinite Worlds is a perfect addition to the library of anyone who wonders what strange planets inhabit the mysterious, far reaches of our galaxy and beyond.”—Donna E. Stevens Planetary Report
Highly recommended.—David A. Hardy Science Fiction Crowsnest Sci Fi Magazine
“The perfect approach for a subject—extrasolar planets—about which astronomers have amassed tantalizing tidbits but few visual cues. Villard’s stylish prose complements dozens of Cook’s ‘what-if’ concoctions.”—J. Kelly Beatty Sky & Telescope
“This is an ideal coffee-table book, but it is more than that, because it contains so much sound science. The presentation is excellent. . . . Make haste to add it to your library.”—Sir Patrick Moore Times Higher Ed Supplement (Thes)
"Together, Villard and Cook bid us join them on an odyssey to planets of dust and moisture and vapor, to infinite worlds out there in the grand universal expanse." —Dr. James White, Editor of Mercury Magazine

"Fasten your seatbelts for a grand tour of the universe—and of the new ideas and discoveries that are bringing it to life. Anyone who wants to know how we got here, where we may be going, and what's out there—will want this spectacular and authoritative guide from two masters of word and image." —Dr. Roy Gould, Director, NASA-Smithsonian Education Forum on the Structure and Evolution of the Universe

"What a combination! Author Ray Villard’s long experience at the Space Telescope Science Institute has prepared him well to write such a book, and Lynette Cook’s legendary artwork is, in a word, magnificent." —David H. Levy, Science Editor for Parade Magazine

"Infinite Worlds offers a gorgeous, sweeping, grand tour of the cosmos from the pen of one of the astronomy world’s most entertaining writers. Lynette Cook’s spectacular visions of distant corners of the universe make this book a treasure for astronomy enthusiasts. Bravo!"—David Eicher, Editor, Astronomy Magazine

"With clear prose and vivid art, Ray Villard and Lynette Cook provide a splendid account of the astronomers' quest for other worlds, and ponder the prospects for life—and for detecting life—elsewhere in the cosmos. A feast for the eye and the imagination."—Ray Jayawardhana, Associate Professor of Astronomy & Astrophysics, University of Toronto

Join UC Press

Members receive 20-40% discounts on book purchases. Find out more