Our Solar System: Books and Films

All Library locations will be closed on Monday, September 1, in observance of Labor Day.

In fall 2008, a permanent mile-long outdoor exhibit was installed in downtown Kansas City for all to explore. Voyage: A Journey Through the Solar System is built at one ten-billionth the size of the actual solar system and displays three-dimensional model planets, moons, a sun, and even asteroids and comets with storyboards providing information throughout. Starting at 13th and Baltimore, this exhibit underwritten by the Kauffman Foundation runs south through the Crossroads district to Union Station. Learn all about our solar system through these books and films for both adults and kids at the Library.

Our Solar System | Planets | The Sun and Stars | Space Exploration | Asteroids and Comets | Documentary Films | Other Resources

Our Solar System

Lives of the Planets book jacket

Lives of the Planets: A Natural History of the Solar System
By Richard Corfield
A grand overview of the dynamic and endlessly fascinating field of astronomy, Lives of the Planets describes a scientific field in the midst of a revolution.

The New Solar System
Edited by J. Kelly Beatty, Carolyn Collins Petersen, and Andrew Chaikin
As the definitive guide for the armchair astronomer, The New Solar System has established itself as the leading book on planetary science and solar system studies. Incorporating the latest knowledge of the solar system, a distinguished team of researchers, many of them Principal Investigators on NASA missions, explain the solar system with expert ease.

Our Solar System (for kids)
By Seymour Simon
Born almost 5 billion years ago at the edge of the Milky Way galaxy, our solar system is a place filled with mystery and wonder. In the last fifty years, we have learned more than ever about the farthest reaches of our world. With dramatic full-color photographs and spacecraft images, Our Solar System takes young readers on a fascinating tour of the sun, the eight planets, and their moons, plus asteroids, comets, and meteoroids.

Exploring Space (for kids)
By Robin Birch
This book introduces young readers to the planets, the Sun, the Moon, and other objects in space. The kid-friendly diagrams help explain concepts such as constellation patterns, hemispheres, orbits, and phases of the Moon.

Next Stop, Neptune: Experiencing the Solar System (for kids)
By Alvin Jenkins
Astronomer Alvin Jenkins and illustrator Steve Jenkins take readers on an incredible tour of the solar system. Filled with amazing facts about planets, moons, asteroids and everything in between, this book teaches young stargazers everything they need to know.

Planets

The Cambridge Photographic Guide to the Planets book jacket

The Cambridge Photographic Guide to the Planets
By F.W. Taylor
This book includes a broad selection of the latest images of the planets, moons, comets, and asteroids of the Earth's Solar System. Beginning with a comprehensive introduction to the planetary system, its origin and its evolution, physicist Frederick Taylor devotes each chapter to a different planet or Solar System body, with a thorough presentation of its moons and rings, and incorporates images from planetary missions and explanatory captions.

Is Pluto a Planet?: A Historical Journey Through the Solar System
By David A. Weintraub
This volume tells the story of how the meaning of the word "planet" has changed from antiquity to the present day, as new objects in our solar system have been discovered. In lively, thoroughly accessible prose, Weintraub provides the historical, philosophical, and astronomical background that allows readers to decide whether Pluto is indeed a planet.

The Planets
By Dava Sobel
Sobel brings science and history deftly to life as she explores the origins of the planets and reveals the exotic environments that exist in each of these fascinating alien worlds. This book tells the story of each member of our solar family, from their discovery, both mythic and historic, to the latest data from the modern era's robotic space probes and images from the Hubble Space Telescope.

The Planets (for kids)
By Gail Gibbons
This nonfiction picture book, illustrated with watercolors, is an introduction to astronomy and includes descriptions of the sun and all the planets in the solar system.

11 Planets: A New View of the Solar System (for kids)
By David A. Aguilar
Using spectacular computer artwork and simple engaging text, this colorful book profiles all 11 planets in our newly categorized solar system: terrestrial Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars; gas giants Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune; and dwarf planets Pluto, Ceres, and Eris.

The Sun and Stars

The Hundred Greatest Stars book jacket

The Hundred Greatest Stars
By James B. Kaler
There are as many different kinds of stars as there are stars themselves. Each is an individual, every one unique. In this arresting and lavishly illustrated volume, noted astronomy writer and teacher Jim Kaler choose 100 stars to illustrate the mind-boggling variety of the stars' shapes and sizes, their immense ages, and the vast range of configurations in which they exist.

