Tag Archives: astronomy

To the Moon! by Jeffrey Kluger

To the Moon!: The True Story of the American Heroes on the Apollo 8 Spaceship by Jeffrey Kluger. March 20, 2018. Philomel Books, 288 p. ISBN: 9781524741013.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 8.9; Lexile: 1180.

The true story of Apollo 8, the first crewed spaceship to break free of the Earth’s orbit and reach the moon.

The year was 1968, and the American people were still reeling from the spacecraft fire that killed the Apollo 1 crew a year earlier. On top of that, there were rumors that the Russian cosmonauts were getting ready to fly around the moon. NASA realized that they needed to take a bold step — and that they needed to take it now. They wanted to win the space race against Russia and hold true to President Kennedy’s promise to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. So in a risky move, a few days before Christmas of that year, they sent Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders to the moon!

This book tells the story of these three men, the frantic rush to get their rocket ready, and the journey that gave the American people — and the world — a new look at the planet we live on and the corner of space we inhabit.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

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Reviews

Booklist (January 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 9))
Grades 6-9. In 1968, astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders were training for their mission to orbit Earth when they learned that their planned flight had been changed. With only 16 weeks to prepare, they would be circling the moon instead. This young readers edition of Kluger’s Apollo 8: The Thrilling Story of the First Mission to the Moon (2017) briefly traces Borman’s career, before focusing on those 16 weeks of specialized training and the memorable six-day journey. Full of details, this account of the astronauts’ experiences gives readers the sense that they’re along for the ride, keenly aware of the physical challenges of space flight, but sharing moments of awestruck wonder as well. After explaining the backdrop of the Space Race, Kluger tells the main story with a good balance of technological details and human-interest narratives, including the scenes of the astronauts’ families during the long, tense days between liftoff and splashdown. Illustrations (some not seen) include photos and diagrams. An engaging, informative account of the Apollo 8 mission.

Kirkus Reviews (January 1, 2018)
In this account of the Apollo 8 flight, astronaut Frank Borman and his crewmates take the first manned trip around the moon at the height of the 1960s space race. With the assistance of Shamir, Kluger introduces readers to the central figure, Frank Borman, as a boy with dreams of flying who becomes a groundbreaking astronaut. Though there were earlier flights, the book begins with the Gemini 7 and includes all missions through Apollo 8. The pacing until the Apollo flights is slow, but the fascinating details about eating, sleeping, and taking care of business while in space will keep readers turning pages. The co-authors thoughtfully and naturally explain unfamiliar concepts such as how rockets launch and what makes them fly. The writing is best when exploring the people behind the history—the astronauts’ families, friendships, and sorrow at the loss of the Apollo 1 crew—but these compelling details are too few. Similarly, the narrative paints an incomplete picture of the 1960s, with only brief mentions of the civil rights movement, anti-war protests, and the Cold War. Though the tone overall is matter-of-fact, there are a few beautiful, poetic lines. The epilogue is a romantic ode to the space race with reminders of its remarkable legacy. In an author’s note, Kluger briefly describes his process and sources, but there is no formal bibliography. This detailed account of a lesser-known space flight varies in narrative quality but does just enough to draw in readers who grew up well after the space race. (photographs, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

About the Author

Jeffrey Kluger is a senior writer for TIME. He joined TIME as a contributor in 1996, and was named a senior writer in 1998. He has written a number of cover stories, including reports on the connection between sex and health, the Mars Pathfinder landing, the loss of the shuttle Columbia, and the collision aboard the Mir space station.

In 2002, Mr. Kluger along with two other colleagues, won First Place in the Overseas Press Club of America’s Whitman Bassow Award for best reporting in any medium on international environmental issues for their “Global Warming” cover package (April 9, 2001).

Prior to joining TIME, he was a staff writer for Discover magazine, where he wrote the Light Elements humor column. He was also a writer and editor for New York Times Business World Magazine, Family Circle, and Science Digest.

Mr. Kluger is the co-author, along with astronaut Jim Lovell, of Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13, which served as the basis of the “Apollo 13” movie released in 1995. He later wrote Journey Beyond Selene, a book about the unmanned exploration of the solar system, and is currently writing a book for Putnam about Jonas Salk and the Polio Vaccine.

