I have to admit, I know NOTHING about stars, but when we had the chance to review the February Celestial Almanack, I thought it looked like something the girls would enjoy that and that we could all learn about together. This is SUCH a cool product!!!
I had NO idea that 2012 is a year when there will be at least 3 rare sky events.
1) the Jupiter-Venus conjunction on March 15 (once every 24 years);
2) the annular solar eclipse on May 20 (once every 18 years); and
3) the transit of Venus on June 5 (last one til 2117!).
In the message that the author sent us along with the product, he says "I'm absolutely frantic about trying to make sure that every single American, besides homeschoolers, finds out about these events and how to observe them! Thanks for your help in making that happen!" I thought that was soo great, that he feel so passionately about helping others learn about the wonders of the sky.
We have a really short turn-around on this review because Mr. Ryan (the author) wants to get the message out NOW! After all, that Jupiter-Venus conjunction is coming up. And while I'm sure it will be addressed in more detail in the March Almanack, he does include the information in the February edition as well, and suggests watching these two planets, starting NOW so we can see them move closer together as the month progresses and on into March.
So, I received this ebook on January 31. Opened the file to see what it was like, and proceeded to sit and read most of it in one sitting, trying not to brush off the 3 little people who live in my house and seem to think I should do things like feed them and such LOL. A quick glance at the weather report showed a chance of clouds for the next several nights. So since January 31 was clear, we started right away! After dinner I read through the first part of the almanack with the girls and then we headed out to see what we could see. The girls immediately picked out Orion all on their own. They were SOO proud of themselves! Next we looked for Jupiter and Venus but because of clouds, or trees or something, we could only see one of them. I still haven't found the second one, I *think* we're seeing Jupiter, but that's alot easier to determine when I can see them both.
The next night there was some clouds, but it wasn't too bad so we moved on to finding more constellations. We found Canis Major, and I'm pretty sure we saw the brightest star in Taurus (the rest were hiding behind the clouds, or too close to the bright moon).
So, what is this exactly? Well, it's pretty much exactly what it says. It's an "Almanack" telling the specifics of what will be happening in the sky this month. Almost all of what is discussed can be seen with the "naked eye" (this, apparently, is what "classical astronomy" is, have I mentioned that I know nothing about these things?). So that means you can fully use this without going out and buying a telescope or anything. There is at least one page where there are pictures showing what you will see with plain old binoculars, or a simple telescope like some people might have at home, and then also a picture of the same thing taken with the Hubble Telescope. But since it gives the pictures, while, if you have binoculars or a telescope, it would be fun to see for yourself, you don't HAVE to.
This is a product that can be used with any learning style and any teaching style and anyone, NOT just homeschoolers! After all, you can see things in the sky best at night, so being gone all day to school and work and such doesn't matter. There are no lesson plans or anything, this just clearly, and simply explains a TON of information about what we can see if we take the time to look up. And at only $3 this is an awesome deal!! I'm excited to learn, along with my children, about all these amazing things God created that I've never taken the time to really notice. And I've already decided that we'll continue to get these in future months to continue our learning journey. I just noticed that the website lists the ages for this product as being for "Parents, 11-13, and High School", good thing I didn't notice that before I said I wanted to review this LOL. Although I guess I'm a parent, so it still works. Now I do agree that if I were to just hand the Almanack to my (almost) 9 year olds, they would probably be overwhelmed with the sheer volume of information packed into this small book, but as something for us to learn TOGETHER, they are certainly not too young to benefit from it. Even Little Bit (almost 3, but she THINKS she's as old as her sisters) is having fun trying to see the stars we're looking at when we go outside each evening.
So don't wait, you've already missed the first couple days of the month, seriously GO GET YOUR COPY OF THIS!! It's soo awesome!
Some other pertinent information: This is an e-book, it is specific for February 2012, so in that sense it is "consumable" once this month is over, it's going to be a "history" book LOL. In addition to these Almanacks, available from Currclick, you can see more products by the same company on their site: Fourth Day Press. I actually looked at their book, Moonfinder, at the homeschool convention I attended last spring, and considered getting it, now I'm wishing I did, and will probably be adding it to our wishlist for this year's convention :)
I do think it would be cool if the almanacks were offered as a subscription to get the whole year, that way I don't have to remember to go to Currclick at the beginning of each month and order the next one, but for now, I'll try not to complain, hee hee.
If you'd like to see if my fellow Crew mates were as impressed with this product as I was, you can read their reviews here.