Monday, February 18, 2008
NonFiction Monday: Planets, Stars, and Galaxies
Planets, Stars, and Galaxies: a visual encyclopedia of our Universe by David A. Aguilar, National Geographic, 2007
David Aguilar describes the planets of our solar system as well as dark matter, neutron stars, nebula, and many other phenomena of space in this book.
What makes this book different from others on the subject, are the glowing illustrations that Aguilar created from NASA and telescope photographs . The photos are enhanced and photoshopped to offer a "you are there" presence to the reader. What would it feel like to be in the middle of the Kuiper Belt? Well, pages 62 and 63 give us an idea. Imaginative space ships tour planets and space suited explorers stand on the surface of one of Jupiter's moons.
Aguilar fills the text with factual information. He explains how a star burns in a graphic that depicts the collision of two protons and the release of energy that is starlight. The location of supernova, nebula and other objects are marked in constellation maps when they are visible through binoculars.
The author has projected reader into the galaxy, traveling exploring and experiencing the wonders of the universe. We live in a time when the Space Shuttle program seems routine and low Earth orbit is the best we can do. The book could fire the imagination of kids who have seen the spectacular images of the space telescopes and now think, "been there-done that." Chapters, "Are we Alone?" and "Dreams of Tomorrow" ponder what is "alien life" and ideas for the future of space engineering.
If you believe the program How William Shatner changed the world, (and I do) my generation was inspired to "make it so" by Star Trek. This book fires the imagination and could also inspire a young person today to look skyward.