Mr. Kluger is also a licensed attorney, and intermittently taught science journalism at New York University.

Jeffrey Kluger lives in Manhattan, New York, with his wife and two daughters. His website is jeffreykluger.com.

Teacher Resources

Apollo Space Program Lesson Plans

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To the Moon! on Amazon

To the Moon! on Goodreads

To the Moon! Publisher Page

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Impact! by Elizabeth Rusch

Impact!: Asteroids and the Science of Saving the World by Elizabeth Rusch. November 14, 2017. HMH Books for Young Readers, 80 p. ISBN: 9780544671591.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 7.6; Lexile: 1070.

Asteroids bombard our atmosphere all the time. Some are harmless, burning up in a flash of light. But others explode with a great sonic boom, smashing windows and throwing people to the ground. Worst of all, some asteroids strike our planet, blasting out massive craters and destroying everything nearby on impact.

Follow the award-winning author Elizabeth Rusch into the field with scientists as they search for dangerous asteroids in space, study asteroids that have smashed into the ground, and make plans to prevent an asteroid strike if one ever threatens our planet.

Part of Series: Scientists in the Field

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Booklist (November 15, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 6))
Grades 6-9. An asteroid crashes through the Earth’s atmosphere, hurtling toward the Russian town of Chelyabinsk, its blast injuring more than 1,500 people. This scene isn’t from the latest sf movie but the opening of this volume in the acclaimed Scientists in the Field series. With approximately 350 asteroids scattering meteorites across the Earth’s surface each year, scientists study asteroids and the dangers they pose. Each chapter looks at a related topic through the lens of a scientist and his or her work, such as Marc Fries, a meteorite hunter and curator of space rocks for NASA. Other chapters focus on how geologists deduced that an asteroid impact caused the extinction of dinosaurs and how astronomers search for asteroids from Earth and in space. The final and perhaps most riveting chapter looks at proposed approaches to stopping a potentially hazardous asteroid. Accompanied by photographs of scientists in action and requisite space shots, the book concludes with citizen science connections and resources and is sure to have an impact on young astronomers.

Kirkus Reviews (October 1, 2017)
In space and on Earth, scientists study asteroids in hopes of avoiding a disaster like the one that befell the dinosaurs.In this latest title in the long-running series, the author of The Mighty Mars Rover (2012) introduces researchers investigating smaller solar-orbiting space rocks: asteroids. Opening with a gripping description of fourth-graders’ experience of an asteroid strike in Russia in 2013, she explains what and where asteroids are and how they threaten our planet. Subsequent chapters follow several scientists: meteorite hunters; an impact crater specialist who explores Meteor Crater near Flagstaff, Arizona; an astronomer who uses a major telescope in Arizona to look for unknown near-Earth asteroids; the (female) principle investigator for NASA’s Near Earth Object Wide Infrared Survey Explorer mission; and an Indian-American astronomer, also working in Arizona (and the only nonwhite scientist profiled), identifying the origin of meteorites. One, David Kring, is the man whose research led to the identification of the crater off Yucatan left by the asteroid that changed Earth’s climate, causing the extinction of 75 percent of plants and animals alive at the time, including dinosaurs. Rusch concludes with a short list of possible methods for dealing with an asteroid that actually threatens Earth and includes a long, useful list of books and websites for reader involvement and further research. Lavishly illustrated with Anderson’s photographs, this wide-ranging sample of asteroid science presumes quite a bit of previous knowledge but will reward the enthusiast. (Nonfiction. 12-16)

About the Author

Elizabeth Rusch is an award-winning book author, magazine writer, editor, writing teacher and speaker. Her wide-ranging passions include astronomy, volcanology, art, music, history, nature, waves, jokes, crayons, and mud — anything that catches her fancy. She is inspired by stories of exploration and discovery, stories that have been overlooked by history, and stories that grapple with persistent questions. Whether writing fiction or nonfiction for children or adults or teaching workshops, she hopes her work opens doors, opens minds, opens possibilities. Her website is elizabethrusch.com

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Impact! on Amazon

Impact! on Goodreads

Impact!on JLG

Impact! Publisher Page

Chasing Space: Young Reader’s Edition by Leland Melvin

Chasing Space: Young Reader’s Edition by Leland Melvin. May 23, 2017. Amistad, 240 p. ISBN: 9780062665928.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.6; Lexile: 1020.

