Find the Constellations

Book cover: 'Find the Constellations'
H.A. Rey
Houghton Mifflin
Number of pages: 
72 pages
Grade / Age level: 

I've always loved looking at the stars, but have never been able to identify anything but the big dipper on a starry night. For many years, I've wanted to learn more, but with the busyness of life, this goal has long eluded me. Enter ... Find the Constellations by H.A. Rey. Over the past few weeks, my two oldest children and I have started identifying the constellations with the help of this book and The Stars: A New Way to See Them (by the same author). We've had a great deal of excitement and enthusiasm around 10:00 pm when I summon those children who are still awake to see if we can find anything. With flashlight and books in hand we step outside into the dark. We look up and start to focus. After studying the pictures ahead of time, several constellations start jumping out. We move back and forth between book and sky and the excitement increases. Well, we haven't learned lots yet, but we are now able to identify five or six constellations and are slowly increasing our base knowledge.

This simple book is very child-friendly and moves the reader back and forth between what the stars really look like and simple, memorable stick figures to help keep them (and their names) in our heads. One helpful feature in the carefully drawn charts is the differentiation between brighter and less-bright stars (a very important feature in identification). The book includes some quizzes to help children remember the constellations better and, again, differentiate between the stick-figure drawings and the actual "look" of the constellation. The author also includes: some of the stories behind the naming of the constellations; information about the changes in our sky view at different times of the night and different times of the year; tips for star-gazing; and overviews of the planets in our solar system and tips for viewing them. The book wraps up with some interesting information about what it takes to travel to the moon or to Mars as far as distance, speed and navigation goes. He takes this back to the idea of why it is a good thing to learn the constellations.

All of the information in this book is aimed at viewing the night sky with the naked eye rather than a telescope. There is an extensive index in the back which includes the Latin and Greek names of the constellations (such as Ursa Major and Bootes), but the text uses the English names (except for specific names of stars, such as Vega and Arcturus). The book has been revised numerous times since 1954 and the most recent edition includes location of the planets through 2006. Highly Recommended!

Additional notes: 

revised many times since original publication

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