Publisher's Note:  

Winner of the 2009 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Children’s Literature Award.

How do we know that Mars is covered in rusty dust, that a day on Venus lasts longer than its year, and that Neptune has 13 moons? Human exploration! Exploring the Solar System relates the rich history of space exploration using telescopes, satellites, probes, landers, and human missions. This book has been updated to include the recent discovery of Eris, which, along with Pluto, has been newly classified as a "dwarf planet" by the International Astronomical Union. In addition to history, this book contains 22 hands-on projects to explore the planets and other celestial bodies from right here on earth. Exploring the Solar System also includes biographies of 20 space pioneers, details of specific missions, a time line, and a 20-page Field Guide to the Solar System with detailed scientific data on each of our celestial neighbors and the historic missions to visit them.

Download the free teaching guide.

Exploring the Solar System: A History with 22 Activities

by Mary Kay Carson

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Overall Review:  

 A lively introduction to the solar system, beginning with the ideas of primitive star gazers and continuing up through Ptolemy, Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, and on to the modern world.


The book details the space race and discusses each planet. The earlier edition I read included Pluto—not yet demoted from its planet status at the time of publication. The book also describes comets, space probes and future space missions.


With wonderful pictures on every pages, interesting sidebars, and fun and inexpensive activities, this book will interest every space enthusiast and astronomer!


The activities described in the book include watching satellites in the night sky—even the International Space Station; making 3-D glasses to look at pictures from Mars; and trying to "work like an astronaut"—trying to manipulate objects while wearing bulky clothing and gloves.


This book is set up to be sampled at any point rather than read straight through. The pictures, side bars and captions invite the reader to drop in on early astronomers, on each planet, and on the space missions.

Reading Level: 8.5, range 7.3-9.3.

Also good for reluctant readers.

Of interest to boys and girls.

This review has been acquired and adapted from


Content Analysis:  

 This review was acquired from on May 15, 2014 and was not completed using Compass Book Ratings’ standardized checklist.  Nevertheless, it contains useful content information which is included here.  The overall number ratings have been approximated based on this information.


Matter-of-fact descriptions of space exploration accidents.


Picture of plaque on the Pioneer spacecrafts showing nude male and female figures. 

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Reviewed By CleanTeenReads
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