04/23/01
Astronomy Week
    by John Cech

Have you seen what's been going on in the sky lately? Well, it's actually been happening for probably tens of millions of years, but we've only been able to see it for the past few centuries, and, really, since 1990 when the Hubble Space Telescope was launched , and then when it was fitted in 1993 with a set of corrective lenses, in one of the most remarkable optimetrist's appointments of all time.

The results are a slough of new books about space, that are just in time for today's beginning of Astronomy Week.

For younger children, there's Geraldine McCaughrean's Starry Tales, from Margaret K. McElderry Books, which collects folk tales and myths about the stars and constellations from around the world -- it's sure to spark curiousity and wonder, and prepare your young observer for the move into scientific books about astronomy. There are several sets of these, but one of the best, is the Planet Library 10-book series by Robin Kerrod, from Lerner Publications, that includes volumes on The Solar System and Asteroids, Comets, and Meteors. Each of these well-illustrated, thoughtful volumes provides basic scientific information, along with snappy graphics and full-color glimpses of the cosmos from Hubble and other telescope pictures.

Once your starry travellers are ready for the jump to hyper-space, you might look up Gabriel Vanin's A Photographic Tour of the Universe, from Firefly Books, which carefully documents many of the stunning images that we have gotten thus far from the current generation of telescopes, including the famous Eagle Nebula, those three pillars of space dust, 7,000 light year away, where stars are even now being born.

And for that ultimate view of the cosmos, you should seek out David Malin's The Invisible Universe, from Bullfinch Press, with its large format, its blend of astronomical history and its sublime extra-terrestrial images, which are, fittingly presented as works of art. We use words like "amazing" all the time these days, but you'll probably experience something else with your children when you look at these photos -- you'll all find yourselves speechless.

Copyright 2001 by John Cech

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Wednesday, 04-Sep-2002 22:24:00 EDT


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