The best night sky books

Many authors have picked their favorite books about the night sky and why they recommend each book.

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Stikky Night Skies

By Laurence Holt,

Book cover of Stikky Night Skies: Learn 6 Constellations, 4 Stars, A Planet, A Galaxy, And How To Navigate At Night

I've bought this book at least a half-dozen times, giving it as a gift to friends who have kids in middle school or who are interested in how principles of learning can be applied in clever ways. This book is elegant in concept and design, and is one of a series of books Holt wrote that use similar applications of the science of learning to teach readers a set of interesting facts in a way that is almost effortless and a lot of fun.


Who am I?

Stephen M. Kosslyn has been immersed in the world of learning for decades. He is the founder of Active Learning Sciences, Inc., and is Chief Academic Officer of Foundry College. Kosslyn's research has focused on the nature of visual cognition, visual communication, and the science of learning; he has published 14 books and over 350 papers on these topics. He has received numerous honors, including the National Academy of Sciences Initiatives in Research Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, three honorary Doctorates, and election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


I wrote...

Active Learning Online: Five Principles that Make Online Courses Come Alive

By Stephen M. Kosslyn,

Book cover of Active Learning Online: Five Principles that Make Online Courses Come Alive

What is my book about?

Inspired by the surge of online courses during the COVID 19 pandemic, researcher and educational innovator Stephen M. Kosslyn offers a treasure trove of active learning principles and activities to bring online courses alive. Whether your course is synchronous (e.g., live with Zoom) or asynchronous (e.g., using video content on Canvas), Active Learning Online will inject your new or existing course with all the benefits of active learning: your course will be more interesting and effective, student engagement will increase, learning outcomes will be reached, and general teaching and learning experiences will be enriched.

At the heart of this book are five key principles from the science of learning that will help to ensure that the taught materials stick in students’ minds: (1) deep processing, (2) chunking, (3) building associations, (4) dual coding, and (5) deliberate practice. Based on these learning principles,
Active Learning Online provides a wealth of specific active learning exercises that you can implement in your classes immediately. 

The Last Stargazers

By Emily Levesque,

Book cover of The Last Stargazers: The Enduring Story of Astronomy's Vanishing Explorers

Author Emily Levesque seeks out powerful telescopes and the people who run them, looking at the evolution of astronomy from a science based on hands-on observing to one more centered on remote-controlled instruments. In the book, she questions what astronomy may have lost in its shift toward more distanced and abstracted technology—and what sorts of creativity and adventure it could retain if the study of the stars were a little more like it was in centuries past. I enjoyed the hard, but narrative and engaging, look at what professional astronomers gain and lose from the way they look at the stars (and everything else in the sky).


Who am I?

I grew up intending to become an astronaut. The cosmos always felt within reach of my backyard, from where I could watch the Space Shuttle launch. As I grew up, I began to realize that the space our rockets reached was exceedingly close compared to the rest of the universe. And I became obsessed with what else was out there. I went on to study radio astronomy, fascinated by the parts of the cosmos that our senses can’t detect. After that, I became a science journalist, writing about how space influences Earth and vice versa.


I wrote...

Astronomical Mindfulness: Your Cosmic Guide to Reconnecting with the Sun, Moon, Stars, and Planets

By Christopher G. de Pree, Sarah Scoles,

Book cover of Astronomical Mindfulness: Your Cosmic Guide to Reconnecting with the Sun, Moon, Stars, and Planets

What is my book about?

Back when humans lived in communal caves and tribal encampments, we told stories about the stars. When we started sailing, we used these same pinpricks of light to estimate our own location. When we began planting, we relied on the constellations and the Sun to plant and sustain crops. crops. Yet today, most modern humans have lost this deep connection to the cosmos that was once central to our daily lives. To help us reestablish our vital connection to the heavens, Astronomical Mindfulness guides readers in using the power of the sun, moon, stars, and planets to deepen knowledge of the solar system and foster a renewed sense of presence in the universe. Filled with engaging exercises, the shows the fundamental ways our planet moves through the solar system and how these motions determine our perception of time and place.

Once in a Full Moon

By Carol Goodman, Mariia Luzina (illustrator),

Book cover of Once in a Full Moon

I love to get kids excited about the night time and all the adventures that can be had when exploring the outdoors at night. Watching the moon is something kids can do even in a city filled with bright lights. This book focuses on the moon as the seasons go by, with the unique names for each full moon—Strawberry Moon, Cold Moon, Harvest Moon. Moon-gazing is the first step in getting kids to feel comfortable outdoors after the sun goes down.


Who am I?

