The Klutz Guide to the Galaxy by Pat Murphy and the Scientists of Klutz Labs. Klutz (February 2011); ISBN 9781591749202; 67 pages
Book Source: Review copy provided by publisher
Before you start exploring, you need to know where you are. Next time your parental unit asks you where you've been, you can say (with all honesty):" Hanging out at the edge of the Orion Arm of the Milky Way Galaxy."
The galaxy is a pretty cool place, but even though it is all around us at all times, we don't often think about it. In fact, every year we go on an amazing journey. Did you know that the Earth travels 600 million miles around the sun each year? That's just one of the many facts found in The Klutz Guide to the Galaxy.
Like many of the other Klutz products, The Klutz Guide to the Galaxy is a hands-on, how-to book that entertains and teaches at the same time. It's chock full of facts about the galaxy and even includes a few handy supplies like a red light, sundial kit, telescope kit, star maps, and a mariner's quadrant template. The spiral-bound book is divided into six tabbed sections: an introduction, main sections on the sun, moon, planets and stars, and a discovery section in the back that includes a fill-in "Galactic Passport" where kids can keep track of observations. The book doesn't delve too deeply into any of the topics but provides a nice interactive overview of the galaxy, specifically of our Solar System. The book is well-organized in magazine style snippets of information and every single page is brightly illustrated. Klutz offers corresponding online content at http://www.klutz.com/galaxy. Even though the book is recommended for ages 8 and up, there are plenty of things in the book that younger kids will enjoy as well with the help of a parent.
Fun activities found in this book:
Determine a star's altitude
Test Your Night Vision
Find the time of Solar Noon
Make a Sundial
Make a Telescope
Use a Star Map
Use a Mariner's Quadrant
Use a "Lunatic Wheel" to figure out where to see the Moon
Find out your age on other planets
There are so many topics covered in this book that we haven't had the time to read and do all the activities together. However, during a nice sunny day, we spent some time determining our true north, solar noon time and making the sundial. Solar noon is not necessarily the same time as the noon on your clock, but it is the time when the sun is at the highest point in the sky each day. The kids thought it was really neat we could tell time using a shadow on a dial. We also took a look at our shadows during different times of the day and observed that when the sun is high in the sky our shadows are shorter.
Other parts of the book my kids enjoyed are the age calculator (my kids thought it is hilarious that they would only be 10-1/4 weeks [daughter's adjusted age] and 5 weeks old [son's adjusted age] if they lived on Saturn). The seasonal star maps present basic information without overwhelming kids. My daughter learned about constellations at school so the star maps are interesting for her to view. I can't wait to view the night sky together on a clear evening sometime and try out that telescope.
Overall, The Klutz Guide to the Galaxy is a wonderful and informative activity book perfect for the backyard astronomer, and it would also make a great gift because it includes several bonuses like the sundial and telescope kits.
Klutz has kindly offered to giveaway a copy of The Klutz Guide to the Galaxy to two (2) Brimful Curiosities readers. 2 Winners!
Can you tell time from a shadow? To enter this contest, leave a comment with your guess as to the time of day I took the above photo of my son. (i.e. 5:25 a.m.)
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