Themed Reviews

Asteroids, Comets, Meteorites, Black Holes and More

   Space for those of us who grew up in the Star Trek era was the final frontier and we were fascinated by the possibilities of danger from asteroids, seeing and understanding coments and watching Haley’s Comet flash across our sky. Now black holes once the grist of science fiction are indeed real. Incidentally, the name 'black hole' was invented by John Archibald Wheeler, and seems to have stuck because it was much catchier than previous names. Before Wheeler came along, these objects were often referred to as 'frozen stars.' These facts and much more can be gleaned from the sites listed and the books highlighted in this feature.

http://www.nasa.gov/audience/foreducators/topnav/schedule/extrathemes/F_Asteroids_Comets_Meteorites_Extra.html
http://www.nasa.gov/audience/foreducators/topnav/materials/listbysubject/Asteroids_Comets_Meteorites_landingpage.html
http://hubblesite.org/explore_astronomy/black_holes/
http://cosmology.berkeley.edu/Education/BHfaq.html

Contributor: Marilyn Courtot

 

Reviews

Asteroids, Comets, and Meteorites
Steve Kortenkamp
   Part of the “First Facts” series for young readers, this Solar System set has been updated for 2008. Each slim, square book presents the basics in six to eight chapters with bright color photos and drawings, adding extra interest with “Fun Facts” and “Amazing but True!” pages. While the text is brief and written in short sentences, the vocabulary and some concepts may be difficult for early readers unless they are already fans of outer space. This title introduces three types of objects in our solar system other than planets. Asteroids (rocky bits orbiting the Sun) come in many sizes and are covered with craters. The author describes comets as icy rocks which get too close to Neptune and are swung into orbit by its gravity; they move at different rates in long, elliptical paths, gaining new tails each time they approach the Sun. (Readers may be intrigued to learn that they may see Halley’s comet in 2062.) Blazing in the sky, meteors sometimes drop to Earth when not consumed by its atmosphere; pictured is a huge meteorite found in Namibia. Young astronomers learn that scientists collect information from space objects (meteorites, amazingly, fall from space every day), to help understand our solar system. Though this publisher persists in recommending FactHound as a source for Internet sites, there is nothing about comets, asteroids, or meteorites listed on the web site. Each title has the usual glossary, bibliography, and index. 2008, Capstone, $21.26. Ages 6 to 8. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9781429600590
ISBN: 1429600594

Asteroids, Comets, and Meteors
Rosalind Mist
   The first two pages provide a definition and overview of the Solar System. A drawing shows the size of the planets “roughly to scale, but the distances between them are not to scale.” Browsing readers can look for the eye-catching star facts that are found throughout the book. Clear, simple sentences provide explanations of asteroids, comets, meteors and meteorites. There are color photos of four famous comets: Hale-Bopp, Hyakutake, McNaught, and West. There are a few experiments for readers. Readers can see what the Giotto space probe looks like and can view a photo of Haley’s Comet taken by it. The photos are clear and interesting. A Glossary and index are also included. The final page contains notes for parents and teachers offering further information and an experiment. A mix of drawing and photographs in this twenty-four page book will help both browsers and students working on assignments. Sidebars are distinguished from the main text by print size. This is part of the “QEB Solar System” series which, taken as a whole, provides a good introduction for young readers to the sun, planets, moons, meteors, asteroids and comets. 2008, QEB Publishing, Ages 8 to 10, $24.25, $16.95. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 978-1-59566-583-6

Asteroids and Meteorites: Catastrophic Collisions With Earth
Timothy Kusky.
   If you've ever taught about characteristics of asteroids and meteorites using the usual one or two pages from a textbook and found the information lacking, then this book is for you and your middle school, high school, or even college students. One of eight volumes in the Hazardous Earth series, this volume clearly discusses and illustrates the topic. This series is both readable and suitable for reference. This book begins with a historical perspective, reviews characteristics, and provides clear examples and processes associated with asteroids and meteorites. It fulfills the author's goal, which is "to provide middle-and high-school students and college students with a readable yet comprehensive account of asteroids and meteorites." Greyscale diagrams provide illustrations, and interesting sidebars add historical connections. The book's chapters are structured so that they can be used as stand-alone topics. In addition, the book contains an easy-to-use appendix accompanied by a well-written glossary, with an extensive list for further reading and up-to-date websites. The index provides a quick-and-easy method for locating specific information for teachers or students. The photos used throughout the book present realistic visual information. However, be aware that there is more reading material than photos or graphics in this book; it has everything you wanted to know and much more! I highly recommend this book as a reference or supplement to the normal textbook fare. The rich and abundant details can enrich core content and will fascinate those who want to learn more. Grades 6-12. 2008, Facts On File, Inc., 130p, $39.50. Ages 11 to 18. Reviewer: Coralee Smith (National Science Teachers Association (NSTA)).
ISBN: 9780816064694
ISBN: 0816064695

