Science writer Carson goes beyond the planets she described in Exploring the Solar System (2006) to survey the history of stargazing from antiquity to near–present day.
Organized chronologically and moving rapidly to the 20th century, her history stresses key scientists and their discoveries. She includes the usual suspects, such as Ptolemy, Galileo, Newton, Einstein and Hubble, as well as a number of lesser-known astronomers and astrophysicists, including some women and some working today. From early proofs that planets circled the sun to the discovery of quasars, pulsars, black holes and far-distant planets, this demonstration of the growth of human awareness about the universe concludes with the reminder that what we do know is far, far outweighed by what we don’t. A highly readable text is supplemented with diagrams, photographs and black-and-white illustrations, as well as biographical text boxes. Each chapter also includes step-by-step instructions for three or four hands-on activities that can support learning. From suggestions for observing the night sky or building a telescope to demonstrations of the expanding universe and the warping of the space-time fabric, teachers may find these 21 activities especially helpful, but handy readers can follow these clear directions on their own.
Escaping our solar system is not easy, as Voyager has shown, but this is a useful path for budding space scientists. (glossary, resources, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)