This text introduces readers to the most current information available about the universe. Information is presented in a clear and easy-to-understand manner. The author writes in a conversational tone and begins with an introduction to the universe that includes how it began and how we know what we know. Readers are then taken on a virtual tour of the solar system and presented with information about the newly designated 11 planets and their varying categories. Fact boxes are provided for each of the planets with such information as the planet’s mass, density, length of day and length of year (measured in Earth days), average surface temperature, and more. Comets, the Kuiper Belt, and asteroids are also discussed. This is followed by information on the stars and galaxies. The final two chapters address whether we are alone in the universe and where science and research might take us in the future. The book features bright, eye-catching illustrations that author Aguilar created on his computer. In addition, there are many vibrant photographs in the book that were taken by cameras here on Earth as well as by satellites and telescopes. The layout features colorful, well-annotated images on every page spread. The images nicely supplement the text and help to relay concepts. In one of the chapters, images with a binocular symbol indicate objects that can be seen in the night sky with binoculars. The book concludes with four different time lines; “Time Line of the Solar System,” “Time Line of Humans on Earth,” “Time Line of Astronomy to 1961,” and “Time Line of Astronomy 1963 to the Present,” which covers through 2020, when spacecraft in the Constellation program are scheduled to return human explorers to the moon. Also included are a glossary, an index, and a list of additional reading and Web sites. With appeal for students doing research, as well as the lay reader, this colorful resource is recommended for upper-elementary, middle-school, high-school, and public libraries. Grades 5-12. --Maren Ostergard
About the Author
David A. Aguilar is the Director of Science Information at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Previously, he was the Director of the Fiske Planetarium and Science Center at the University of Colorado. An expert in astronomy and a talented artist, his work reflects his passion for bringing the wonders of space to wider audiences. In this, his first book for National Geographic, he presents the latest discoveries in space to young imaginations in an engaging and scientifically accurate way. David Aguilar lives in Boston, Massachusetts.