Beyond: A Solar System Voyage
Michael Benson.
   Space and the moon landing are in focus for the year 2009 and especially the month of July which brings us the 40th anniversary of the moon landing. Fabulous as that was, what we have learned about our solar system and beyond is just as exciting. Most of this knowledge has been gleaned by unmanned space probes which have become more and more sophisticated and send back incredible pictures like the ones on the jacket of this book. Saturn and its rings are enough to entice most any reader to open up this book. The back cover depicts Jupiter and the actual hard cover of the book features two pictures from planet Mars, which is one of the upcoming targets of human exploration. The organization of the book is one that appeals to me--there is a brief history featuring early thinkers and astronomers and how they saw the solar system. It may be eye-opening for some to realize that the Assyrian’s made star charts and that the Babylonians were able to predict eclipses. Some names like Galileo and Copernicus will be familiar, as may be the name of the first man to travel in space, Russia’s Yuri Gagarin. His accomplishment spurred the U.S. to establish NASA and get really serious about putting a man on the Moon. The book addresses the history of space exploration chronologically, as men built probes that could photograph the moon and show its backside for the first time, and then moves on to cover probes that could stand the incredible heat of Venus and Mercury and the freezing cold of Mars and the outer planets. The photographs are something to savor: gorgeous shots of the Earth, Sun, Mars and so much more. One spread shows a sunset on Mars, which is the reverse of what we see on Earth. Others show moons, planets, and planetary rings, as well as land forms and volcanic activity on these distant worlds. Pictures are set on black pages with the text printed in white, which may be a little challenging for young readers, although the text itself could be read by someone in middle school. The closing pages comment on the “astonishing process of discovery that has led us to our current understanding of our Solar System and the greater Galaxy and Universe.” There is a glossary, index, and notes and photo credits as well as a selected bibliography and list of web sites. This book would make a great addition to any middle school or public library. 2009, Harry N. Abrams, $19.95. Ages 12 up. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780810983229
ISBN: 0810983222

Black Holes and Other Bizarre Space Objects
David Jefferis
   Third-grade children love black holes. There are are no limits to the endless and bountiful mind of a nine-year old. Questions about "bizarre space objects" always come up when we study more familiar space objects like the Earth, Moon, and Sun. This book will capture that interest, opening minds to space science concepts. After exploring the making of black holes, their parts, and where and how they are formed, the book describes other space phenomena that students might have encountered in the media. These include wormholes, micro stars, weird worlds, and danger in space. Two-page layouts with pictures and descriptions illustrate each concept. New content words are bolded, and a glossary adequately defines these difficult words, making them appeal to younger readers without overwhelming them. This book is an ideal introductory experience for your class unit on astronomy. Grades K-8. Keywords: Earth History, Planetary Sciences, Space. 2006, Crabtree Publishing Company, 32p, $8.95. Ages 5 to 14. Reviewer: Teri Cosentino (National Science Teachers Association (NSTA)).
ISBN: 0778728560
ISBN: 0778728706
ISBN: 9780778728566
ISBN: 9780778728702

