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Astronomy Resources

Exploring the Solar System : A History with 22 Activities

Carson, Mary Kay
Chicago Review Press (February 1, 2006)

Ages 9-12
ISBN: 1556525931

astronautIn this illuminating activity book, kids delve into the rich history of space exploration, where telescopes, satellites, probes, landers, and human missions lead to amazing discoveries. Tracking astronomers' recent progress—including the discovery of 2003 UB313, what some are calling the tenth planet in the solar system—kids explore the planets and other celestial bodies for themselves through activities such as "walking" from the sun to Pluto or creating their own reentry vehicle to safely return an egg to Earth's surface. With biographies of more than 20 space pioneers, specific mission details, a 20-page field guide to the solar system, and plenty of suggestions for further research, this is the ultimate guidebook to exploring the solar system.

The Magic School Bus Lost In The Solar System

Cole, Joanna and Bruce Degen (Illustrator)
Scholastic Press (February 1, 1992)

Ages 4-8
ISBN: 0590414291

(From School Library Journal)
The planetarium is closed for repairs, so the Magic School Bus blasts off on a real tour of the solar system. After their previous field trips, the children in Ms. Frizzle's class are all blase about such things; as they land on the Moon, Venus, and Mars, and fly by the other planets and the Sun, they comment on what they see, generate a blizzard of one- or two-sentence reports on special topics and--even while Ms. Frizzle is temporarily left behind in the asteroid belt--crack terrible jokes ("Could Saturn take a bath? Yes, but it might leave a ring!"). Although some of the information is radically simplified--people are said to float in space because "without a large mass nearby …they do not have weight"--Cole keeps the narrative specific without burdening it with loads of facts.
School bus Degen's fresh, energetic illustrations complement the breathless pace perfectly. A first-class introduction to the planets, fine for pleasure or purpose reading.
-John Peters, New
York Public Library Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Exploring the Night Sky: The Equinox Astronomy Guide for Beginners

Dickinson, Terrence
Firefly Books Ltd (February, 1987)

Ages 9-12
ISBN: 0920656668

(From School Library Journal)
stars"If starships are ever developed, there will be no shortage of destinations." With clarity and enthusiasm, Dickinson presents a look at the high frontier, combining a "universe in 40 jumps" sort of tour- taking readers from the Moon (1.3 light-seconds) to the galactic field in general (300 million light-years)with a quick spin about the solar system, adding season-by-season charts of the salient planets, stars, and constellations visible from North America. Dozens of color paintings and some photographs accompany the text, and there is a page of advice on choosing and using binoculars and telescopes. The information is readily available elsewhere, but not so engagingly presented. Thus this is a good additional purchase for heavily-used astronomy collections.
-John Peters
New York Public Library Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

The Moon Book

Gibbons, Gail
Holiday House (March, 1998)

Ages 4-8
ISBN: 0823413640

(From Booklist)
moonThis fully illustrated introductory book offers young children information about the moon: its orbit and phases, its place in solar and lunar eclipses, its effect on Earth's oceans, moon exploration, and the legends the moon has inspired in various cultures. Written clearly yet without too much detail, the text moves along quickly. The pictures and diagrams deserve study, as they help readers visualize such concepts as how the moon moves in relation to the earth and the sun and why it seems to change shape. Gibbons uses a spacious format to vary page layout, presenting each facet of the moon's story with a large illustration or a series of smaller ones. Her colorful pictures of people observing the moon seem all the more brilliant against backgrounds of midnight blue. A fine resource for school and public library collections.
-Carolyn Phelan

If You Decide To Go To The Moon

McNulty, Faith and Steven Kellogg (Illustrator)
Scholastic Press (October 1, 2005)

