TITLE: The Nine Planets: A Multimedia Tour of the Solar System

ACCESS: http://seds.lpl.arizona.edu/billa/tnp
OWNER & CONTACT: Bill Arnett (http://seds.lpl.arizona.edu/billa/arnett.html)

The _Nine Planets_ is a hypertext-based tour of text and images about the solar system. Designed for general audiences, the tour considers each of the objects in our solar system: the Sun, planets, their satellites, asteroids, and comets. Users browse among approximately 65 HTML pages that provide inline images of the objects, discursive text, charts of physical data, and links to a variety of images and animations. Any technical vocabulary is linked to a glossary which defines the terms in relatively simple language.

Images are plentiful throughout the tour. They are taken from or point to a variety of sources, mostly at NASA and other government sites. In fact, many of the images come from two similar WWW sources: _Welcome to the Planets_ (http://stardust.jpl.nasa.gov/planets/) and _Views of the Solar System_ (http://www.c3.lanl.gov/~cjhamil/SolarSystem/homepage.html). Arnett's tour is differentiated by its fuller background text on the objects; the other sources are more descriptive of particular images. Arnett also includes an "Open Issues" section on each planetary body, giving the general reader an idea of major questions that astronomers have not yet answered on the object.

The text is quite readable, statistics check out with standard reference sources, information is updated frequently, and the choices of images are excellent. A significant portion of the images are available only in GIF format, rather than JPG, which requires that larger files be transferred. However, I found response time to be fine from the cited server (several mirror sites are also given). The less-common animation files require a variety of players, including MPEG, FLI, PICS, and Quicktime, which could be intimidating for some net users; however, this is the result of the author's extensive knowledge of and links to astronomical resources available on the Internet. Overall, this site is a fun and educational experience for those interested in the heavens and could serve as a reference source for a number of factual inquiries.

Christopher W. Nolan
Head of Reference
Trinity University
March 9, 1995

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