- Virginia Johnson
Great stars above!
From our place beneath the heavens, the stars seem to be tiny pinpoints of light. People have seen patterns in the stars for thousands of years. In the storytellers' imaginations, warriors and princesses, flying horses and laughing coyotes all found their way to the stars. Some soothsayers still tell fortunes based on the mysteries of astrology, or the alignment of the planets.
Astronomers know that the real mysteries of space are much greater than the accidental alignments of the stars. Stars, in all their blazing glory of red, blue, green, yellow, and more, are pulsing and moving, swirling around in their galaxies which, in turn, move around the Universe. The stars themselves may be ages old, but we continue to learn more about them all the time. Recently, scientists discovered ten new planets--one of which is orbiting a very young star.
By using a lot of patience and smarts, astronomers are learning more than ever how the Universe is put together. You, too, can study the stars. A simple telescope is handy, but your naked eye can teach you much about the stars in our neighborhood of the Universe. Don't be discouraged if you live near so many houses that the light drowns out the heavens. Your parents may be able to take you on a special stargazing trip to the countryside, or you could join a local astronomy group to learn even more.
However you want to discover the heavens, these books and Web sites can get you star-ted out right.
The Big Dipper by Franklyn M. Branley
The Big Dipper is one of the easiest constellations to find in the sky, and it points the way to the North Star. Its position changes with the seasons. Learn more in this let's-read-and-find-out science book for young readers.
The Sky Is Full of Stars by Franklyn M. Branley.
Find the constellations all year long.
They Dance in the Sky: Native American Star Myths [compiled by] Jean Guard Monroe and Ray A. Williamson.
Indians of North America had their own fascinating star legends. Read stories about Coyote the troublemaker, wolves, bears, eagles and people who all found their way to the heavens. Perfect for stargazing sleepovers!
The Milky Way by Gregory L. Vogt
Discover the scientific mysteries of the Milky Way Galaxy, a band of night sky with filled with planets and stars, including our own Earth. This is book is part of the Early Bird Astronomy series for students.
Star Guide by Franklyn M. Branley
Learn what stars are made of and what they do.
Stargazers Gail Gibbons.
There are billions and billions of stars. Some are brighter than others; some twinkle; some are different colors; and some are in groups called constellations. The information here provides answers to basic questions about stars and explains how telescopes work.
Stargazing: Astronomy Without a Telescope by Patrick Moore.
More advanced stargazers may want to try this book, which includes star charts.
On the Web
A Backyard Stargazing Sleepover Party
Party with the real stars! Tips for a successful sleepover including games, decorations, and food. Three Web pages in all.
EurekaAlert: Space and Planetary Science
Check this site daily for the latest on space discoveries. The information can be extremely technical, but it's extremely fascinating.
The Nine Planets: A Multimedia Tour of the Solar System
Symbols, historical significances, and much discussion of the planets and their neighbors with photographs. Cross-links to other site topics. Links to related outside pages.
Rappahannock Astronomy Club
"Welcome to the Rappahannock Astronomy Club's web site. RAC is a non-profit organization of amateur astronomers located in the Fredericksburg, VA area. If you have even a passing interest in the night sky, come and see us at one of our monthly meetings or activities."
Stargazing in Virginia
Suggestions for cool places to go to see the stars in our state, whether in the mountains, on the beach, or at a planetarium.
Windows to the Universe
Sections on the Earth, the Solar System, the Universe, and more from the National Earth Science Teachers Association. Includes news, mythology, anamolies, images and information on specific planets. Also connects to Space Weather. This one has sections for beginning, intermediate, and advanced students. Some content available in Spanish.