Just Visiting This Planet: Merlin Answers More Questions about Everything Under the Sun, Moon, and Stars

By Neil deGrasse Tyson

109 ratings - 4.19* vote

In a companion volume to Merlin's Tour of the Universe, here is a completely new collection of questions and answers about the cosmos for stargazers of all ages. Whether waxing about Earth and its environs, the Sun and its stellar siblings, the world of light, physical laws, or galaxies near and far, Merlin--a fictional visitor from Planet Omniscia--is easy to understand, In a companion volume to Merlin's Tour of the Universe, here is a completely new collection of questions and

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Book details

Paperback, 352 pages
July 13th 1998 by Main Street Books

(first published 1998)

Original Title
Just Visiting This Planet
0385488378 (ISBN13: 9780385488372)
Edition Language

Community Reviews


I enjoyed this book. That's right, it's a science book and I enjoyed reading it. I think anyone with a curious mind would enjoy reading Tyson's explanations of natural phenomena. I learned more than I thought possible about astrophysics. By the end of the book my understanding of gravity, speed of light, time, and energy were greatly expanded; but, at the same time, I experienced muddled thoughts and confusion. I didn't have a discouraged feeling, I was just reminded of how much I haven't learned, haven't asked, and would like to know.

The book is arranged into questions and answers. The questions are posited by a diverse population (as in differing backgrounds of understanding); and the answers to these questions are provided by Merlin, an extra-terrestrial from Omniscia in the Andromeda Galaxy. Some of the questions, I can relate (might have asked Merlin those same questions); but some of the questions were about phenomena of which I have no background understanding---so some of the answers I didn't really understand.

Merlin, as described in book, is as old as the earth and has come to the earth to observe and learn about the scientific understandings of earthlings. He is most intrigued by the questions humans ask and also by the scientific minds that have discovered so much about physics of earth.

Whether a reader has much science background or little, he or she will be intrigued by the concise way Merlin answers questions; and like me, the reader will likely be impressed with the speed at which they leap through the book.

I am duly surprised that I read a science book, written by an astrophysicist, within a span of two days. I'd have read the book in one sitting if I had not been interrupted. I have little scientific background, but it felt like this book was written with me in mind. It expanded my understanding of my planet in relation to the universe and spurred a lot of questions that this book didn't answer. After reading this book, I'm more curious about phenomena that make life possible, the Big Bang theory, recent scientific discoveries, and possibility of existence of life in other galaxies. Merlin explained very difficult concepts in a fun, and lighthearted way. I ended the book with this question: how in the world could such difficult science be explained with such clear, brief, and concise explanations?


This book opened my eye to space and all of its wonders. Merlin is a great character to answers these questions that people with lingering questions. Merlin is a alien that knows much about space, time and everything in those lines. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about the universe. (also Merlin talks in third person, so if you're not a big fan of third person maybe look for another space question book)


This was a really good book. Like the question and answer format. Lot of good easy to digest info. The sarcasm of Merlin was humourous if not scathing. Sometimes it was justified due to the question being asked, others I felt if maybe Merlin should have had his morning coffee before answering.


As a fan of Neil deGrasse Tyson, I was excited to read this book, however it is essentially a "Cosmic Queries" episode of his podcast in written form. He's also answering as an alien named Merlin. I was hoping for something more in-depth.