Monday, February 18, 2008

NonFiction Monday: Planets, Stars, and Galaxies

Planets, Stars, and Galaxies: A Visual Encyclopedia of Our Universe
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.


Elaine Magliaro said...


For what age levels would you recommend this book? I have a grandnephew who is fascinated by space. I buy him all the new books I think he'll like that I can find on the subject.

Camille said...

This book is so readable...I have a review copy that I am going to donate to either my local elementary library or junior high school. I think it is a book that I would feel comfortable placing in an elementary for 4-5th graders, jr. high or even a high school library.

An example of the text:

"A star is born inside an enormous cloud of hydrogen gas called a nebula. As clumps in a nebula attract more gas, they grow larger and hotter until they ignite and become stars. "

Nicely sized font, sort of a spectacular Eyewitness book.

Elaine Magliaro said...

Thanks for the information.

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