Friday, October 04, 2013

Celebrate World Space Week

Happy World Space Week!  In 1999, the United Nations General Assembly declared that World Space Week would be an annual event celebrated from October 4-10.  There have been a lot of changes, space-related, since 1999: Pluto was officially demoted to dwarf planet status; we've landed rovers on Mars; and orbited Saturn and Mercury for the first time.  There's lots more to accomplish, including further discoveries by the Curiosity Rover on Mars and the first ever spacecraft to Pluto in 2015. What better time to learn more about our amazing universe than now?

Pluto's demotion put every astronomy book out of date; with its classification changing several times in the late 2000s, it was tricky to know which books were out of date. Luckily, you can count on National Geographic Kids and David A. Aguilar's 13 Planets: The Latest View of Our Solar System.  Information on the formation of the solar system, the sun, and the 11 major planets and dwarf planets is included.  The layout is quite impressive; succinct text and bold photographs and illustrations (with clear captions) are expertly balanced.

Before there was Curiosity, there were Spirit and Opportunity.  These two little robots were launched into space to potentially discover water on Mars (not incidentally, Curiosity has recently discovered just that!). The Mighty Mars Rovers: The Incredible Adventures of Spirit and Opportunity tells us all about the importance of Mars exploration, how Spirit and Opportunity were created (and named), how the rovers are manipulated, what they've discovered, and the hard-working team behind these extraordinary robots.   This is a meaty volume with tons of labeled photographs; young and old space fanatics will devour this.

The National Audubon Society's First Field Guide series are perfect for throwing in a backpack or purse before heading out to explore nature.  The Society's First Field Guide to the Night Sky is a compact guide (with images in color) to observing stars, solar eclipses (with safety instructions),planets, comets, and seasonal notes for planets, among many other pockets of information.

DK's Space: A Visual Encyclopedia is stuffed with fascinating information and images on all things space-related.  Organized into sections devoted to explaining space observation, rockets and satellites, history of space exploration, planets/comets/meteors, Earth, Moon, Sun, and stars/stargazing, this is designed to capture the interest of casual and fanatic space enthusiasts.

While much of the glory bestowed upon the Apollo 11 mission goes to the astronauts, the scientists that made the mission possible are usually all but forgotten.  Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon seeks to correct this inconsistency. Starting with President Kennedy's declaration of intent to have American astronauts land and safely return from the moon by the end of 1969, Catherine Thimmesh brilliantly brings the struggles and triumphs experienced by the NASA staff in the mission to satisfy this goal.  First hand accounts and intriguing artifacts from NASA's archives make this historical account ideal for independent readers and adults alike.

Isn't space exciting?  You can find more information in our J 520 section (solar system) and J 629.4 (space exploration) sections.

Next week, I'll blog about Fire Prevention Week!

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library 

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