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If you gaze up at the night sky this weekend you might see some "shooting stars" from the annual Lyrid Meteor Shower.

Going out to look for meteor showers at night can excite an interest in space and astronomy.

It will likely raise questions,too.For example,have you ever considered that some of the stars you see while stargazing at night may have planets circling them?The new picture bookJust Right: Searching for the Goldilocks Planetby Curtis Manley and illustrated by Jessica Lanan introduces young readers to idea that planets exist outside our solar system while at the same time exploring the things that make the Earth special.

Although "Goldilocks" in the title might give you the idea that this is a work of fiction,it is actually well-researched,detailed nonfiction.Readers learn about exoplanets,telescopes,the magnetic field,and much more.

What really makes the book work is that readers are guided on their path to discovery by a young girl who is shown in most of the illustrations (see the cover).As she moves on her journey from a park through a visit to a planetarium and back home to look at the night sky,the illustrator creates a story line that children relate to and understand.This is picture book nonfiction at it finest.

Just Rightis guaranteed to thrill budding astronomers.It is also perfect for units on planets or space.Look up a copy today!

Age Range: 5 - 9 years
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (January 29,2019)
ISBN-10: 1250155339
ISBN-13: 978-1250155337

Check out ourgrowing list of children's books about planets and the solar systemat Science Books for Kids.

Disclosure: This book was provided by our local library.Also,I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products.As you probably are aware,if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product,I will receive a very small commission,at no extra cost to you.Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Come visit theSTEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science,Technology,Engineering and Math books.

We have two space science-related events next weekend,August 11-12,2018.

1.Parker Solar Probe Launch

First up,on Saturday August 11,2018 NASA is going to launch the Parker Solar Probe.The probe will travel close to the sun and gather data about it,including information about the sun's corona.Scientists are curious about the corona because temperatures measured there are hotter than at the surface of the sun and they want to know why.

Photograph of the sun's corona during a solar eclipse (NASA)

This probe is special because it has to withstand super hot temperatures.Scientists and engineers came up with a specially-designed heat shield and used water in a device like a car's radiator to keep the equipment on board from frying.

You can see more details in this video from NASA:

Hear more about it in theWhy Is The Sun's Corona Hotter Than Its Surface?podcast at Science Friday.

Related activity:

Capture the sun's energy using a solar oven (WikiHoworHomeScienceTools).

2.Perseid Meteor Shower

What is a meteor shower or "shooting star?"

Meteor showers occur when the Earth passes through a "cloud" of bits of rocks or dust left over from a passing comet or asteroid.If a particle enters the atmosphere,it creates a streak of light as it burns up.The debris cloud for the Perseid shower comes from the Comet Swift-Tuttle.The Perseids are named because they appear to originate in the constellation named Perseus.

The Perseids are the best meteor showers for viewing with children for a number of reasons.First of all,they occur in summer so temperatures at night is usually at more comfortable than for the fall or winter showers.Most children are out of school,so there are no worries about staying up on a school night.Also,the Perseids are some of the most reliable showers and last over at least two nights.This year is going to be especially good viewing because light from the moon is not going to interfere.

If you have never watched a meteor shower,it is fantastic!When the meteors are active it can be better than fireworks.Find a nice dark place to observe the sky,and if possible,spread out on a lawn chair,the ground or the back of a pick-up truck with some blankets or sleeping bags.No need for binoculars or telescope,because the meteors move too quickly to follow.

Because this is a natural event,there are no guarantees the meteors will be frequent.Prime your children to be patient or do the Constellation Detective activity (PDF link) at the same time.

Related posts:

Three astronomy activities

Want more?See our growinglist of children's books about planets and the solar system.

We've been focused on storms here on Earth lately,but there's been activity on the sun,too.On Wednesday last week (September 6,2017),the sun produced an unusually large solar flare.This flare results in an increased likelihood of auroras lighting up the night sky here on Earth.To learn more about how this works,let's look at the timely middle grade bookStories of the Aurora: The Myths and Facts of the Northern Lightsby Joan Marie Galat and illustrated by Lorna Bennett.

As the title suggests,奥罗拉的故事is a combination of science and folklore.On the folklore side are legends from Inuit,Norse,Greek,and other cultures.On the science side,readers learn about the Earth's magnetic field,how the auroras form,how they behave,and the environmental effects of auroras.

It's a surprisingly informative mix.For example,on page 18 we learn that the Sami (also called Laplanders) call the aurora "The Light You Can Hear." This might not make sense until the sidebar on page 30,when we learn people for centuries have reported hearing crackling and hissing sounds during bright auroras.In 2012 scientists were able to verify the sounds and lights were related and began to piece together how they are created.

In this video you can hear some recordings of the sounds (towards the middle of the lecture,about 1:30).

Sometimes they sound like clapping.Isn't that amazing?

Auroras making sounds is just one of the cool things readers will discover inStories of the Aurora.This award-winning title will surely light up the faces of youngsters interested in finding out more about their world.

Science of Auroras

The Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) and Aurora Australis (Southern Lights) occur when waves of charged particles traveling as solar winds from the sun strike the gases in the upper atmosphere of the earth and make the gases glow.The Northern Lights typically occur around the Arctic Circle,but large flares can cause a glow that can be seen throughout Canada and into the northern United States.Here is a photograph of an aurora taken in Wisconsin.

Photo from NASA Images

Activity Suggestions:

  1. Predicting when an aurora will occur is difficult,and at best happens only two or three days after an observed solar flare.Often scientists can only give about 30 minutes notice.Check theNOAA Aurora websiteto learn about current predictions.
  2. Visit theauthor's websitefor a list of links to cool aurora and general astronomy sites to visit.
  3. Collect images of auroras.Make a poster,lapbook,or slide presentation explaining how they form and facts about them.For example,find out why are some auroras green,some red and some a mix of colors.Share your results.NASA has afree .pdf aurora posterand lesson to get you started.
  4. Try anart projectwith colorful auroras as a backdrop to arctic animals.Oil pastels on black paper can give a lovely effect.Add some black silhouettes of trees or land forms to the bottom for contrast.

The book is the 2017 SCBWI Crystal Kite Award winner for the Canada region and 2017 Skipping Stones Honor Award winner.

Age Range: 11 - 13 years
Series: Dot to Dot in the Sky
Publisher:Whitecap Books;1 edition (September 6,2016)
ISBN-10: 1770502106
ISBN-13: 978-1770502109

Disclosure: Book was provided by the publisher for review purposes.Also,I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products.As you probably are aware,if you click through the highlighted title or cover links and purchase a product,I will receive a very small commission,at no extra cost to you.Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Looking for more children's nonfiction books?Try theNonfiction Monday blog.