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