Gift Ideas: Popular Astronomy Books

Credit: Ballantine Books

If you are looking for another gift idea for the holidays, maybe you should consider one of the many popular astronomy books. Here are the 10 most popular from Goodreads:

  1. Cosmos, by Carl Sagan
  2. A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking
  3. Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, by Carl Sagan
  4. The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, by Carl Sagan
  5. The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory, by Brian Greene
  6. The Universe in a Nutshell, by Stephen Hawking
  7. A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson
  8. The Grand Design, by Stephen Hawking
  9. Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium, by Carl Sagan
  10. Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries, by Neil deGrasse Tyson 

It’s great to see that Carl Sagan is still educating the public so many years after his death. As with the Voyager spacecraft, his words and contributions are traveling far and wide.

Gift Ideas: Glowing Stars, Planets, and Moons

Image: Sample Moon lamp.

If you are looking for a fun gift that will encourage kids to learn more about the universe around them, then you cannot go wrong with a nightlight that illustrates the beauty of the nighttime objects above us. For instance, the Moon lamp shown above (there are many others like it on Amazon and elsewhere) allows an up-close view of this amazing orb. As with the Earth globes of old, seeing a world in three-dimensions and being able to touch it assists with understanding. Besides, in the case of the Moon, a youngster looking out the bedroom window will only see one side of the Moon, whereas the lamp provides the entire surface.

You can find similar lamps and nightlights showing Mars, Jupiter, and even the Milky Way (see below).

Or why not simply project the constellations onto the bedroom ceiling so kids can learn about the night sky even when it is cloudy outside? There is nothing like a personal planetarium.

Mind you, these gifts are not only for children, but it’s a good place to start. I may yet get one of those Moon lamps for my desk. Why should the kids have all the fun?

Image: Sample Milkyway lit orb.
Image: Sample constellation projector.

Gift Ideas: Lego Lunar Research Base

Image (Credit): Lego Lunar Research Base playset. (Lego)

While we await the Artemis III crew landing on the Moon and related lunar base, you might want to create your own mission with the Lego Lunar Research Base (shown above), which has “NASA-inspired” details. The playset has almost 800 Lego pieces, so you can build it yourself (to NASA specs, of course).

The playset comes with a “… lunar lander, VIPER rover and a domed accommodation module with laboratories, garage and air lock, plus 6 astronaut minifigures. I’m assuming the rocket that gets the astronaut minifigures to the Moon is sold separately.

And below is the Lego International Space Station is you are looking for something more traditional (and less expensive).

It’s great to see that Lego is allowing kids to build their own space missions at home.

Image (Credit): Lego International Space Station playset. (Lego)

Some of you may have played with Star Wars and Star Trek sets as kids, but at least these latest Lego set have a ring of credibility. Star Wars helped you destroy the galaxy, whereas Star Trek seemed more interest in exploration and at least had the veneer of Artemis CXXV.

I checked on whether Chinese and Russian kids with have their own space playsets and found the Russian Roscosmos Soyuz MS spacecraft (still a concept) and China’s Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center (made by a Lego copycat), both shown below.

Image (Credit): Lego version of the Russian Roscosmos Soyuz MS spacecraft. (Lego Ideas)
Image (Credit): Sembo Blocks version of the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. (

The Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center playset comes with a Long March 2F rocket and an authentic warning sign stating, “Those stealing secrets will be caught, once they’re caught they will be killed [decapitated].”

Maybe even reality is not always the best model for play.

Extra: You can find more Lego space models at the NASA gift shop.