Meet Leland Melvin—football star, NASA astronaut, and professional dream chaser.

In this inspiring memoir, adapted from the simultaneous version for adults, young readers will get to learn about Leland Melvin’s remarkable life story, from being drafted by the Detroit Lions to bravely orbiting our planet in the International Space Station to writing songs with will.i.am, working with Serena Williams, and starring in top-rated television shows like The Dog WhispererTop Chef, and Child Genius.

When the former Detroit Lion’s football career was cut short by an injury, Leland didn’t waste time mourning his broken dream. Instead, he found a new one—something that was completely out of this world.

He joined NASA, braved an injury that nearly left him permanently deaf, and still managed to muster the courage and resolve to travel to space on the shuttle Atlantis to help build the International Space Station. Leland’s problem-solving methods and can-do attitude turned his impossible-seeming dream into reality.

Leland’s story introduces readers to the fascinating creative and scientific challenges he had to deal with in space and will encourage the next generation of can-do scientists to dare to follow their dreams. With do-it-yourself experiments in the back of the book and sixteen pages of striking full-color photographs, this is the perfect book for young readers looking to be inspired.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Racism, Hazing, Murder

 

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Author Talk

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (June 1, 2017)
Memoir of an astronaut whose road to space took an unusual twist—through the National Football League.Rewritten for younger audiences, this version of Melvin’s simultaneously publishing memoir for adults not only retraces his development from “a skinny black kid” who wanted to be the next Arthur Ashe to an engineer who flew on two space-shuttle missions, but is even capped with a trio of science projects. Though he pushes the conventional platitude that “hard work and dedication are all you need to succeed,” his experiences point more to the value of being ready to take full advantage of second chances when they come along—which they did in his (brief) NFL career, in college after he was suspended for (inadvertent, in his view) cheating, and later at NASA in the wake of a training injury that left him partially deaf. He has also enjoyed a second career as a speaker, educator, TV host, occasional poet, and songwriter with Pharrell and other musicians. Religious faith and racism sound occasional notes in his account, the latter underscored by a picture of his otherwise all-white astronaut class in one of the two photo sections, but he devotes warmer attention to tributes to his mentors, colleagues, role models—and, oddly, his dogs, whose lives and deaths make up much of what he has to say about his adult private life. A detailed picture of astronaut training and work, threaded on a decidedly unusual storyline. (Memoir. 11-14)

About the Author

A former wide receiver for the Detroit Lions, Leland Melvin is an engineer and NASA astronaut. He served on the space shuttle Atlantis as a mission specialist and was named the NASA Associate Administrator for Education in October 2010. He also served as the cochair on the White House’s Federal Coordination in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education Task Force, developing the nation’s five-year STEM education plan. He is the host of the Lifetime show Child Genius and a judge for ABC’s BattleBots. He holds four honorary doctorates and has received the NFL Player Association Award of Excellence. He lives in Lynchburg, Virginia.

His website is www.lelandmelvin.com

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Chasing Space on Amazon

Chasing Space on Goodreads

Chasing Space on JLG

Chasing Space Publisher Page

Seven Wonders of the Solar System by David A. Aguilar

Seven Wonders of the Solar System by David A. Aguilar. May 30, 2017. Viking Books for Young Readers, 80 p. ISBN: 9780451476852.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 8.9; Lexile: 1070.

Travel the near and far reaches of the solar system in this lively, beautifully illustrated Smithsonian nonfiction book!

Ready for a wondrous celestial journey? How about a trip to our close neighbor Mars, home to the largest volcano in the solar system? Or to Europa, a watery lunar world with a really deep ocean? Or beyond the beyond to mysterious Planet 9, an unseen giant lurking in the far outer regions of space?

This extraordinary book puts you right there: breaking through colorful gaseous hazes; exploring the surface of red-hot or ice-cold planets; hurtling through rings of flying, frozen ice chunks; and rocketing on out to deep space. Astronomer David Aguilar is our navigator on these seven wonderful trips through our solar system—journeys that someday may actually happen!

