In commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Galileo Galilei’s first use of a telescope, this year has been declared the International Year of Astronomy. Resources for parents and teachers about IYA2009 can be found here. People around the world are participating in a number of ways, so let’s join in the fun:
See a Comet!
Next week around February 24th is the easiest time to view Comet Lulin, visible with binoculars if conditions permit. For more details and to download a printable comet finder chart, visit this Sky and Telescope page.
Go to a Star Party!
One of the worldwide events is 100 Hours of Astronomy, which is scheduled to take place from April 2-5 2009. To find events in your area or to add your star party, check the 100HA blog (click on Find Events.)
Browse Fantastic Images!
From Earth to the Universe has an image gallery of the Solar System, stars, nebulae, the galaxies and beyond. Look under For Visitors, then Tour the Images. The page of thumbnails takes a while to load, but it’s worth it. Click on EN (English), FR (French) or SP (Spanish) to see a larger view with caption.
Explore NASA’s Resources!
Here are links such as Sun-Earth Day vodcasts to celebrate the Spring Equinox; “Are We Alone?” podcasts; a MicroObservatory with robotic telescopes that you can control; and much more.
And... Read a Book!
Galileo’s Journal 1609–1610
Ages 8-12, 32 pages, 2006
This fictional journal gives a glimpse into the real life of Galileo, who worked diligently to improve the telescope and realized the Earth must revolve around the Sun.
The Galileo Project is a comprehensive online guide to his life and work.
Maria Mitchell: The Soul of an Astronomer
by Beatrice Gormley
Ages 9-12, 166 pages, 2004
A biography of America's first woman astronomer, who was born in 1818 on Nantucket, discovered a comet, and became a professor at Vassar.
Boy, Were We Wrong About the Solar System
by Kathleen V. Kudlinski, illustrated by John Rocco
Ages 6-9, 32 pages, 2008
A humorous look at past mistaken ideas about the solar system and how they were disproven by advances in science and technology.
The Kids Book of the Night Sky
by Ann Love and Jane Drake, illustrated by Heather Collins
Ages 9-12, 144 pages, 2004
A compendium of facts, myths, legends, jokes, and activities throughout the year for young sky watchers.
A Child's Introduction to the Night Sky: The Story of the Stars, Planets, and Constellations - and How You Can Find Them in the Sky
by Michael Driscoll, illustrated by Meredith Hamilton
ages 9 and up, 96 pages, 2004
A tour of the universe with constellations, sky maps, and authentic space photos plus a running glossary, star wheel guide and stickers.
There Once Was a Sky Full of Stars
by Bob Crelin, illustrated by Amie Ziner
Ages 8-12, 34 pages, 2007
Aims to help readers learn about the wonders of the night sky as well as the problem of light pollution.
The International Dark-Sky Association, which seeks to preserve and protect the nighttime environment, has a page with links for students and teachers.
And finally, if you haven’t seen my space-related books please check out Messages from Mars and Postcards From Pluto (revised in 2006.)