Comets, Asteroids, and Meteors
Raman K. Prinja
   The Universe series is a richly illustrated series of 11 books on the solar system, stars, and constellations, all following basically the same format. Each book includes a “fact file” on the subject of its title, a glossary, an index, and a list of books for further reading. None of the books include any Web site addresses for further reference. The series is intended for grades 7 and 8, ages at which many readers have enough information about astronomy to wonder whether some of what is written is correct. Readers would be right to question numerous issues in the series—issues that might have been handled differently or correctly. In the book on Mercury, it is stated that “It is not very big, but it glows” (p. 4). That Mercury glows would suggest that the planet is giving off its own light, not reflecting sunlight. Later, it is asserted that “As a result, all of the planets except Pluto…” (p. 15). Of course, Pluto is no longer considered a planet. Given the copyright date of 2008, this error should have been corrected. In Earth, the caption of the illustration states (apparently in contradiction to what was just cited), “This picture shows all eight planets of our solar system from Mercury to Neptune…” (p. 5). In the same volume, the statement “the lowest spacecraft orbit Earth at 322 miles” (p. 13) is incorrect by some 100 miles. In the book on Mars, it is stated that “The best time of night to see it depends on the time of year.” This statement suggests that Mars is seen the same time of night from year to year, depending on the time of the year. That, of course, is not correct. The Outer Planets states, “Scientists think that Uranus and Pluto might have been knocked into their tilted positions by large meteors long ago.” Meteors are the flashes of light one sees when meteoroids burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere. This error is repeated in Comets, Asteroids, and Meteors, which should be correctly titled Comets, Asteroids, and Meteoroids. Page 4 states, “Meteors are pieces of rock…”; no, meteoroids are pieces of rock. Page 6 gives the correct definition of a meteor. Although all these errors do not invalidate the usefulness of this series, they are rather obvious and should have been corrected. (from the Universe Series.) Illus; Glossary; Index; C.I.P. Acceptable, Grades 7-8. 2007, Heinemann, 32pp., $19.75. Ages 12 to 14. Reviewer: Thomas A. Lesser (Science Books and Films (Vol. 44, No. 1)).
ISBN: 9781432901622
ISBN: 1432901621
ISBN: 9781432901745
ISBN: 1432901745

Comets, Stars, The Moon, And Mars: Space Poems and Paintings
Douglas Florian
   Florian is a child-loved illustrator-poet who has joined the ranks of favorites like Jack Prelutsky and Shel Silverstein. As usual in this book, Florian encapsulates the sense of things in a way that catches readers unawares, often with humor. Generally his art is simple drawings, but these are ethereal and elegant renderings. His initial poem and art set the tone well: “The universe is every place,/Including all the e m p t y space.” Florian visually represents the vastness with extra gaps between letters on a blue double-page spread. The page is illuminated with collaged bits of old newspaper clippings about space, painted concentric circles, and an old print of a rayed sun. On the next page a spiraled poem describes a galaxy by using miscellaneously shaped spirals circling about to mirror the concept. With cut-outs, colors, and word play Florian goes on to describe celestial bodies and ideas--from planets to black holes--with perceptions sure to set a child to wondering and longing. He offers a last tease in his final poem, “The Great Beyond” with “Great galaxies spin,/While bright comets race. And I’d tell you more, /But I’ve run out of space.” 2007, Harcourt, $16.00. Ages 5 to 8. Reviewer: Susie Wilde (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780152053727
ISBN: 0152053727

Cosmic!
Giles Sparrow
   The front cover opens with an explosive pop-up and an actual, but muted, “bang” of sound as stars, galaxies and space particles fly up toward the reader. The information in the book begins with an explanation of the big bang theory and concludes with future plans for exploration of other worlds by unmanned robotic spacecraft. We have come to respect the publisher, Dorling Kindersley (DK), as an outstanding producer of educational material for young people and this is a fine example of their output. The increase of knowledge about the universe in the last 20 years is remarkable and DK brought together an excellent team of experts and artists to explain and illustrate it in this book. The page headings tell the story: From the Big Bang to the Early Universe; Looking into Space; The Planets; Our Solar System and Minor Worlds; Stars; Galaxies and Exploring Space. There are three pop-ups, two wheels to turn, three sets of fold-out pages to enlarge and enhance the illustrations and flaps to lift, all designed to help the reader better understand the text. Owning this book or even having access to it will be a treat for anyone, young or old, who has ever stepped outside on a clear, dark night to look up at the stars with curiosity and wonder. 2008, Dorling Kindersley, $24.99. Ages 8 up. Reviewer: Eleanor Heldrich (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780756640217
ISBN: 0756640210

