Thursday, March 07, 2013

Far-Out Science Fair Fare: Step-by-Step Science Experiments in Astronomy by Janice VanCleave

In this book, you will learn that astronomy is one of the few sciences in which amateurs can play a significant role.

You don't need your own Hubble telescope or a Ph.D. in physics to make a significant contribution. In 1995 two amateur astronomers, Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp, working independently of each other, discovered a comet beyond the orbit of Jupiter. Comet Hale-Bopp, as it came to be known, was spectacularly visible to the naked eye and became perhaps the most widely witnessed comet of the twentieth century.
Author Janice VanCleave, who pretty much "wrote the book(s)" on science projects in recent years, has a new series of projects suitable for school-wide or classroom projects, including Step-by-Step Science Experiments in Astronomy (Janice VanCleave's First-Place Science Fair Projects) (Rosen Publishing, 2013), With truly minimal equipment (a couple of magnifying glasses are the most esoteric items required) and simple instructions, VanCleave's experiments explain twenty-two basic principles of astrophysics--retrograde motion, inertia, scintillation, stellar parallax, centripetal force--and show how and, more importantly, why these principles work to  keep the known universe in motion  as we observe it from earth.

With color photographs of a couple of middle school subjects demonstrating the step-by-step performance of these hands-on experiments and easy-to-assemble and follow experiments and instructions, this book is one of the few new experiment books in the field of astronomy, the last province in science where the amateur is a significant participant in advancing knowledge. Perfect for elementary and middle school projects or simply for astronomy buffs who want to recapitulate the great discoveries of history in their own bedrooms, Step-by-Step Science Experiments in Astronomy (Janice VanCleave's First-Place Science Fair Projects)has the right stuff for young explorers of those heavenly mysteries.

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