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13 Planets: The Latest View of the Solar System (National Geographic Kids) Hardcover – March 8, 2011

4.6 out of 5 stars 86 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

David Aguilar, author of "Planets, Stars, and Galaxies," 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. He is an accomplished astronomy illustrator and an experienced educator with an enormous enthusiasm for bringing science to children. David Aguilar lives in Boston, MA. --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Once upon a time, long ago and far away, there were precisely seven planets: Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, all apparently revolving around a solidly fixed Earth. And then about five centuries ago came Nicholas Copernicus, who invented the solar system. He said the Sun was really in the middle surrounded by six planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth (with Moon), Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. It was truly the Sun’s system, with Earth now a spinning planet. It was all very simple and elegant.
 
Three centuries after Copernicus, things were no longer so simple. In 1781 another big planet, Uranus, was found, and then a lot of small ones were given names like Ceres, Astraea, Flora, Hygeia, and Kalliope. In 1846, still another big planet, Neptune, gained planetary status. By 1854 there were 41 planets, and astronomers cried “Enough!” So they all decided there were eight large planets, and the little guys weren’t really planets but minor planets.
 
Today astronomers know that the solar system is much more complex and interesting than anyone dreamed of in the 1850s. There are more than 130 natural satellites, and more are being discovered. One, Saturn’s Titan, is bigger than the planet Mercury. If Titan and our moon had independent orbits, they would qualify as planets. Astronomers now have orbits for nearly 500,000 minor planets, half of which have been assigned numbers, and about 15,000 of which have been given names. Almost all of them are irregularly-shaped rocks, but at least one, Ceres, is massive enough for its gravity to pull it into a sphere, so it is a dwarf planet. And there are the comets, hoards of them in the deep freeze beyond Neptune.
 
Occasionally some of these huge chunks of dirty ice get nudged into the inner parts of the solar system, where they thaw out and sprout long, beautiful tails. And a few of these ice balls are massive enough to pull themselves into spherical dwarf planets. Pluto is one of these, smaller than our moon. Makemake and Haumea are still smaller, while Eris is a little larger than Pluto. Three of these even have their own satellites. Undoubtedly more of these icy dwarf planets await discovery.
 
For now, there are eight classical planets and five dwarf planets, making thirteen!
 
--Dr. Owen Gingerich, Former Research Professor of Astronomy, Harvard and Astronomer Emeritus, Smithsonian Astronomical Observatory
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 1120L (What's this?)
  • Series: National Geographic Kids
  • Hardcover: 64 pages
  • Publisher: National Geographic Children's Books (March 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1426307705
  • ISBN-13: 978-1426307706
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 0.4 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #90,603 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
My eight-year old loves this book. He is in second grade and just beginning to study the solar system. He's gobbling up the facts in this book about the eight classic planets and the five dwarf planets. It's just as interesting for mom, too. What I really like is the inclusion of the name origin for each planet. My son is getting science and mythology lessons with this book. We are both awed by the photorealistic computer art. This is definitely a must have for the classroom or home library as it has the most up-to-date information on our solar system. - Biblio Reads Children's Book Review
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Format: Hardcover
We bought this book for our 4 year old after he showed an interest in planets. It's a good first book for space. His attention span is still a little tightly wound, but we can see that it will definitely be a book he will enjoy in the coming year! It's full of great pictures, background stories on the planets and interesting facts & figures that updated our dated knowledge of the solar system. Waiting for the opportunity to use what we've learned in conversation :D
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My son is VERY interested in the solar system. His biggest complaint is that many of the books about this topic are out of date. He was THRILLED to see a current book that talks about all of the dwarf planets too. This is a great book!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It gives the best summary I've seen on the latest thinking re: definition and identification of planets. Who knew there were 13 now? Pluto is back in but as a dwarf planet and it has some new dwarf planet friends. My 5 1/2 grandson knew most of the rest of the planetary/solar system information as apparently it is pretty basic but beautifully illustrated. Also includes mythology and historical asides which he did not know, but which actually bring an interesting interdisciplinary element into the study. If your child is really serious about planets and stars, and older than about 7 this may be too basic, but would probably be fine for all others. Is a typically beautifully illustrated National Geographic product and fortunately we enjoy reading it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
We got this book for our now 5 year old. It's a bit advanced for a 5 year old, but he loves to learn about planets. He enjoys this book very much. Recently, when reading a different book about Pluto, he noticed that the other book stated a fact inconsistent with this book. He immediately pointed it out, which showed that even as a 5 year old, he's retaining information from this book. (The fact wasn't that Pluto is now a dwarf planet. The other book was more recent than that).
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am very pleased with this book. There are great illustration and the information is given in a way that young children can understand it very well. I am using this book for my children's homeschooling and their age range from 9 years old to 2 years old. They all love the illustrations and stay mesmerized on the appearance of the planets. I could not be happier with this purchase.
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Format: Hardcover
Ice, rocks, gas, dwarfs and belts are what kids will learn about when they peek inside 13 Planets to see what Aguilar has in store for them. Did you ever wonder if the dust on top of your dresser is from a meteor? Readers will learn about all of the planets in the solar system that surrounds earth. Greek and Roman symbols and their names will be revealed along with an explanation of how the planets got their names and who discovered them.

Fantastic photography creates an awe inspiring adventure towards learning which will allow a child's imagination to soar. Parents and teachers will explore other solar systems as well. In the back of the book is a detailed glossary explaining all of the terms that readers will absorb as they flip through the galaxy one page at a time. And if this book isn't enough and readers want more once the last page is turned there is a list of other sites on the web for more learning, growing and exploring.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a correction of information for "bayliss", who thought that some information in the book (about the length of a day on Mercury) was wrong. There's a big difference on Mercury between the length of a day (how long it takes from one sunrise to the next) and the rotation period (how long it takes for Mercury to rotate once on its axis). The difference is because Mercury rotates very slowly, but as it travels around the sun, the sun shines on a slightly different part of Mercury each morning. If Mercury didn't rotate at all, then a day would be equal to a year (88 earth days on Mercury). If it rotated in the opposite direction than it does, the days would be much shorter. You can try this out with a tennis ball and a lamp in a dark room.
I think there's a lot of excellent information in the book, and some of it you just have to think about to get the idea. Also, what we "know" about the universe also changes as scientists make discoveries. How many planets? depends on how you define "planet".
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