Death By Black Hole And Other Cosmic Quandaries [Audiobook]
Neil DeGrasse Tyson
Read by Dion Graham
   This collection of 42 essays on cosmic phenomena like black holes and quasars will appeal to any student or teacher interested in astrophysics, astronomy or science in general. Although it helps to have some scientific knowledge to fully understand some of these topics, the author, who is an essayist for Natural History magazine and the head of the Hayden Planetarium, is an expert at making science interesting and accessible to most listeners with a cursory knowledge of science. Not only does he explain topics like black holes, he actually takes the reader to the edge of one, adding drama and excitement to his description of dry topics like particle physics and relativity and bringing insights from Einstein and other famous scientists to his stories. Each essay is a journey, sometimes exciting and sometimes philosophical. Narrator Graham has the well-modulated voice of a preacher and his reading is smooth and entertaining. Listening to more than one essay at a time may lead to cosmic overload, but science lovers will be challenged to reach for the stars. Category: Nonfiction Audiobook. KLIATT Codes: SA--Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2007, Blackstone Audio, 10 cds. 12 hrs.; Vinyl; content, author, reader notes., $90.00. Ages 15 to adult. Reviewer: Nola Theiss (KLIATT Review, November 2007 (Vol. 41, No. 6)).
ISBN: 1433202115
ISBN: 9781433202117

Galaxies
Dan Elish
   The book cover depicts a massive, swirling galaxy with various colorful stars and nebulae clouds. This intriguing picture will grab any child’s attention to study galaxies! Each chapter offers one or two paragraphs on each page with supportive photographs or historical drawings. Important words are italicized and explained in each paragraph and defined in the rear glossary. Concepts like black holes, gravity, quasars, and different types of galaxies are explained at an elementary student’s level. Important historical persons and their discoveries are discussed in this book. Historical information helps students understand how we began learning about galaxies and where we find them. And the big question puzzling scientists is whether Earth carries the only known life found in the universe. Many different galaxies are discussed; however, it would have been helpful to see labeled pictures identifying or comparing the varying galaxies. Students, parents, and teachers can use this book for book reports or informative reading in the classroom or at home. 2007, Marshall Cavendish Corp., $19.95. Ages 8 to 12. Reviewer: Lisa P. Hill (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780761420477
ISBN: 0761420479

Kingfisher Pocket Guide To the Night Sky
James Muirden.
   This book is little, as in portable, which makes it a must for the amateur stargazer’s pocket or backpack. Its very size and scope keep it from overloading the novice with information. Despite its small size, it is crammed, like a black hole, with information that is presented in a very user-friendly fashion. The backyard enthusiast will find good information describing how to get the most out of watching the nighttime sky. Like most guides of its kind, it is authoritative and easy to use. Its goal is to be a reference for either the casual stargazer or the amateur astronomer. In that, it succeeds admirably. While there is extensive use of illustrations, and the illustrations are classic, there are sections such as the constellation guide that would benefit from a more widespread use of photographic images, especially in light of the fact that there are many that are really good and serve to enhance the subject. It is a solid, basic reference. We particularly liked the illustrations and diagrams like the ones featuring Stellar Temperature, eclipses, motion of the planets, plus various projections of the sky that present the information clearly and concisely as a reference of this sort should. Besides the stargazers’ interest there are sections discussing and illustrating things beyond the amateur enthusiast’s range like black holes. While we would have enjoyed more Hubble photographs and updated images of the planets, both of us liked this book, it does its job well, and we feel it merits a cookie. 2006, Houghton Mifflin Company, $6.95. Ages 10 to 14. Reviewer: Mary Ashcliffe and Thad Ashcliffe (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780753459966
ISBN: 0753459965

Monster of the Milky Way: A Supermassive Black Hole
   Numerous tantalizing clues, such as stars with irregular paths, led astronomers to suspect that one of astronomy's mysterious, unobservable phenomenon, a supermassive black hole, lurks at the center of our galaxy. New technologies including infrared detectors and adaptive optics enabled scientists to confirm its existence. Astronomers working with computers, telescopes, x-rays, radio receivers, photos, and computer simulations describe their searches and the excitement of their discoveries as they explain the latest reasoning about how black holes are born, their characteristics, roles in creating galaxies, and their effect on neighboring objects. These enthusiastic galactic explorers do an excellent job of helping to make the incomprehensible, comprehensible. The program will enliven astronomy units and may encourage students to learn more about this powerful phenomenon.[Editor's Note: Also available in VHS format.] Recommended. 2006, WGBH Boston Video, 56 min., $19.95. Ages 11 to 18. Reviewer: Anitra Gordon (Library Media Connection, October 2007).
ISBN: 1593756526
ISBN: 9781593756529

