Reviewed by Jacqueline Pfeiffer
3rd Grade Teacher
Will an asteroid crash into the Earth anytime soon? What makes an asteroid an asteroid? How many asteroids are there? These and many other questions are answered in this book, one of six in the Explore Outer Space series. Each volume attempts to explain tough topics in astronomy that baffle teachers all the time, such as solar and lunar eclipses, galaxies, nebulae, quasars, asteroids and the asteroid belt, and supernovas.
Young, would–be astronomers need a good science background to understand these topics. With great pictures, photographs, and illustrations, these books fill in that background and explain those tough topics to children (and also help teachers understand those topics). Each book has an interest level appropriate to grades 3 through 6, with a reading level at grades 2–3. Many of the vocabulary words, which are defined in the glossary in the back of the book, would be challenging to most students unless they had a great interest in the topic. The webpage provided was not activated at the time of this review.
Interspersed on every other page are sidebars featuring a “That’s Out of This World” fact. For example, it takes asteroid Ceres 4.6 years to orbit the sun but rotates on its axis once every 9 hours, 4.5 minutes. The spacecraft Dawn, designed to visit two asteroids, carries the names of 365,000 people with it etched on a tiny silicon chip. In 2005, NASA deliberately flew a spacecraft into a comet. This is a great book for space enthusiasts and the photos would draw even reluctant readers in to read the book.
I did have concerns about two statements made in the book that present theory as fact—the extinction of the dinosaurs by an asteroid, and another: “We can be sure that there is no threat of Earth colliding with any of the known Near–Earth Objects for at least the next 100 years.” It's rare that scientists assert that they are sure of information like this and a better presentation of theory would be more accurate.
This is a great book for space enthusiasts and the photos would draw even reluctant readers in to read the book. I highly recommend the series.
Review posted on 1/4/2013