Sky Gazing

A Guide to the Moon, Sun, Planets, Stars, Eclipses, and Constellations


By Meg Thacher

Formats and Prices




$24.95 CAD



  1. Hardcover $19.95 $24.95 CAD
  2. ebook $11.99 $15.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around October 13, 2020. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

The sun, moon, stars, and planets have been a source of wonder for as long as humans have lived on earth.

In this highly visual guide to observing the sky with the naked eye, kids aged 9–14 will delve into the science behind what they see. This captivating book offers a tour of our solar system and deep space, explaining how objects like Earth’s moon were formed and introducing the “why” behind phenomena such as eclipses, northern lights, and meteor showers. Sky gazers will learn how to find and observe planets — no binoculars or telescopes required — and star charts will show them how to spot constellations through the seasons and in both hemispheres.

Activities include tracking the cycles of the sun and moon and observing the sky during daylight hours or on a cloudy night. Includes profiles of professional astronomers and sidebars on space technology and current issues, such as light pollution.



What's in This Book?

With most books, you start at the beginning and read through to the end. This book was made to skip around in. The chapters are organized from closest (the Moon) to farther (the Sun and planets) to farthest (the stars).

Hi! Call me Star Dude.
I'll show up now and then to guide you through this book and share some things I know.

Each chapter ends with a section called A Closer Look on how to observe the sky with binoculars.

Your Astronomy Notebook will help you keep track of your discoveries.

Some activities are easy and some are harder ★ ★ ★. Follow the stars.

You'll also find instructions for viewing Special Events like eclipses and meteor showers.


1. Step into the SKY

The Sky Belongs to Everyone

What's Up There?

Astronomy Notebook: Start a Sky Journal

Where to Sky Gaze

Darkness and Light

Finding Your Way around the Sky

TRY IT: Cosmic Protractor

Astronomy Notebook: Be a Weather Watcher

Light Shows

Special Effects

TRY IT: Watch Day Turn into Night

Night Vision

TRY IT: Make a Red Flashlight

Journey into Our Home Galaxy: The Milky Way


A CLOSER LOOK: Binoculars

2. The MOON


Astronomy Notebook: Make a Moon Diary

Our One and Only Moon

Moonrise, Moonset

Moon Illusions

TRY IT: Do a Moondance

Sightseeing on the Moon

How the Moon Formed

Astronomy Notebook: Picture the Moon

Moon Map

SPECIAL EVENT: Lunar Eclipse


3. The Sun


Astronomy Notebook: Make a Sunset Calendar

How Seasons Happen

Sun Paths

Telling Time by the Sun

TRY IT: Track the Sun

A Visit to the Sun

How the Sun Formed

SPECIAL EVENT: Solar Eclipse

TRY IT: Make a Pinhole Projector


4. Planets

Earth's Siblings in the Sky

Star or Planet?

Planets Inside and Outside

Sky Wanderer

Roaming around the Solar System

TRY IT: Make a Scale Model

Meet a Planet









Pluto and other Dwarf Planets

Astronomy Notebook: Design Your Own Solar System

TRY IT: Be the Solar System

How the Solar System Formed


Other Suns and Their Solar Systems

A CLOSER LOOK: The Planets

5. Stars and Constellations

Star Light, Star Bright

How Stars Move During the Night

TRY IT: Find North & South Using the Stars

Astronomy Notebook: DIY Constellations

Why Humans Invented Constellations

The Zodiac and the Ecliptic

Star Seasons

TRY IT: Make Your Own Star Wheel

Seasonal Sky Gazing

How Stars Are Born, Live, and Die

SPECIAL EVENT: Meteor Shower

A CLOSER LOOK: Deep Sky Objects

Appendix: Find Out More

TRY IT: Throw a Star Party

Meteor Shower Calendar

Eclipses 2020–2030

Binocular Objects

Buying Binoculars

TRY IT: Make Dew Shields


The glossary has definitions of words you may not know — and words that astronomers use in a different way from most people. (In the book those words are highlighted , like this, when first used.)