The Mysterious Universe: Supernovae, Dark Energy, and Black Holes
Ellen Jackson
Photographs by Nic Bishop
   Ellen Jackson and Nic Bishop acquaint young stargazers with a real astronomical “star” in this far from typical space book. Renowned astronomer Alex Filippenko is the focus of the newest title in the “Scientists in the Field” series. A slice of Filippenko’s career is dissected as readers are invited into his classroom at the University of California, Berkeley, to Mauna Kea in Hawaii, home of the Keck Telescope, and to the Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton in California. Because of the short amount of time each team of visiting astronomers is allotted to work with the telescopes, there is a real sense of urgency that Jackson grasps in her writing. Filippenko and his graduate student, Ryan Foley, have just a few nights to search the skies for their exploding stars. Will they find what they are looking for? Information about supernovae, as well as dark energy and black holes provide a stellar backdrop to Filippenko’s story. For further explanation, kids may want to pair this with a copy of the universal visual encyclopedia, Planets, Stars, and Galaxies, by David A. Aguilar. This is a most intriguing look at the life and work of a modern-day astronomer. Perhaps an additional purchase for smaller libraries, but larger branches and school libraries will want to have a copy of this title on hand for students with a penchant for the skies. 2008, Viking/Penguin, $18.00. Ages 10 to 14. Reviewer: Kristy Lyn Sutorius (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780618563258
ISBN: 0618563253

Planets, Stars, and Galaxies
Gordon Ritter
   When you pick up Planets, Stars, and Galaxies and consider the book’s title, binding, and brevity, you expect a volume filled with images and rich descriptions of these celestial objects. This volume is far from that. True to its introduction, the author helps the reader answer precisely the where, what, and how of our universe, using explanations of physics concepts governing the components and behaviors of galaxies. As part of the Physics in Action series, this book takes a highly mathematical approach to gravity, planetary motion, stellar radiation, and cosmology. While the publisher indicates that the book is for children of all ages and lists it in its collection for grades 6-12, it is clearly meant for readers with a knowledge of functions, graphical analysis, and trigonometry (all topics in advanced high school mathematics). The author develops first and second derivatives and employs vector analysis to investigate planetary motion and principles of relativity. The information is clearly and concisely presented with supporting diagrams and graphs. This mathematical treatise is enlivened by historical information on ancient and modern contributors to our understanding of the solar system, stellar characteristics, and cosmology along with images of heavenly objects and phenomena. The book has an excellent glossary and index, as well as a significant bibliography, but a disappointingly short section on further readings or resources. This text will be valuable for high school or college students who are mathematically inclined and fascinated by astronomy or for a skilled individual with the desire understand the physics underlying the workings of our universe. (Physics in Action Series.) Glossary; Index; C.I.P. Recommended, Grades 9-College. 2007, Chelsea House, 120pp., $30.00 Ages 14 to Adult. Reviewer: Barbara A. Gage (Science Books and Films (Vol. 44, No. 4)).
ISBN: 9780791089330
ISBN: 0791089339

The Solar System and Beyond
Gerard Cheshire
   This nonfiction text in the “Fundamental Physics Series” begins with a study of our planet Earth, both inside and out. Following are chapters concerning gravity and space, moons and satellites, suns and stars, and then a look at each of the planets in the solar system. The last chapter discusses things scientists have learned from the study of our universe, including such topics as galaxies, black holes, and the search for extraterrestrial life. A short introduction explains what the reader will learn and tells about the blue feature boxes that appear throughout the book. There are “Did You Know?” facts, “Test Yourself” questions, “Investigate” experiments, and “Time Travel” discoveries. Answers to the “Test Yourself” and “Investigate” features, an index, and a glossary are included at the end. Words that are highlighted in bold print throughout the text are found in the glossary. Interesting photographs, graphs, timelines, and illustrations help clarify the concepts. This is a helpful text for the study of key facts about the solar system. 2007 (orig. 2006), Smart Apple Media, $34.95. Ages 12 up. Reviewer: Vicki Foote (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9781583409985
ISBN: 158340998X

