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

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Overview

Winner of:
NSTA-CBC Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12 for 2014 list

Humans have gazed into the night sky for thousands of years and wondered, What are those twinkling lights? Though the sun, moon, and planets moved across the background of stars, the stars themselves appeared immovable, forever fixed in constellations. Only when astronomers began taking a closer look did anyone realize what a fascinating, ever-changing universe ...

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

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Overview

Winner of:
NSTA-CBC Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12 for 2014 list

Humans have gazed into the night sky for thousands of years and wondered, What are those twinkling lights? Though the sun, moon, and planets moved across the background of stars, the stars themselves appeared immovable, forever fixed in constellations. Only when astronomers began taking a closer look did anyone realize what a fascinating, ever-changing universe lies beyond our solar system—red giant and white dwarf stars, spiral galaxies, wispy nebulae, black holes, and much more.

In Beyond the Solar System, author Mary Kay Carson traces the evolution of humankind’s astronomical knowledge, from the realization that we are not at the center of the universe to recent telescopic proof of planets orbiting stars outside our solar system. In addition to its engaging history, this book contains 21 hands-on projects to further explore the subjects discussed. Readers will build a three-dimensional representation of the constellation Orion, model the warping of space-time caused by a black hole, see how the universe expands using an inflating balloon, and construct a reflecting telescope out of a makeup mirror and a magnifying glass. Beyond the Solar System also includes minibiographies of famous astronomers, a time line of major scientific discoveries, a suggested reading list, a glossary of technical terms, and a list of websites for further exploration.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Carson follows 2008’s Exploring the Solar System with an in-depth study of humankind’s history with the stars above, from prehistory to the present. The book covers early studies of the heavens, the development of telescopes and other tools, changing schools of thought on the universe and how it works, and contemporary efforts to discover what lies beyond our solar system. Vocabulary terms appear in bold, and sidebars offer brief biographies of figures including Kepler, Newton, and Einstein; color photographs of galaxies and nebulas appear throughout, many from the Hubble Space Telescope. A comprehensive combination of astronomical history and science, with activities that should encourage curiosity and involvement. Ages 9–up. (June)
From the Publisher

"A highly readable text . . . teachers may find these 21 activities especially helpful, but handy readers can follow these clear directions on their own. This is a useful path for budding space scientists."  —Kirkus Reviews

"A fast-paced, but worthwhile, tour of the history of astronomy. Carson shows unusual finesse in communicating the methods and significance of scientific breakthroughs . . . Notable for its unusually clear explanations of complex topics, this volume is a worthy companion to Exploring the Solar System."  —Booklist

“A comprehensive combination of astronomical history and science, with activities that should encourage curiosity and involvement.”  —Publishers Weekly

"This volume is a great reference tool for astronomy lovers. The combination of history with hands–on activities is a novel approach that would certainly entertain and engage middle school students and beyond. The photos on the glossy pages are eye-catching and the diagrams come with great explanations . . . this volume would make a great resource for a school library or the library of a budding astronomer."  —National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Recommends

"This inviting and informative comprehensive survey will be useful for homework assignments and may send young scientists to further studies of astronomy."  —School Library Journal

"The activities are perfect 'boredom busters' for cold winter days."  —Washington Post

"The book stands out from other introductions to the field because of the activities, all of which use simple and easy-to-find materials."  —Science Magazine

"I would recommend this book to all children who have a passion for learning, not just about the night sky, but all aspects of our scientific history. The many illustrations and activities only enhance the reader's understanding of the subject matter and enable him or her to be challenged to learn more, and hopefully one day to join the ranks of the great people documented in the book."  —National Space Society

School Library Journal
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
Kirkus Reviews
Science writer Carson goes beyond the planets she described in Exploring the Solar System (2006) to survey the history of stargazing from antiquity to near–present day. Organized chronologically and moving rapidly to the 20th century, her history stresses key scientists and their discoveries. She includes the usual suspects, such as Ptolemy, Galileo, Newton, Einstein and Hubble, as well as a number of lesser-known astronomers and astrophysicists, including some women and some working today. From early proofs that planets circled the sun to the discovery of quasars, pulsars, black holes and far-distant planets, this demonstration of the growth of human awareness about the universe concludes with the reminder that what we do know is far, far outweighed by what we don't. A highly readable text is supplemented with diagrams, photographs and black-and-white illustrations, as well as biographical text boxes. Each chapter also includes step-by-step instructions for three or four hands-on activities that can support learning. From suggestions for observing the night sky or building a telescope to demonstrations of the expanding universe and the warping of the space-time fabric, teachers may find these 21 activities especially helpful, but handy readers can follow these clear directions on their own. Escaping our solar system is not easy, as Voyager has shown, but this is a useful path for budding space scientists. (glossary, resources, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781613745441
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/1/2013
  • Series: For Kids Series
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 267,822
  • Age range: 9 years
  • Lexile: 980L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.30 (w) x 10.90 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary Kay Carson has written more than 30 nonfiction books for children, including The Bat Scientists, Exploring the Solar System, and The Wright Brothers for Kids.

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Table of Contents

Note to Readers

Time Line

1: Pre-History–1600: Stargazers to Scientists

            Find Polaris

            Ptolemy on a Plate

            Make an Astrolabe

            Get Ready to Star Watch

2: 1600s: Telescopes and Gravity

            The Power of Lenses

            Make a Reflecting Telescope

            Split White Light

3: 1700s–1800s: Unveiling the Stars

            Make a 3D Starscape

            Milky Way on Edge

            Handy Sky Distances

4: 1915–1940: Space-Time Tricks, Island Universes, and the Biggest Bang

            Warp Some T-Shirt Space-Time

            A Toy with No Equal

            Sweet Twisted Space-Time

            Expand a Balloon-iverse

5: 1930s–1970s: Discovering the Invisible: Quasars, Pulsars, and Black Holes

            Track Down Interference

            Make a Radio Picture

            Make a Pulsar

            Make a Black Hole

6: 1980s–2010s: Frothy Galaxies, Alien Planets, and Dark Energy

            Soap Up Some Galaxy Clusters

            Our Galactic Group in 3D

            Track Down Exoplanets

Glossary

Resources

Index

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 3, 2013

    I know I probably get a little over zealous when it comes to non

    I know I probably get a little over zealous when it comes to non-fiction books, but I really can't help it. Beyond the Solar System was just so fascinating! I took my kids to NASA and that also helped with my (and their) interest in the subject of the universe.

    The book starts off with the earliest explorations into the stars and continues on through the years until it reaches the present day. So it is written like a history book. An AMAZING history book. I had no idea how interesting the stars could be until I read this!

    This book is written well, so it kept me interested the whole way through. There are activities that kids (or adults) can do to enrich the experience. The activities were fun, but I couldn't do all of them because I didn't have access to some of the items needed in order to complete them. Even so, this is a really informative book that every library, school, and budding astronomer should have.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2014

    Adfghj

    &king

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