Sky Gazing: A Guide to the Moon, Sun, Planets, Stars, Eclipses, and Constellations

Storey. Oct. 2020. 132p. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781635860962.
Gr 4-8–The deep origin and projected future of the universe? How to observe the sky effectively from your own neighborhood? The composition, density, and temperature of our sun? It’s all here. Thacher, who teaches astronomy at Smith College and runs a summer science and engineering program for high school girls, offers a clear, highly engaging narrative voice throughout the text. The pages are visually stunning and include colorful backgrounds, small chunks of text, multiple drawings, comics, illustrations, and gorgeous photos. Some sections explain elements of basic science, such as how the solar system came to be. A recurring cartoon character called “Star Dude” provides definitions and other salient facts. In a chapter about constellations, Thacher features star stories from southern Africa, China, the Indigenous people of North America, Polynesia, and ancient Greece. Additional chapters focus on the sky, the moon, the sun, planets, and stars. Many sections include instructions for crafts, such as how to make a red flashlight to protect night vision or a pinhole projector to view an image of a solar eclipse. Source notes are not included, but Thacher lists two pages of recommended resources.
VERDICT This title is a bonanza for upper-elementary or middle school independent reading, especially for students with an interest in the sciences.

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