“Hello, Is This Planet Earth?” Review

It is often said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and if there ever was a book that could encapsulate that sentiment to perfection, it would definitely be Tim Peake’s “Hello, Is This Planet Earth?”.

hello, is this planet earth?

This mesmerising work features more than 150 images of our home planet from the perspective of the International Space Station, all photographed by astronaut Tim Peake during his historic 6-month Principia mission.

Armed with a Nikon D4 camera and a vantage point that very few of us will ever get to experience first-hand, Peake captures scores of breathtaking images including sweeping landscapes, stunning desert vistas, brilliantly illuminated cityscapes, expansive oceans, and even the northern lights, in a way that truly brings a sense of awe and reverence.

Being somewhat of a shutterbug myself, I was immediately drawn to this book based on the concept alone. I’m a huge fan of aerial photography (especially cityscapes), so when I found out that practically all of the photos detailed in “Hello” were captured from an aerial (and somewhat otherworldly) perspective, I knew that I had to add this book to my collection.

Not only was I not disappointed with “Hello”, I simply couldn’t put it down. The book is well-made, with excellent print quality and vibrant colour that really makes the images “pop” off the page.

astronomy book with pictures

Measuring 23.5cm x 23.5cm x 2cm, it’s the quintessential “coffee table book”, but it’s not just for decoration – “Hello” offers readers a treasure trove of cool images and information about so many fascinating places on our planet, you’ll feel like you’ve toured the world by the time you finish the book.

The author, Tim Peake, is no stranger to celestial life. He is Britain’s first European Space Agency astronaut, and was the first astronaut from the UK to successfully complete a spacewalk outside of the International Space Station (he had to perform repairs on one of the station’s voltage regulators).

During Tim’s Principia mission, he conducted several groundbreaking scientific experiments, and was well-known for creating innovative ways to engage and educate the public with his many space-faring exploits, including running the London Marathon in space, and presenting a BRIT Award live from the space station.

Not only that, but Peake was able to speak to well over 1 million school children during his tenure in space by conducting live talks from the ISS via a program called the “Cosmic Classroom”.

One of Tim’s many anecdotes that I found most amusing was the story behind the title of the book. According to Peake, he was trying to place a phone call to his home during a brief span of time in which the ISS was over his side of the world. Apparently Peake misdialed and ended up ringing a total stranger, to whom he asked “Hello, is this planet Earth?”.

While the details of the phone call from that point have not been shared publicly, Peake might have felt as if he had left something undone, as he later tweeted out an apology to the anonymous lady via his Twitter account, stating that it was “not a prank call…just a wrong number!”.

This famous gaffe has served as a fitting moniker for Peake’s book, but for a different reason: As the author explains in “Hello”, the unique perspective that he was able to enjoy while 400km above the Earth gave him a new appreciation for our planet, and in a sense his space mission allowed him the privilege of seeing our planet with a whole new set of eyes.

I can imagine that when you’re able to see the Earth from that vantage point, it would evoke a reaction that is a combination of wonder, amazement and possibly even a little bit of disbelief. In other words, after viewing our wonderful planet from that serene, detached perspective, you would be tempted to ask the question “Is this planet Earth?”.

This book is nothing short of a work of art, and the photos contained in it will give you a whole new appreciation for the planet that we all call home. For each page, there are roughly 4 or 5 lines of text that explain interesting facts and data points about the featured locations, but the photographs quite obviously steal the show.

If you have children at home, this book can give them a fascinating introduction into world geography, but believe me when I say that “Hello” is a visual feast that can be enjoyed by people of all ages.

I am super-happy that I bought this book, and I highly recommend “Hello, Is This Planet Earth?” to anyone who would like to gain a whole new perspective of the planet on which we live.

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