The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the Sun
By Kenneth R. Lang
The Sun is our powerhouse, sustaining life on Earth, energizing our planet, and fueling the engine of life. Its warmth drives our weather, lifting water from the seas, and producing winds that drive clouds over the continents. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the Sun is the fundamental, up-to-date reference source of information about this life-enhancing star, covering everything from basic facts to detailed concepts.

A Walk Through the Heavens: A Guide to Stars and Constellations and Their Legends
By Milton D. Heifetz and Wil Tirion
This book is a beautiful and easy-to-use guide to the constellations of the northern hemisphere. By following the unique simplified maps, readers will be able to easily find and identify the constellations and the stars within them. Ancient myths and legends of the sky are retold, adding to the mystery of the stars. Written for the complete beginner, this practical guide introduces the patterns of the starry skies in a memorable way. No equipment is needed, apart from normal sight and clear skies.

Stars (for kids)
By Seymour Simon
With photographs and illustrations, award-winning science writer Seymour Simon provides up-to-date information about many varieties of stars.

Space Exploration

Spaceflight book jacket

Spaceflight: The Complete Story from Sputnik to Shuttle -- and Beyond
By Giles Sparrow
Published in 2007 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the first space flight, this illustrated book about the history of humans in space covers the fascinating quest for the final frontier, from the first space flight to today's missions and beyond.

Space: A History of Space Exploration in Photographs
By Andrew Chaikin
Written by one of the world’s foremost scientific journalists and space historians, Andrew Chaikin, and with 400 images from all the major space agencies including rare images from Russia, Space is a visually stunning and enlightening book about a pivotal and hugely exciting period in history.

Exploring the Solar System: A History with 22 Activities (for kids)
By Mary Kay Carson
In this illuminating activity book, kids can delve into the rich history of space exploration, where telescopes, satellites, probes, landers, and human missions lead to amazing discoveries.

Space Travelers (for kids)
By Seymour Simon
What's it like to live in space? Explore the amazing feats of space flight, from the earliest satellites and moon landings to the contemporary shuttle and Space Station missions.

Asteroids and Comets

David Levy's Guide to Observing and Discovering Comets book jacket

David Levy's Guide to Observing and Discovering Comets
By David H. Levy
David Levy has held a lifelong passion for comets, and is one of the most successful comet discoverers in history. In this book he describes the observing techniques that have been developed over the years – from visual observations and searching, to photography, through to electronic charge-coupled devices (CCDs). He combines the history of comet hunting with the latest techniques, showing how our understanding of comets has evolved over time.

Asteroids: A History
By Curtis Peebles
This full history on asteroid investigation shows how ideas about the orbiting boulders have evolved, describing how scientists have gradually come to agree that asteroids caused the Moon's craters and dinosaur extinction and that an icy band of asteroids rim the solar system.

Comets (for kids)
By Gregory L. Vogt
Expert science writer Gregory L. Vogt provides the most current information available from NASA about surface features, weather, atmosphere, moons, rings, and other unusual features. Color photographs and illustrations highlight the text.

Asteroids (for kids)
By Isaac Asimov; with revisions and updating by Richard Hantula
This book provides a fascinating mixture of science fact and theory combined with his highly readable prose. The result is a book capable of answering, in an understandable and truly informative way, the multitude of questions children ask when they gaze skyward.

Documentary Films

The Universe, Season 1
This documentary TV series made for the History Channel examines the sun, Mars, Earth, Jupiter, the moon, Mercury, Venus, Saturn, other galaxies, stars, the outer planets, the search for extraterrestrials, and more.

Planets (for kids)
Take a journey through our solar system in this documentary ideal for children.

All About the Sun (for kids)
Kids will learn all about the star at the center of our solar system in this documentary.

All About the Planets (for kids)
This documentary for children discusses the planets of our solar system and provides important statistics for each one.

Other Resources

NASA
Find information about and photos of our solar system, space flight, aeronautics, and much more.

Our Solar System - National Geographic
Explore and learn from this interactive site about our solar system.

Visible Earth
View images and animations of our home planet from NASA.

Google Sky
View the planets, constellations, and even distant galaxies with this interactive website.

Book descriptions provided by BookLetters.