All About That Space, No Tribbles!

Readers interested in astronauts, planets, stars, and discovery will love AADL's new youth nonfiction books on space!

Professor Astro Cat's Frontiers of Space, by Dr. Dominic Walliman and Ben Newman, will have you hooked from the first page! Professor Astro Cat and friends travel through space to discover the composition of the sun, relative sizes of the planets, and a step by step process of how the Apollo II astronauts landed on the moon! Each page is highly visual with engaging graphics and interesting facts. Did you know that the International Space Station orbits the Earth 15.7 times every day? Or that objects falling into a black hole experience spaghettification? Check out this colorful book for a wild ride and even more amazing space facts!

How to Be a Space Explorer: Your Out-of-this-World Adventure by Mark Brake makes YOU the astronaut! First, get ready for space in a gravity simulator and use light-years to discover just how far apart the planets really are. Check out all the different materials used in your space suit like nylon tricot, spandex, and mylar. Real photographs of different types of spacecraft and tips for making your own bottle rocket take you on your way! Up, up, up into space until you're touring the moon and looking for signs of life. You'll feel like you're really there with this incredibly fun and interactive book.

Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos by Stephanie Roth Sisson paints a beautiful picture of the life of celebrity scientist Carl Sagan! A trip to the World's Fair as a child inspired him to dream big. He spent a lot of time at the library learning about stars and one day became the astronomer and cosmologist that so many people know about today! This book is a great biography for beginning readers with stunning illustrations.

Are you like Carl Sagan and just can't get enough science? Check out AADL's other books on space and science tools!

Professor Astro Cat's Frontiers of Space

Looking for a cool new non-fiction book with a twist? Look no further: Professor Astro Cat's Frontiers of Space has just arrived! Join Professor Astro (a very smart kitty!) as he leads readers through our galaxy and beyond, stopping along the way to explain and explore our solar system. Have you ever wondered how a rocket works? Or maybe you've always wanted to know how to find your favorite constellation in the night sky? Professor Astro is here to help!

Professor Astro Cat's Frontiers of Space is overflowing with cool information, and covers varied space topics such as the life cycle of stars, the Apollo missions, the International Space Station, how modern space suits work, constellations, telescopes, and many more cool space topics. Much of the information is delivered through funky and retro illustrations. This is the kind of book you can spend hours with, pouring over the small details. This book was created by Dr. Dominic Wallman (who holds a PhD in Quantum Physics) and award-winning illustrator and comic book creator Ben Newman, making it both scientifically accurate as well as very visually appealing. This is a great book for all ages, and comes highly recommended!

Interested in learning even more about space? Try out the DK Guide to Space or The Story of Astronomy and Space for more information.

Grab a scope for tonight's asteroid fly-by!

Want to see a mountain-sized asteroid tonight from your own backyard? If so, your best bet is to fix a small telescope on something in its path and wait for it to fly past. In this case, look for the open cluster M44, known as the Beehive Cluster, in the constellation Cancer; it's about halfway between Jupiter and Pollux. The asteroid will be flying near it between about 12:45 and 1:00 a.m. tonight, January 27. Here are some observing tips.

So quick, run in and grab a scope (we have some handy right now at the Downtown branch) and set yourself up!

If you can find Orion, you can find Comet Lovejoy!

Comet Lovejoy is proving to be a bit more wonderful than expected. Sure, it’s cold out there, but if you know where to find the constellation Orion (in the southeast), you can locate Lovejoy pretty quickly before heading back inside. Comet Lovejoy is charting a course past Orion over the next couple weeks and getting higher in the sky. It's fairly bright and right now a magnetic storm may be in progress in the tail of the comet causing "plasma blobs" and "disconnection events" visible in amateur telescopes.

We have telescopes you can check out, but to see the comet you really only need a decent pair of binoculars, which we also happen to have on hand.

So run in and grab a telescope or a pair of binoculars so you're ready on the next clear night!

Observing a Meteor Shower

The Perseid Meteor Shower is peaking right now and although the weather in Ann Arbor isn't exactly cooperating tonight, it looks like it may clear up in the next couple days. So prepare yourself for a shower of comet debris by grabbing one of our new binoculars, part of our collection of Science Tools. Even if the moon outshines the shower, at least you'll have the perfect tool for gazing at the mountains and craters of the moon.

Gravity: Visually Stunning, Prize Winning Film

For an entertaining 90-minute break from Earth, check out the movie Gravity, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. "Houston" down below is the voice of Ed Harris. Space is depicted as a very dangerous place -- a New York Times reviewer called this film a "Jack London tale in orbit."
Last night the film won seven (7!) Academy Awards, including best director, best cinematography, and best visual effects.
In the film, Sandra Bullock plays Ryan Stone, a star scientist and mother who has lost her young daughter. George Clooney is a seasoned astronaut. Following an accident, the two are stranded in space, facing daunting challenges such as trying to avoid a lethal storm of debris.
Alfonso Cuaron wrote the script with his son Jonás. Cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki is beyond fabulous. State-of- the- art special effects, both analog and digital, made me feel like I was, yes, floating in space.
Rating is PG 13. Currently at AADL there are 680 requests on 40 copies of the DVD and 437 requests on 30 copies of the Blu-ray. Place your order now!

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, a star exploded and you can see it today!

As reported yesterday, astronomers have detected what appears to be a Type 1a supernova - an exploding white dwarf - in nearby galaxy M82, the closest to us in 40 years. Supernova 2014J, as it's been named, is a little hard to see in small scopes right now, but it's predicted to grow significantly brighter over the next two weeks before it fades away - easy enough to spot in the library's 4.5-inch telescope and even binoculars.

M82, also known as the "Cigar Galaxy" because of its shape, is part of a popular galaxy pair (M81-M82) in a relatively dim region of the constellation Ursa Major, about a fist's width above the bowl of the Big Dipper in the northeastern sky. It's visible by 7:00 or 8:00 p.m. in our region and will be visible throughout the night.

Sky & Telescope has some additional information and star maps to help you find Galaxy M82.

Northern Lights Visible Thursday Night Over Michigan

You may have heard on the local news that the northern lights might be visible tonight due to a solar flare that occurred on Tuesday. If typical winter lake effect cloud cover dissipates then the lights will be able to be seen. If you’re typically early to bed then you might miss the show as the best viewing times are between midnight and four a.m.

If you’d like to learn more about how solar wind particles, magnetic fields and gases in the atmosphere interact to cause an aurora you can check out some books the library has on the subject.

Check out a Telescope!

Did you know the library has telescopes for checkout? If this news tickles your astronomer's fancy, take a look at the Quick Start Comic to see how it works. And check out some viewing tips to see what's in the skies in our area. You can put your name on the Hold list for a two week checkout or, if you can't wait for your name to come up, you may find one in Up For Grabs, a first-come first-served collection with a one week checkout, available at all branches.

And if you missed Comet ISON, don't despair! If ISON survives its pass by the sun on November 28, it'll be back around the other side in December. Look for it near the sun just before sunrise.

Mary Stewart Adams on Diane Rehm Tuesday

Mary Stewart Adams, director of the Headlands International Dark Sky Park in Michigan, will be one of four panelists on the 11:00 segment of the Diane Rehm show today. Panelists will be talking about combatting light pollution. We spoke with Stewart last year about her mission to preserve the stories of the stars and the dark skies in Michigan, and she'll be back again at AADL December 14, for an exhibit and another evening of star lore - just in time for the appearance of comet ISON.

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