Books About Meteors and Meteorites

Space. The final frontier. Those words were the opening words of the television show "Star Trek." Perhaps it is the status as a frontier that makes space and everything in it so fascinating to children and adults alike. A frontier is full of unknowns and cries out to be explored. Of course, it might also be that we can only see so much into space and that leaves much open to our imaginations. It also lights our curiosity and opens doors to learning. One thing we can sometimes see from Earth without a telescope are meteors, especially meteor showers. It's also possible to find pieces of meteors, which means that we can hold a piece of a rock that once had been in outer space! But what exactly are meteors? If you have a child who loves learning about space and asks that kind of question, you might be interested in some of these books. You'll find something for any age child.

When a meteor enters the Earth's atmosphere, it burns up. It looks like a star streaking across the sky, and because of the way they look as they fall to Earth, meteors have been nicknamed "falling stars." Although a meteor can look like a star with a tail, it's not the same as comet, which also have tails and can sometimes be seen streaking across the sky. Comets don't fall to the Earth, though; they move through space, usually far from the Earth. Asteroids are usually far from the Earth, too. Like the planets, many asteroids orbit the sun, in an area between Jupiter and Mars, called the "asteroid belt." Comets don't orbit the sun. What are some other differences between comets, meteors, and asteroids?

Ages 5 to 8

This book explains the differences between comets, meteors, and asteroids, and accompanying the relatively large text are some interesting color photographs. One photo is of a meteor shower; another is of a large impact crater in Arizona. Readers will learn about where each of these space "rocks" can be found, what each is made up of, and what each looks like. Before discussing the different objects, the book covers some history, informing readers that comets have been recorded throughout history, and providing some facts about what people originally believed about these celestial objects.

Ages 6 to 10

When many meteors appear in the sky at the same time, it is called a meteor shower. This book explains more about what a meteor shower is and when they happen. It also helps readers understand the difference between a meteor, a meteoroid, and a meteorite. While there is much in the book about meteor showers, there is additional information about meteoroids and meteorites. How do these objects fall to earth and what can we learn from them when we find them? The end pages of the book include some statistics on these objects, a list of important words (with pronunciation guides), and a list of resources, such as Web sites for additional information.

Ages 7 and up

For older kids who are interested in learning more about meteorites (meteoroids that landed on Earth), this book is a good choice. Like the books for younger kids, this one covers the issues of where these objects come from and what they're made of. It provides more thorough explanations, though, and adds some information. What some kids will find especially interesting is the section that provides useful hints for meteorite hunting. Meteorites are the only rocks on Earth that did not originate on the Earth. They are truly space rocks.

Ages - Young Adults

If your child is ready to move beyond children's books about meteors and meteorites, this book is a good choice. It's especially good for those who are interested in finding and collecting meteorites. It even has a directory of meteorite dealers for those who are eager to own a meteorite but who haven't yet found one. If you're thinking that meteorites are all large enough to create craters, you want to think again. Most meteorites that land on Earth are fairly small. (That's why we don't find many large craters!) The book also includes a list of yearly meteor showers and provides readers with the basics of observing, studying, and even collecting these objects. But there is also plenty of scientific information about meteorites: what they are, where they come from, and what they're made of.

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