You only have to look up to see the incredible wonders of the sky…the moon, the sun, the stars, sometimes a planet. The sky is its own world of magic. Sky Gazing is all about getting children to step outside and observe the wonders of the sky. This read doesn’t just tell children about the sky, it provides activities and suggestions to get them to actively engage with the sky.
Sky Gazing is beautifully presented and makes some quite complex subjects accessible to younger readers. Even as an adult I found myself learning plenty and I came away feeling that I had a better understanding of the sky than I did before. What I really like is that it doesn’t just focus on the night sky and it looks at both the Northern and Southern hemispheres.
Told over five chapters; the sky, the moon, the sun, the planets, the stars and constellations are all explored in detail. Each chapter features detailed, annotated and labelled diagram, explanations and key information, and practical activities for children to try. A delightful little star-shaped character called Star Dude regularly pops up to add key facts and snippets of information.
My favourite parts are the ‘Astronomy Notebook’ and the ‘Try It’. The 'Astronomy Notebook' provides activities and guides on things children can do to become more familiar with the sky. Children are encouraged to start a Sky Journal and then record all manner of observations. They can be a weather watcher, make a moon diary, keep tabs on the sun, design a solar system and star constellations.
‘Try It’ provides fabulous activities that children can do to help them further their understanding of the sky. There are instructions for making a cosmic protractor to measure distances, a red flashlight to protect their night vision, a star wheel, a scale model of the solar system and a pinhole projector. Children can then dance the footsteps of the moon, recreate a human solar system (if you can find enough people to take part) and practice navigating using the stars.
In each chapter a comic strip provides a simplified explanation that details the birth/creation of a particular feature of the sky. There is a ‘Special Event’ that will surely fill children with excitement and pique curiosity. The 'Special Events' include the aurora borealis (northern lights), a lunar eclipse, a solar eclipse, a great comet and a meteor shower. At the end of each chapter there is a ‘Look Closer’ feature which is all about using binoculars to get closer to the sky. There are practical tips for using binoculars and what to observe.
At the back of the book there is a detailed glossary and plenty of extra resources. Readers will find a Meteor Shower Calendar, dates of future eclipses, further information on using binoculars and what to spot with them and there is an extensive list of additional resources to learn about the sky including books, podcasts, magazines, websites and apps.
Sky Gazing is fun on a galactic scale, it really is a super-star of a book. A sun-sational read for any child who wonders about the sky. Whether children want to understand the complexities of the sky or just want some fun activities to do, this book will appeal to a wide range of readers and is essential reading for any budding astronomers.
Recommended for 8+.
With thanks to Netgalley and Storey Publishing for the advanced reader copy.