Space and Astronomy
Sorcha McDonagh and Emily Sohn
   Space and Astronomy is a compilation of articles from Science News for Kids, an online publication. The articles (spanning 2003-2005) cover a wide range of active research areas, from the characteristics of stars, to extrasolar planets, to dark matter. The information is engaging, but does not overwhelm the reader. Many of the segments have a section called “Going Deeper” that provides Internet references to more detailed articles in Science News or to other science sites and archives on the same subject. Colored photographs illustrate and enhance conceptual material very effectively. Some of the articles have introductory questions to stimulate interest, while others have boxed questions in the margin regarding material just covered. Although intended as a review, the boxed questions would have been better pedagogically if they were placed before the information was presented, so as to engage the reader, rather than present him or her with a test of reading comprehension. In some instances, an article concludes with an “After Reading” segment that poses thought-provoking questions or suggests thought experiments. The book has a good glossary with entries that are highlighted in the articles. While the material is generally well presented, the reader can become frustrated by the inconsistency in capitalization of “sun” and “moon,” referring to those specific members of our solar system. Also, there is at least one incorrect term used (“planet” instead of “star”) that is sure to confuse the reader. Barring these errors, the book is good addition to a middle school science collection. (Science News for Kids Series) Glossary; Index. Recommended, Grades 5-8. 2006, Chelsea House, 122pp., $30.00. Ages 10 to 14. Reviewer: Barbara A. Gage (Science Books and Films (Vol. 42, No. 5)).
ISBN: 0791091252
ISBN: 9780791091258

Space Science. Just How Big Is Space?
   Stellar production! Literally. This is one of an eight-part series produced to support the core space science curriculum. This title explores the immensity of space and how scientists measure it. Other titles in the series explore the planets, the sun and stars, black holes and pulsars, living in space, life on other planets, space exploration, and the invisible universe. Correlated to national standards and with teacher's guides available online, this production introduces students to astronomy, astrophysics, aerospace engineering, the history of space exploration, and the process of scientific inquiry. Each production includes awesome footage from NASA space probes such as Hubble or CHIPS, commentary by leading scientists and researchers, and animated diagrams that make complex concepts easier to understand. Preview clips are available online at (www.cambridgeeducational.com). The teacher's guide includes 14 pages of notes, vocabulary, pre- and post-discussion questions, group and individual activities, Internet activities, assessment questions, and additional resources. The DVD version has on-demand English subtitles and easy chapter access.[Editor's Note: Also available in VHS format.] Highly Recommended. 2006, Cambridge Educational, 27 min., $89.95. Ages 12 to 18. Reviewer: Donna Reed (Library Media Connection, February 2007).
ISBN: 1421341484
ISBN: 9781421341484

Stars
Robin Birch
   Originally published in Australia, this “New Solar System” series delivers the latest astronomical news through 2008, illustrations on every page, and lots of statistics. In five or six brief chapters, young scientists will learn about bodies in our solar system and exploration that provided the information. In Stars, readers will discover that stars are “huge balls of glowing gas” that seem to twinkle in our atmosphere; though they’re light years away, we can see many of them through binoculars. Budding astronomers will find a wealth of information here about galaxies, the Milky Way, star formation, colors and temperatures, and the death of stars. A chapter on constellations relates that ancient astronomers saw patterns in the stars and told stories about them (today there are 88, named in Latin) and then guides readers through some famous groups like Ursa Major and Minor, Canis Major and Sirius, Orion the Hunter and its nebulae, as well as the twelve (or now, thirteen) zodiac constellations. Those intrigued by space exploration will discover that scientists study stars with satellites and spectrometers, which break up starlight into spectra; optical and radio telescopes collect light and radio waves, as the Hubble Space Telescope discovers new stars, nebulae, and galaxies. Clear, no-nonsense text moves along briskly, while illustrations (mostly in saturated colors on dark backgrounds) are eye-catching. Further help includes a “Star Fact Summary,” a glossary, and a list of websites. 2008 (orig. 2004), Chelsea Clubhouse/Chelsea House (orig. Macmillan Education Australia), Ages 8 to 11, $23.00. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft
ISBN: 978-1-60413-206-9