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

 

About the Author

David A. Aguilar  is an astronomer, artist, author of several notable books on space for children, including Cosmic Catastrophes: Seven Ways to Destroy a Planet Like Earth. He is the former Director of Science Information for the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. As a member of the New Horizons Spacecraft Team, he handled the media coverage of the Pluto fly-by. He lives with his wife outside Aspen Colorado, where he’s built his own observatory. Asteroid 1990 DA was named in his honor by the International Astronomical Union.

David and wife Shirley reside outside Aspen, CO.

His website is davidaguilar.org.

Around the Web

Seven Wonders of the Solar System on Amazon

Seven Wonders of the Solar System on Goodreads

Seven Wonders of the Solar System on JLG

Seven Wonders of the Solar System Publisher Page

Exoplanets by Karen Latchana Kenney

Exoplanets: Worlds Beyond Our Solar System by Karen Latchana Kenney. March 1, 2017. Twenty First Century Books, 88 p. ISBN: 9781512400861.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 1120.

As of March 2016, planetary scientists have discovered almost 2,000 exoplanets – planets that orbit stars other than the Sun. Readers will learn about high-powered orbiting telescopes such as NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope and the Spitzer Space Telescope; observatories such as the Geneva Observatory in Switzerland; and upcoming missions such as the 2018 launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, all of which aid scientists in their work to discover more solar systems and exoplanets. Profiles of and quotes from top planet hunters include those of Debra Fischer, Gordon Walker, and Geoffrey Marcy, among others.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Booklist (December 15, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 8))
Grades 8-11. As space exploration technology steadily advances, astronomers are discovering vast new reaches of space, and this slim, accessibly written volume sheds some light on a particularly thrilling area of research: planets far outside our solar system. After a tidy history of our ever-expanding understanding of the universe, Kenney clearly explains the many ways exoplanets are detected and some of the limitations of current tools and methods. The real star of the show, though, is the mind-­boggling number of exoplanet discoveries—more than 3,000 confirmed—and the wild variety of planets scientists have found, such an exoplanet with so little density it could float in water. The implications of these discoveries, such as habitable planets and the possibility of extraterrestrial life, will likely dazzle the imaginations of space-mad students, and a closing chapter on the future of exoplanet research, including citizen science projects accessible to anyone with a home computer, puts the science easily in reach of enterprising teens. Though the text is occasionally dry, illustrations, photos, diagrams, and the fascinating content add plenty of verve.

Kirkus Reviews (December 1, 2016)
An enticing overview of tools, techniques, and discoveries in what the author rightly characterizes “a red-hot field in astronomy.”Alas; it is perhaps too red-hot. Not only is Kenney’s count of accepted and potential exoplanets (as of May 2016) well out of date already, but her claim that “Wolf-1061” (sic: that’s actually the name of the star and its system) is the nearest Earthlike planet in the habitable “Goldilocks Zone” has been trumped by the recent discovery of a closer candidate orbiting Proxima Centauri. Still, along with describing in nontechnical terms each tool in the researcher’s kit—from space- and ground-based telescopes of various types to instruments that detect subtle stellar wobbles, spectrum changes, microlensing, and other telling signs—the author fills in the historical background of exoplanet research and profiles some of its weirder findings. She also casts side glances at extremophile life on Earth and other, at least tangentially related, topics. The small format gives the assortment of photos, artists’ renditions, diagrams, and generic star fields a cramped look, but readers curious about how researchers could possibly detect such dinky, distant objects as planets belonging to other star systems will come away satisfied and intrigued. A concise companion and update to Vicki Oransky Wittenstein’s Planet Hunter (2010). (index, source notes, bibliography, websites) (Nonfiction. 12-16)

About the Author

My favorite book as a child was an educational book titled I Want to Be a Reporter. It was about the job of a reporter and described the skills needed to tell stories in writing. I asked my mom to read it to me every night. It was fascinating to me! Since discovering that book, I have loved the idea of writing for a living.

As a K-12 educational writer and editor, I get to work on books and teaching materials that inform and inspire students. I have written about everything from the underwater home of a spider to the history of hip-hop music and WWI history. While I love researching and writing about all kinds of subjects, my experience so far has been mostly in science, social studies, biographies, music, and arts and crafts topics.

