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June 18, 1995|CHARLES SOLOMON

EARTH FROM SPACE by Amy Leventer and Geoffrey Seltzer and PLANETS AND THEIR MOONS by Gary Mechler with Steven Kent Croft, Melinda Hutson and Robert Marcialis (Knopf: $7.99, each; 192 pp., illustrated, paperback original). This new series of nature guides from the National Audubon Society combines well-organized, readable texts with stunning photographs. "Earth From Space" offers basic explanations of plate tectonics and the effects of wind and water on the continents. The swirling clouds in a photograph of Hurricane Inki resemble a giant thumbprint over Kauai; two Landsat pictures of the Missouri-Mississippi confluence before and during the 1993 floods reveal the extent of the disaster more effectively than on-site news photographs or television reports. "Planets" challenges the reader's imagination with images from recent space probes: channels and mountains on Venus and Mars; the swirling atmosphere of Jupiter; the weird landscapes of the Jovian satellites. Other titles in this noteworthy series include "Clouds and Storms," "Constellations," "Galaxies" and "The Sun and the Moon."

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