Explore the Natural World with More Books from Storey

Share Your Experience!


Step into the Sky

Our universe is filled with stars, planets, and all sorts of amazing stuff — and you can see them no matter where you live. You don't need fancy tools: just look up.

The Sky Belongs to Everyone

Long ago, kids knew all about the night sky. They could find north and tell time by the Sun. They knew which constellations came with which season.

Of course, this was easier before the invention of streetlights. The sky they saw was speckled with thousands of stars. These days, we can see only a few hundred from our cities and suburbs. Many people live their whole life without seeing the Milky Way.

But no matter where you live or how many stars you can see at night, you can observe the sky. You can do everything those kids from long ago could do — and more! We've learned a lot about the universe since our ancestors started sky gazing.

This book is about astronomy, the study of stars, planets, and space. Astronomy is interesting for its own sake, but it's also an important part of human history. Ever since there were people, we've been looking at the stars: tracking and recording their motion, making pictures and stories out of them, and wondering why they are there.

The sky inspired us to invent math and physics so we could explain what caused nature's patterns, starting with how objects move across the sky. It got us thinking about more than just what to eat and where to live; it showed us our place in the universe.

You can observe the night sky anytime, anywhere — for free! Start a habit of looking up at stars whenever you step outside at night.

Part of the Egyptian zodiac from the Temple of Hathor in Dendara, Egypt, built around 50 BCE. It was sculpted and painted onto the temple's ceiling. The body of Nut, the goddess of the sky, lies along the bottom.

Sky-gazing Supplies

If you want to watch a meteor shower or have a sky-gazing party, pack some extra stuff to keep yourself comfortable outside at night.

You might want to bring:

  • water and a snack
  • a sky map or Star Wheel (see chapter 5)
  • a blanket
  • a red flashlight (see Make a Red Flashlight)
  • a regular flashlight
  • bug repellent
  • a pencil
  • your Astronomy Notebook (see Start A Sky Journal)

Or you can just step out onto your fire escape or porch and look up!

For more tips on throwing a star party, see Throw a Star Party.

What's Up There?

No matter how dark or light your sky is, you can always observe the Sun and Moon! And even from a lit-up place like a city or large suburb, you can see the brightest planets, stars, and meteors (flashes of light caused by bits of rock from outer space entering the Earth's atmosphere), and even the International Space Station.

From a darkish place outside the suburbs, you can see most of the constellations (groups of stars that look like a picture). You can also see meteors and human-made satellites. If it's dark enough, you may see a faint trace of the Milky Way, the galaxy we live in. (A galaxy is a huge star system containing gas, dust, and hundreds of billions of stars.)

If you have the chance to visit a place that is very dark at night, like a national park, you will see the Milky Way clearly, with its many stars and dust lanes. Star clusters, nebulae (clouds of gas and dust), and even galaxies may be visible as well.

The word nebula


  • "Packed with fun activities and fascinating facts, Sky Gazing is perfect for sharing with kids or letting them enjoy on their own. By inviting us outside to look up in wonder, Sky Gazing inspires our best defense against the continued growth of light pollution and the loss of natural night: a love for the sky gained by knowing it firsthand. You couldn’t ask for a better guide to that experience than Meg Thacher’s marvelous book."
    — Paul Bogard, author of The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light

    “This title is a bonanza for upper-elementary or middle school independent reading, especially for students with an interest in the sciences.”
    School Library Journal, starred review

On Sale
Oct 13, 2020
Page Count
132 pages

Meg Thacher

Meg Thacher

About the Author

Meg Thacher is the author of Sky Gazing and Cool, Cosmic Tattoo Stars and Planets, a senior laboratory instructor in Smith College’s astronomy department and the academic director for Smith's Summer Science and Engineering Program for high schoolers. A regular contributor to national children’s science magazines, she teaches astronomy workshops for school groups and scout troops. She has a BA in physics from Carleton College and an MS in astrophysics from Iowa State. She lives in western Massachusetts. 

Learn more about this author