One of the best things about reviewing for GeekDad is the great book post I’m receiving. It’s an absolute privilege to read and review books before and around publication, and I love doing that. Perhaps better than when a review copy arrives when you slip it into the envelope with the requested title, A Book That Wasn’t Researched. Especially if this book is an absolute gem. This is the case for the planets are very, very far away, by Mike Fago.
What is it Are the planets very, very far away?
There are a number of similar books and YouTube videos for the planets are very, very far away, It’s all based on an idea I’ll never get tired of – how do I show the vastness of the universe? The book, entitled “A Journey Through the Spectacular Scope of the Solar System,” aims to show how far apart the planets and other celestial bodies are. It does that and much more.
Planets and stars are topics that excite inquisitive young minds. This book exploits that passion and then enhances it with the addition of fold-out pages. There’s just something about presenting information in a concrete style that grips with younger readers (much like the recently reviewed Questions and answers about money). The planets are very, very far away He achieves this tactile component by using pages that fold to a width of 5 feet.
Why do you read Are the planets very, very far away?
Showing how far away the planets are is very difficult. The distances involved are almost incomprehensible. This book does a very good job of helping us understand. He begins by explaining how scales work using a chair, an elephant, and the Eiffel Tower.
Then it displays an image of the Sun at a scale of 1000000000000:1. This page unfolds to the left, twice, and gives three panels. The sun is on the far left of the page, and Mercury is 58 cm away. The book states that the small point that is Mercury is ten times larger than it should be for the given scale. If not, we won’t be able to see it. The sun at the far end of the page is about the size of a dime. The book unfolds 3 more pages and on page 5 we see Venus, and on page 6, 1.5 meters from the Sun, we have Earth.
We used 6 pages and still only found 3 planets. The size of the solar system is beginning to appear.
We continue to walk boldly.
Before we do that, we’re dealing with a breakdown of the four inner planets, with plenty of physical information, and a description of the possibilities of the humans who live there. We also have a helpful explanation of orbital ellipses and how the planets get closer and closer as they orbit the sun.
Next, we switch to a 1 trillion:1 scale and another 6-sheet cloud which enables us to see Mars, the asteroid belt, Ceres, and across the other side of the page, Jupiter and Saturn. Before we go to the 10 trillion:1 scale, we’re treated to a description of the remaining planets and some advanced talk on orbits; They’re not all in a flat plane, you know.
At this point, we’re kind of over the record fare for the solar system, with Pluto still being the elephant in the room for many of us (although not those who have read How to teach adults about Pluto). When we talk about Pluto, we have to think of elliptical orbits and dwarf planets. Just what and how keep Makemake and Iris apart? Which of them, if any, rhyme with cake? There is a lot of great information here about the outskirts of the solar system.
but that is not all …
Where exactly does the solar system end? When is the rock, and when is the planet formed? Two questions asked by the book. How many dwarf planets could there be? What is Sedna and where?
Why don’t you continue? How far from the stars? How many are within 10 light years of Earth? The book is now at a scale of 100 quadrillion:1 and our little minds are baffled. There is even a final treatment, that goes so far, that makes you feel very small, but also in awe of the sheer size and scope of the universe.
The planets are very, very far away It is an excellent book. A person who has a task and is 100% successful in completing it. If you are looking to inspire your children to the wonders of the solar system, this is an excellent and creative way to do so. Many books contain the information gathered in this book, but very few, if any, can convey the sheer size of our little corner of the universe*.
*Note: It is not actually a corner.
If you would like a copy of The planets are very, very far away You can do it here, in the US, and here in the UK.
If you enjoyed this post, check out my other book reviews, here.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book to write this review.