Her website is latchanakenney.wordpress.com.

Teacher Resources

Exoplanets Lesson Plans from NOVA

Around the Web

Exoplanets on Amazon

Exoplanets on Goodreads

Exoplanets on JLG

Exoplanets Publisher Page

Mission to Pluto by Mary Kay Carson

Mission to Pluto: The First Visit to an Ice Dwarf and the Kuiper Belt by Mary Kay Carson. January 10, 2017. HMH Books for Young Readers, 80 p. ISBN: 9780544416710.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 5.8; Lexile: 940.

In July of 2015 a robotic spacecraft reached Pluto after a nine-and-half-year journey. New Horizons is the first spacecraft mission to Pluto and revealed its five moons as never before seen. Images from the mission show a reddish surface covered in ice-water mountains, moving glaciers, and hints of possible ice volcanoes and an underground ocean. Pluto is geologically alive and changing!

This addition to the Scientists in the Field series goes where no person or spacecraft has ever gone before. Follow along with the team of scientists as they build New Horizons, fly it across the solar system, and make new discoveries about a world three billion miles away.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (December 1, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 7))
Grades 5-8. This thrillingly up-to-date entry in the acclaimed Scientists in the Field series traces the history and progress of the exploration of Pluto, with special attention paid to the recent and still ongoing flyby mission, New Horizons. Bolstered by excited interviews with some of the scientists and engineers involved in the New Horizons mission, Carson covers the inception of the project, the construction of the probe, the physics gymnastics involved in collecting data once it finally arrived, and some of the groundbreaking discoveries garnered from those findings. Carson’s descriptions of the concepts are crystal clear and nicely supported by the many color photographs, plenty of which are part of the trove of photos taken by the probe, and diagrams charting, among other things, the probe’s path, Pluto’s geological makeup, and the solar system far beyond the usual eight planets. This enthusiastic, accessible look at both cutting-edge scientific discovery and the dynamic work behind the scenes will be an easy sell to space-mad kids and a valuable addition to any school library.

Kirkus Reviews starred (November 15, 2016)
A team effort sends a space probe to the edge of our solar system.When New Horizons flew by Pluto and sent home data and images in 2015, it was the culmination of a 26-year campaign (and a nine-year journey) and the first-ever exploration of that far-distant ice dwarf planet. Science writer and self-described “space geek” Carson and her photographer husband introduce their comprehensive description of this collaborative mission by showing the jubilant scene at the mission operations center as the spacecraft revealed its first close-up images. Then, chapter by chapter, they explain its purpose; the makeup of the craft and the instruments it carries; the journey across the solar system to Pluto, which was demoted from planet to dwarf planet during the 9 years but turned out to have 4 more moons than previously thought; some major discoveries from this first encounter; and the continuation of the mission into the Kuiper belt of small planets. Sidebars and longer sections called “Mission Briefs” provide additional information. The author’s enthusiasm shines through her clear, conversational narrative, and she quotes from personal interviews as well as press conferences and releases, extending the book’s intimacy. Uhlman’s well-captioned photographs of the team members (mostly white and male) are nicely mixed with photos from NASA and elsewhere and occasional digital illustrations. A worthy companion to Catherine Thimmesh’s Team Moon (2006) with similar appeal. (glossary, web resources, sources, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

About the Author

Mary Kay Carson is an award-winning children’s nonfiction author. She has written more than thirty books for young people about wildlife, space, weather, nature, and history. Her recent non-fiction titles include Emi and the Rhino Scientist, about the Cincinnati Zoo’s famous rhino mom; Exploring the Solar System, recipient of the 2009 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Children’s Literature Award; The Wright Brothers for Kids; Inside Tornadoes; and the Far-Out Guide to the Solar System series. The author also gives presentations at schools and libraries about space, animals, history, and writing.

Her website is www.marykaycarson.com.

Teacher Resources

Mission to Pluto Discussion and Activity Guide

New Horizons “Plutopalooza” Toolkit — extensive resources on the Pluto mission.

Around the Web

Mission to Pluto on Amazon

Mission to Pluto on Goodreads

Mission to Pluto on JLG

Mission to Pluto Publisher Page