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Frequently Asked Questions 

Book Recommendations for Young Astronomers

By Brenda Culbertson
Director - Washburn Observatory
Topeka, KS

Recently I was asked by an AAAA member to recommend some books about women in astronomy. Eugene is beginning to work with two young girls ( ages 11 & 13 ), and their father, to develop their interest in astronomy. He has the knowledge to help them know what hardware to buy for a first telescope, observing in a light polluted area, simplified star charts, and a technical astronomy book. What he does not know about is a book of inspirational astronomical stories suitable for young girls. This is, obviously, not a technical issue. It is a inquiry about providing vision, inspiration and dreams. 

I have found that to get children (let's not single out girls from boys) interested in astronomy, we need to work with them and let them do it. Books are good for readers, and that is the question, I know, but I have helped several young children (who happen to be girls) get active in astronomy by making them my assistants during viewing sessions. They have sought out books on their own to bring to me instead of the other way around. To answer Eugene's question, here is a list of books that might be of interest when working with children. What I do not know about is a specific book on inspirational stories about women in astronomy, suitable for young girls.

Keep working with the children in whatever ways are successful. Everyone will appreciate it.

Brenda Culbertson

Youth Books

Peterson First Guide to Astronomy 
by Jay M. Pasachoff


Traveler's Guide to the Solar System 
by Patricia Barnes-Svarney 


Space and Astronomy: 49 Science Fair Projects 
by Robert L. Bonnet 


Looking at the Invisible Universe 
by James Jesperson 


Skywatch:  Eyes-On Activities 
for Getting to Know the Stars, Planets and Galaxies

by Peter Lancaster-Brown 


The Night Sky 
by Dennis Mammana 

1st-light.jpg (32181 bytes)

First Light Astronomy Kit
by David and Billie Chandler

Story Books

The Woman Who Fell from the Sky: 
The Iroquois Story of Creation

by John Bierhorst 


A Song of Stars 
by Tom Birdseye 

How the Stars Fell into the Sky : 
A Navajo Legend

by Jerrie Oughton


Ladder to the Sky : 
How the Gift of Healing Came to the Ojibway Nation

by Barbara Esbensen 

The Lost Children : 
The Boys Who Were Neglected 

by Paul Goble 


The Legend of the Milky Way 
by Jeanne M. Lee 


Star Tales: 
North American Indian Stories about the Stars
by Gretchen Mayo 

They Dance in the Sky: 
Native American Star Myths
by Jean Guard Monroe and Ray Williamson Elinda 


Elinda Who Danced in the Sky : 
An Estonian Folktale
by Lynn Moroney 

Coyote Places the Stars 
by Harriet Peck Taylor

One book that is especially inspiring, both for astronomers and non-astronomers alike, is Leslie Petier's Starlight Nights, the Adventures of a Star-Gazer. It is currently available from Sky Publishing Corporation through their web site at www.skypub.com. You can also buy it through Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble. The ISBN is 0-933346-94-8

While this book is not specifically directed at Women in Astronomy, I think you will find it of interest.

Ed Flaspoehler, Vice President 
American Association of Amateur Astronomers 

About the Author: 
Brenda Culbertson

AAAA member Brenda Culbertson is Directory of the Observatory at Washburn University in Topeka, KS. This observatory houses an historic 20-inch Warner & Swayzee refracting telescope that Brenda helped refurbish. Brenda writes a regular quarterly column on observing in the American Astronomer, the AAAA newsletter. Brenda has her own web site, devoted to observing the Aurora Borealis and other astronomical pursuits.



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