As a writer, I’m especially fascinated by plants and animals that no one loves. My books are intended to get kids excited about science and help them appreciate the wonders of the natural world. Many years of fieldwork, leading children on nature walks, have given me firsthand experience in introducing students to the terrors and joys of nature. I especially enjoy the beauties of the night, from fireflies to coyote howls to star-gazing!


I wrote...

Wait Till It Gets Dark: A Kid's Guide to Exploring the Night

By Anita Sanchez, John Himmelman (illustrator),

Book cover of Wait Till It Gets Dark: A Kid's Guide to Exploring the Night

What is my book about?

It’s night. It’s dark. It’s time to go indoors—or is it? The outdoors at night can be a scary place, but this book will help young readers investigate the mysterious nature of night.

To explore the night, it would be great to have eyes like an owl, the sensitive nose of a deer, and feet that can move as silently as a fox. Humans aren’t quite as good as nocturnal animals at navigating the darkness, but we can come surprisingly close. Our senses are much sharper than we realize, if we learn how to use them. Some scientists are even researching the sensory abilities of human hair! Each chapter of the book spotlights a different nocturnal creature. And while learning about animals’ adaptations for navigating the world of night, young readers discover their own surprising abilities.

A Whale of a Mistake

By Ioana Hobai,

Book cover of A Whale of a Mistake

A Whale of a Mistake is written in the second person reaching into the hearts of the listener. With lyrical text and gorgeous, expansive illustrations, the author and illustrator address the feelings that accompany making mistakes and places that experience in a broader context. The aim is to help the reader gain perspective and self-acceptance, that the world isn’t perfect, and neither are you. 


Who am I?

I am a child psychologist and an award-winning author of several books for children and teens related to emotions, behavior, and the science behind them. I believe children love to see themselves in books and to learn about others. Making complex information clear and watching children light up with understanding is my goal for every book I write.


I wrote...

What to Do When Mistakes Make You Quake: A Kid's Guide to Accepting Imperfection

By Claire A. B. Freeland, Jacqueline B. Toner, Janet McDonnell (illustrator)

Book cover of What to Do When Mistakes Make You Quake: A Kid's Guide to Accepting Imperfection

What is my book about?

Explorers investigate places they have never been before. These explorers might take a while to make their discoveries. They might have trouble understanding their maps. They might make wrong turns. They might need to start their expedition all over again! If explorers could not accept their mistakes and keep going, they might never make any discoveries! Does this sound like you? If you have trouble accepting mistakes, if you try to be right all the time, or if you worry about being less than the best, this book is for you!

What to Do When Mistakes Make You Quake guides children and their parents through the emotions underlying a fear of making mistakes using strategies and techniques based on cognitive-behavioral principles. This interactive self-help book is the complete resource for educating, motivating, and empowering children to cope with mistakes — so they can explore new territory without fear!

The Human Cosmos

By Jo Marchant,

Book cover of The Human Cosmos: Civilization and the Stars

This book helped me understand the history of humans’ relationship to the sky, and how our connection to it has in a lot of ways decreased, while civilizational knowledge of what’s actually going on up there has increased. It provides both the means and the motivation for the people of the modern world to act a bit more like the people of the past.


Who am I?

I grew up intending to become an astronaut. The cosmos always felt within reach of my backyard, from where I could watch the Space Shuttle launch. As I grew up, I began to realize that the space our rockets reached was exceedingly close compared to the rest of the universe. And I became obsessed with what else was out there. I went on to study radio astronomy, fascinated by the parts of the cosmos that our senses can’t detect. After that, I became a science journalist, writing about how space influences Earth and vice versa.


I wrote...

Astronomical Mindfulness: Your Cosmic Guide to Reconnecting with the Sun, Moon, Stars, and Planets

By Christopher G. de Pree, Sarah Scoles,

Book cover of Astronomical Mindfulness: Your Cosmic Guide to Reconnecting with the Sun, Moon, Stars, and Planets

What is my book about?

Back when humans lived in communal caves and tribal encampments, we told stories about the stars. When we started sailing, we used these same pinpricks of light to estimate our own location. When we began planting, we relied on the constellations and the Sun to plant and sustain crops. crops. Yet today, most modern humans have lost this deep connection to the cosmos that was once central to our daily lives. To help us reestablish our vital connection to the heavens, Astronomical Mindfulness guides readers in using the power of the sun, moon, stars, and planets to deepen knowledge of the solar system and foster a renewed sense of presence in the universe. Filled with engaging exercises, the shows the fundamental ways our planet moves through the solar system and how these motions determine our perception of time and place.