by Jennifer Garske, production editor
I have laid out my fair share of books on outer space. I find space fascinating and awe-inspiring. I was lucky enough to work on all six of the books in the new Lerner series Searchlight BooksTM—What’s Amazing about Space? And I truly learned more about space with every book.
Each space series I have worked on has tackled a vast number of topics, all from a different perspective. Working on the Searchlight Space books was very different from working on Earth’s Outer Atmosphere in the Earth’s Spheres series, or The Universe in the Science Concepts series, or even Seven Wonders of Asteroids, Comets, and Meteors in the Seven Wonders series. But the thing all these books had in common was the tricky nature of picking photos.
All the books feature objects in space that can’t be photographed easily or at all. As a production editor, one of my main jobs is to pick images that best illustrate and enhance the text. When no photos exist, I have to rely on images that well-informed artists have drawn. And only so many such images are available!
Exploring Black Holes was the first book I tackled in the Searchlight Space series. The last book to be finished was Exploring Exoplanets. And even though I had lots of practice in between on other topics such as the International Space Station, space travel, and space robots, the last book was just as difficult to choose photos for as the first.
Here’s one example of an artwork I chose for Exploring Black Holes. By the time I got to page 34 (below) of this 40-page book, I’d seen A LOT of artist’s drawings of black holes. But this drawing felt special in that it really gets at the “massive” feeling of a large star circling a smaller black hole. The concept of that planet being sucked into the black hole is there as well.
This spread from Exploring Exoplanets (below) shows the conundrum we faced with this particular topic. Some exoplanets are called “hot Jupiters.” We had to show a hot Jupiter, which cannot be photographed, as well as the actual planet Jupiter, which can and has been photographed.
The captions had to explain that one of these images (right) is a drawing of what one artist thinks a hot Jupiter may look like, while the other photo (left) shows the planet hot Jupiters are named after. Whew! How do you think we did?