Beyond the Solar System: Exploring Galaxies, Black Holes, Alien Planets, and More: A History with 21 Activities

124p. charts. chron. diags. further reading. glossary. illus. index. maps. photos. reprods. websites. Chicago Review Press. 2013. pap. $18.95. ISBN 978-1-61374-544-1. LC 2012046330.
Gr 5–8—Beginning with a two-page time line spanning prehistory to 2009, this chronological survey of astronomy covers early observations and discoveries, concentrating on modern findings. Beautiful color photographs of space engage readers from the first page. Drawings and diagrams expand upon theories, and illustrations of Galileo, Newton, and William and Caroline Herschel put faces on these prominent scientists. Activities relevant to each chapter, are sprinkled throughout the book, such as making an astrolabe from string; creating a three-dimensional starscape to demonstrate the distances between the stars in a constellation; inflating a balloon covered with stickers representing stars to measure the changing distances in an expanding universe, and more. The three-page glossary provides short definitions of terms (e.g., "eclipse," "dark matter," etc.), and many of these terms are listed in the five-page index and take readers to specifics. For example, the observations and photographs of the 1919 total eclipse of the sun revealed the bending of light around the dark sun, thus validating Einstein's theory of relativity. The resources section lists astronomy websites, sky watching and star-chart sites, and books for further reading. This inviting and informative comprehensive survey will be useful for homework assignments and may send young scientists to further studies of astronomy.—Frances E. Millhouser, formerly with Fairfax County Public Library, VA

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