A few weeks ago, I picked up a new space book from the book bin of a large discount store.
“Discover More (about the) Planets” was a real find. The book was published last year by Scholastic, Inc., specializing in media for school age students; its ISBN is 978-0-545-33028-2. The authors are Penelope Arlon and Tory Gordon-Harris.
The first thing I noticed was an introduction on how to use this book; in each section, there are icons of what is visible to the eye, where to find more information on subsequent pages of the book, and data in boxes that are particularly interesting.
The table of contents has many entries, allowing a reader to quickly find a topic of most interest. The glossary towards the end of the book is not too detailed but essential for beginners. The book ends with an easy to use index.
“Discover More Planets” is only 80 pages in length, a good length for an introduction to our solar system. This book’s cost is $12.99.
The first section starts with a definition of a planet as being a round object that moves about a star, reflecting light from that star.
Planets are divided four ways: rocky planets, gas giants, dwarf planets and planets beyond our sun (often called extra solar planets). But we can’t forget about moons that orbit planets; some moons are bigger than the smallest planet Mercury.
The next section explains our place in the universe with beautiful graphics, going from home to our galaxy. The solar system is next defined as the kingdom of our sun, showing the relative sizes of all the regular planets.
Of these eight planets, six are named after Roman gods or goddesses. The two exceptions are: Earth from the Anglo-Saxon word “Erda” for soil and Uranus named for the Greek god of the heavens.
A brief history of Space exploration notes that the German V-2 rocket was the first man made object to rise above our atmosphere and that Dennis Titov was the first space tourist in 2001. (His ticket price was $20 million!).
The sun gets special notice, being the largest member of the solar system; but among the stars, our sun is only a middle sized star. Mercury gets baked by the sun during the day (800 F) but deep frozen during its long night (-300 F). Venus has the hottest surface (900 F), owing to its compressed atmosphere of carbon dioxide.
The Earth has been called “the Goldilocks” planet, for its just right temperature, atmosphere and surface gravity. These great conditions allow life to have developed in its many forms.
Our constant companion is the moon, that shows only one side to Earth. The changing shapes of the moon (dark moon, crescent, half full, gibbous and full) are explained. There is a nice map of the full moon, showing the main craters and lunar lava fields.
We can’t forget that the moon is the only world that humans have reached. In addition, we have put many thousands of artificial satellites (Mini-Moons) in Earth orbit. About 3,000 satellites are working and 20,000 others, sad to say are useless pieces of space junk. Our best known unmanned satellite is the Hubble Space Telescope, still working after being in orbit since 1990.
Mars is given a nice treatment; its rusty color is from iron oxides in its soil. Mars is half as wide as the Earth but has some features (such as volcanoes, canyon valleys) that dwarf those on Earth. Most asteroids or minor planets stay in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter but some asteroids can be thrown out of their usual orbits and head towards the Earth.
Our last asteroid encounter was on Feb. 15 of this year when a house-sized asteroid exploded high over a Russian city; its shock waves shattered thousands of windows.
Other sections cover the giant planets, the objects beyond Neptune (includes the dwarf planet Pluto), the different types of stars, galaxies, planets about other stars, the Big Dipper, the biggest space rockets (now Europe’s Ariane 5), the International Space Station and our future in Space.
This book is recommended for school libraries and the children’s sections of regular libraries.
SKY SIGHTS AHEAD: The planet Mercury is nearly at its greatest angle to the west of the sun at dawn. If you rise about 5:30 p.m., you have a chance to see the bright planet Jupiter, the planet Mars (below Jupiter) and Mercury (lowest of the three planets) low in the east.
In the evening sky, there are two planets seen in the early evening. Brilliant Venus is low in the west in the twilight (try 9:15 p.m.). As it gets darker, look to the left of Venus to see Spica (brightest star of Virgo) and yet farther to the left to spot Saturn, shining steadily.
Bob Doyle invites any readers comments and questions. E-mail him at email@example.com . He is available as a speaker on his column topics.
A few weeks ago, I picked up a new space book from the book bin of a large discount store.
Yates fires 804
Derek Yates led all scoring for the week ending March 28 with an 804 series featuring a 290 game at Rainbow Lanes.
Bobby Benton actually came in second and third for the week with a 748 on the House pattern at White Oaks and 742 on the USBC Open pattern in the Sport league. Steve Ravenscroft had a nice 740 at Rainbow and Darren Durbin and Teddy Inman rounded out the scoring with 737s apiece at White Oaks.
The huge woods fire in nearby Pennsylvania shows just how much devastation can take place when a blaze breaks out during early spring. In this case, 900 acres of forest — much of it public game land — became engulfed in flames.
There are an estimated 47,000 deceased veterans whose remains are unidentified and unclaimed throughout the U.S. A group of senators and congressmen hope to do something to
bring these men and women some dignity after death.
For the world’s more than 2 billion Christians, Easter is the day that defines their faith.
The exact date of Christ’s resurrection is unknown, and even the precise locations of his crucifixion and burial are uncertain. This hasn’t stopped some people from saying they know the answer to these questions and others from trying to find out for themselves, or simply arguing about it.
Odds are good that you didn’t know this
Odds or Probabilities fascinate many people. There is a special website called www.BookOfOdds.com and an accompanying location on Facebook at /BookofOdds .This website lists 400,000 odds. Three of the people who are involved in this media display have coauthored a book, “The Book of Odds” that presents some of key odds, drawing from polls and statistics published in journals. The authors are A. Shapiro, L.F. Campbell and R. Wright. This paperback was published this year by Harper Collins with ISBN 978-0-06-206085-3.
Trivial questions you don’t have to answer
Every so often in this life, my mind, all on its own, generates questions that have no real answers. So I have decided to pass them on to you. I’m tired of them. If you come up with any answers, let me know. Remember when TV jealously guarded the time zone before 9 p.m. for wholesome shows that children could watch. My gosh, how many years ago was that? It seems like another world nowadays, when you can see murders, torture and rape, or those implied, every hour on the hour, somewhere on your public screen. It might be comforting then, to remember that most children nowadays are glued to their little machines with whole different worlds on them, that they can access all day long. Except that in these different worlds they also can view murders, torture and rape on demand.
Think it’s not a small world? You’re wrong
Yes, you read that right in the paper a couple of weeks ago. I covered a wedding as a newspaper reporter. I’ve retired from doing regular stories because my primary duties lie elsewhere, and I don’t have the time or mental energy for it. But I agreed to do it for a couple of reasons, one of which goes back more than 40 years. The former proprietor of The Famous North End Tavern told me about a wedding that was to take place at the Lions Center for Rehabilitation and Extended Care, where his wife works.
No Bambi for you, Mrs. Doe
Some people want so badly for deer birth control to work that they actually think it will, even on wild populations.
I wish I had a couple bridges to sell.
A week ago on the Outdoors page we ran the deer there do what deer everywhere do. They eat the easiest food available such as gardens and ornamental plantings. They walk in front of moving cars. They give ticks and parasites a place to live.
We’re certain that Donald Rumsfeld, who served as Secretary of Defense under Presidents Gerald Ford and George W. Bush, echoes what many Americans feel about the complexity of filing income tax returns.
When he filed his return, Rumsfeld sent the following letter to the Internal Revenue Service:
Public libraries remain one of the best uses of taxpayer dollars. They are open to all. Young or old, poor or wealthy, residents can use computers and read current magazines and newspapers. Compact discs featuring a wide variety of music and
movies on DVD may be checked out in addition to novels and other books.
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