Sky to Space
Astronomy Beyond the Basics with Comparisons, Ratios and Proportions
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Sample pages and links to buy the book

 

About the book Sky to Space and how to buy your own copy!

The Planetary Society's Emily Lakdawalla selects Sky to Space as one of her recommended space books for kids of all ages, 2017. Click here for the list!

Hear Steve in conversation with space journalist Rod Pyle on his podcast "Cool Space News" from KFI, Los Angeles. Click to listen!

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Sky to Space: Astronomy Beyond the Basics with Comparisons, Ratios and

Proportions...

...gets you started as a space explorer. This book shows you how to follow the clockwork motions of Earth’s sky, then how to predict what you would see from our moon, other planets and moons in our solar system and other solar systems.

You’ll get scientifically accurate results using pencil, paper and easier-than you-think math. An extensive chapter on eclipses explains the movements of the moon and its shadow and shows you how to predict eclipses using the Saros cycle. Additional moon chapters include “Giant Moon,” “Red Moon” and “Why Does the Moon Seem to Follow Your Car?”

This book contains many project ideas. With a pencil, a ruler, and two coins, accurately draw the phase (crescent, quarter, or gibbous) of any moon or planet as seen from anywhere in a solar system. Figure out how far you must fly from Earth for our home planet to appear as a point of light. Use real data to predict how big one of the TRAPPIST-1 exoplanets would appear in the sky of one of its neighbors.

Science students looking for project topics, homeschool and unschool families, amateur astronomers and model rocket flyers, lifelong learners and space cadets of all ages will find exciting new ideas in this book.

Sample pages

Sky to Space has over 100 pages of intriguing information and project ideas, plus two handy pages of frequently-needed data on sizes and orbits of planets and moons in our solar system.

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Table of Contents

PREFACE

INTRODUCTION

Solar Eclipses of the Near Future

CHAPTER 1: COMPARING

How to Compare

How to Compare Size and Distance

The Astronomical Unit or AU

Projects

How Far Can I Trust My Calculator?


CHAPTER 2: SEEING

How Do We See Things?

A “Ray” of Light

How Large Do Objects Appear?

Our Friend, the Skinny Triangle

Radians

Three Ways of Dividing a Circle

Sun and Moon in Space and in Our Sky

A Moon and the Sun from Jupiter

Exploring Space with Skinny Triangles

Which Facts Are Correct?

Projects


CHAPTER 3: PROPORTIONS

An Incredibly Powerful Way of Figuring Things Out

Watching the Moon and Sun as Earth Rotates

Watch the Moon Revolve Around the Earth

Watch Other Worlds Rotate

Projects


CHAPTER 4: AN ARTIST WHO TOOK US INTO SPACE

Chesley Bonestell

Projects


CHAPTER 5: OUR MOON

Half Moon and All That

The Terminator

Your Master Diagram of the Moon’s Phases

The Moon’s Phases as We See Them

Dark Sides, Shadows and Silhouettes

How to Draw Phases of the Moon

Projects


CHAPTER 6: MOON FAQ

Baffling Moonrise Photos

When Light Does Not Go in Straight Lines

Atmospheric Refraction

Giant Moon

“Red” Moon

Why Does the Moon Seem to Follow Your Car?


CHAPTER 7: AT HOME IN THE SKY

Frames of Reference

The Celestial Sphere

The Sun on the Celestial Sphere

What Did We Just Do?

Locating Things in the Sky

Sunset and Sunrise

Changing Directions of Sunset

Projects


CHAPTER 8: MOON AND MONTH

The Full Moon

Other Phases of the Moon

How the Moon Moves in Space

Two Kinds of Month

The First Thing About Lunar Geography

The Far Side


CHAPTER 9: ECLIPSES

Eclipses: What You See

Eclipses: Two Kinds

Umbra, Penumbra, Total, Partial

What Is Dangerous About Viewing a Solar Eclipse?

How to Predict Eclipses

The Moon’s True Path

Why Not An Eclipse Every Month?

The Moon’s Orbit: Extra Features

Why the Saros Cycle Works

Saros Series, or Families of Eclipses

Eclipse Seasons

How “Pointy” Is the Moon’s Shadow?

How Long Does It Take for the Moon’s Shadow to Cross the Earth?

How Fast Does the Shadow Sweep Over Earth’s Surface?

The Curving Path of Totality

How Long Can an Eclipse Take?

Projecting the Sun

Dappled Shade

Projects


CHAPTER 10: BEYOND

At What Distance Does Earth Appear as a Point of Light?

The Kepler-36 Exoplanet System

What Would We See from Proxima Centauri b?

Moon Phases with More than One Sun

Projects: The TRAPPIST-1 System


RULES OF THUMB AND DATA TABLES

Rules of Thumb

Useful Information and Data Tables