Stars and Constellations
Raman K. Prinja
   The Universe series is a richly illustrated series of 11 books on the solar system, stars, and constellations, all following basically the same format. Each book includes a “fact file” on the subject of its title, a glossary, an index, and a list of books for further reading. None of the books include any Web site addresses for further reference. The series is intended for grades 7 and 8, ages at which many readers have enough information about astronomy to wonder whether some of what is written is correct. Readers would be right to question numerous issues in the series—issues that might have been handled differently or correctly. In the book on Mercury, it is stated that “It is not very big, but it glows” (p. 4). That Mercury glows would suggest that the planet is giving off its own light, not reflecting sunlight. Later, it is asserted that “As a result, all of the planets except Pluto…” (p. 15). Of course, Pluto is no longer considered a planet. Given the copyright date of 2008, this error should have been corrected. In Earth, the caption of the illustration states (apparently in contradiction to what was just cited), “This picture shows all eight planets of our solar system from Mercury to Neptune…” (p. 5). In the same volume, the statement “the lowest spacecraft orbit Earth at 322 miles” (p. 13) is incorrect by some 100 miles. In the book on Mars, it is stated that “The best time of night to see it depends on the time of year.” This statement suggests that Mars is seen the same time of night from year to year, depending on the time of the year. That, of course, is not correct. The Outer Planets states, “Scientists think that Uranus and Pluto might have been knocked into their tilted positions by large meteors long ago.” Meteors are the flashes of light one sees when meteoroids burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere. This error is repeated in Comets, Asteroids, and Meteors, which should be correctly titled Comets, Asteroids, and Meteoroids. Page 4 states, “Meteors are pieces of rock…”; no, meteoroids are pieces of rock. Page 6 gives the correct definition of a meteor. Although all these errors do not invalidate the usefulness of this series, they are rather obvious and should have been corrected. (from the Universe Series.) Illus; Glossary; Index; C.I.P. Acceptable, Grades 7-8. 2007, Heinemann, 32pp., $19.75. Ages 12 to 14. Reviewer: Thomas A. Lesser (Science Books and Films (Vol. 44, No. 1)).
ISBN: 9781432901707
ISBN: 1432901702
ISBN: 9781432901820
ISBN: 1432901826

Stars and Galaxies
Ron Miller
   Stars begin their lives as a cloud of dust, thousands of times larger than the sun. When this cloud cools it begins to collapse. As more material moves toward the center of the cloud the pull of gravity is greater. As the cloud gets smaller the molecules are closer together and the cloud gets warmer. In one year the cloud can become ten thousand times smaller. The core of the cloud becomes very hot. The collapsing cloud is called a protostar. Fusion is the process of creating a new element, in this case helium, which is twice as heavy as the original hydrogen. This releases great amounts of energy. Stars are all formed in more or less the same way. What makes them different is their mass, or the amount of hydrogen each contains. Some stars end their "lives" in a violent explosion that in a few days releases as much energy as our sun would in 10,000 years. This exploding star is called a nova. This book is well illustrated by the author with photographs from The Space Telescope Science Institute. Part of the "Worlds Beyond" series. 2006, Twenty-First Century Books, $27.93. Ages 10 to Adult. Reviewer: Kristin Harris (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 0761334661
ISBN: 9780761334668

What are Stars?
Carmen Bredeson
   Reminiscent of the “Magic School Bus” series--and just as effective for budding astronomers--the fourth book in Bredeson’s “I Like Space!” series focuses the telescope on stars. A brief but stellar prologue appears first thing, prepping young readers with need-to-know vocabulary. Questions make up the chapter titles, and each spread that follows poses and answers those questions, sharpening kids’ basic knowledge of these celestial bodies. A bit more challenging than Bredeson’s “Rookie Read-About Science” books about outer space, this title offers a variety of insights into these diamonds in the sky. Everyday questions young readers may ask--“Why do stars twinkle?” and “Where do stars go during the day?”--are balanced with more scientific queries, such as “What happens when a star gets old?” and “How long does starlight take to reach Earth?” Stunning photographs balance the awkward astronauts floating around the book. A closer look reveals one body used four times with different male and female heads. Despite the artistic pitfalls, this is an appropriately light but satisfying introduction to a limitless topic. 2008, Enslow Publishers, $22.60. Ages 6 to 10. Reviewer: Kristy Lyn Sutorius (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780766029439
ISBN: 0766029433

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Updated 10/27/09

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