Wow - In case you haven't heard (or seen the bright heavenly bodies), March 2012 ranks among the best months ever for planet watching! Five planets are visible, according to Earthsky.org:
"Mercury, the innermost planet, makes its best evening appearance for the year in the Northern Hemisphere. All over the world, Mars shines at its greatest brilliance for the year – and moreover, the red planet stays out all night long. Plus, the brightest and second-brightest planets – Venus and Jupiter, respectively – come together for a stunning conjunction in mid-March. Saturn, the farthest and faintest visible planet, is nonetheless as bright as the brightest stars, and its glorious rings are surprisingly easy to view through a backyard telescope".
Since ancient times, people have been looking up and wondering about all of the things that glow in the night sky, and about our place in the big, wide universe. The study of the night sky and all of the objects and forces up there is called astronomy, and A Child's Introduction to the Night Sky by Michael Driscoll is a great introduction to what astronomers have learned (and are still discovering), what astronauts and scientists explore—and what you yourself can find by gazing up into the night sky... (ages 8 and up)
You live on Earth, so you already know a lot about it. But do you know about its place in out solar system? For instance, it's not the largest planet. If Jupiter were a hallow ball, 1,000 Earths would fit inside it. And did you know our planet Earth takes 365 days to go around the sun, while the planet Pluto takes 248 years?
This simple text by Franklyn M. Branley introduces the nine planets in our solar system and is complemented by Kevin O'Malley's full-color illustrations, which incorporate some of the newest space photographs available. How hot is it on Venus? Which planet takes longest to orbit the sun? Find out the answers in this updated version of this popular text. Included are many hands-on activities... (ages 5 and up)
My kids loved The Magic School Bus series! To celebrate its 20th anniversary, Scholastic has re-releasing the ten original Magic School Bus titles in paperback. With updated scientific information, the bestselling science series ever is back!
The Magic School Bus Lost in the Solar System, by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen: The field trip to the planetarium is foiled when the museum turns out to be closed, but Ms. Frizzle saves the day. The Magic School Bus turns into a spaceship and takes the class on a trip zooming through the atmosphere, to the Moon, and beyond! With up-to-date facts about the solar system, revised for this edition. (ages 5 and up)