Ages 4-8
ISBN: 0590483595

(From School Library Journal)
In this lavish picture book, readers accompany a boy on a fascinating excursion to the moon. The lyrical text provides tips on what to pack and describes the distance to be covered. After blastoff, facts about space travel are mingled with descriptions of what the journey might be like: the loneliness, the lack of gravity, and how you might pass the time. After landing, the text warns: Your first step will be difficult. You will rise in the air and leap forward like a kangaroo, but once you learn how, walking will be fun.
child observing night sky It also suggests that the moon's lack of sound and color may make it seem like a dream. After viewing the flag left behind by astronauts, it's time to depart. As Earth looms closer, a four-page foldout in a glorious burst of color marks our planet's contrast to the moon's black-and-white shades. These pages depict a variety of wonders: all sorts of animals and landscapes as well as people from different historical periods and locales. The narrative notes, Air and water are Earth's special blessings. We must guard them well. The final pages show the boy returning home. Rich artwork complements the strong text. Kellogg's generous splashes of bright hues in the Earth and shipboard scenes juxtaposed with the somber moonscapes set the appropriate moods. Houston, we have a winner!
–DeAnn Tabuchi,
San Anselmo Public Library, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Exploring Our Solar System

Ride, Sally and Tam O'Shaughnessy
Crown Books for Young Readers; 1st edition (November, 2003)

Ages 9-15
ISBN: 0375812040

(From Booklist)
In this copiously illustrated volume, astronaut Ride and educator O'Shaughnessy offer a thrilling introduction to our solar system. Although our neighboring planets were "formed at about the same time and from about the same stuff," the authors write, "they are nine very different worlds." Each chapter takes readers on a planetary tour. The section on Earth includes a time line and theories of the evolution of life on our planet. The authors explain facts in simple, straightforward language that doesn't condescend to a young audience, and the visuals include exciting images from space, charts that contrast the planets' properties, and artists' renderings of unattainable space views and imagined explorations. Throughout, the authors successfully put the planets in wider context, as in the section "Venus, Earth and Mars- -Why They Are So Different." Useful appended charts, including a full listing of all space flights, add to the appeal. Visually arresting and clearly presented, this is an obvious choice for both public and school libraries.
- Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved.


Our Solar System

Simon, Seymour
HarperCollins (September 21, 1992)

Ages 9-12
ISBN: 0688099920

(From School Library Journal)
cometHaving worked his way through individual volumes on the Sun and its galactic companions, Simon now offers a brief overview of the solar system itself. The full-color photographs and illustrations are spectacular. Each of the planets gets several pages of coverage, with comets, meteors, and asteroids also receiving attention. This book serves best as an introduction to the single topic books since the information presented here is quite brief. The endpapers have a nicely organized chart of useful statistics such as diameter, rotation period, revolution period, etc., for each planet. Not sufficient in itself for most report needs, this title's eye-catching illustrations and understandable text should encourage young readers to look for further information.
-- Elaine Fort Weischedel,
Turner Free Library, Randolph, MA
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Astronomy for Every Kid : 101 Easy Experiments that Really Work.

Van Cleave, Janice.
Jossey-Bass (March, 1991)

Ages 9-12
ISBN: 0471535737

Why do planets spin? How hot is the Sun? What keeps the Moon in orbit around the Earth? What are Saturn’s rings made of? What’s a black hole in space? Now you can discover the answers to these and other fascinating questions about basic astronomy. In Astronomy for Every Kid you’ll learn about the constellations using a shoe box planetarium. You’ll chart the movement of the stars with nothing but a string, a marker, and a nail. sunAnd you’ll use a toy magnet to simulate the Earth’s protective force field. Each of the 101 experiments is broken down into its purpose, a list of materials, step-by-step instructions, expected results, and an easy to understand explanation. Every activity has been pretested and can be performed safely and inexpensively in the classroom or at home.

Galileo Galilei: Inventor, Astronomer, and Rebel

White, Michael
Blackbirch Press; 1st U.S. ed edition (September, 1999)

Ages 9-12
ISBN: 1567113257

...engaging and clearly written. Full-captioned color and black-and- white reproductions and photographs as well as boxed quotes enhance the text on almost every page. Galileo covers the life and accomplishments of the great scientist and is full of the drama of persecution, court trials, and house arrests. White does an excellent job of explaining the background of the conflict between the scientists of the time and the Catholic Church. He also includes many interesting tidbits, such as the fact that Galileo timed things by taking his pulse and then subsequently discovered the pendulum, which led to the invention of clocks and timekeeping. The volume concludes with a time line of important events in the scientist's life. Excellent additions to the science collections of school and public libraries.
-Maren Ostergard,
Bellevue Regional Library, WA

Galileo Galilei

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