Star Date – November 2008

galaxies-601015_640-640x300Moon & Planets—Jupiter and Venus, the two brightest planets in the night sky, are the centers of attention this month. November opens with Jupiter high above the west-southwest horizon after sunset. Brighter Venus hovers much lower in the southwest. Watch all month long as these two celestial bodies move closer to each other. By the end of November, they are only two degrees apart as they form a wide pair in the evening twilight. Look for the young crescent moon as it passes these planets in early and late November. The moon is to the left of Venus on November 1 and, by the 3rd, is below Jupiter. The crescent moon returns on the 30th and can be seen to the lower right of the now-Jupiter/Venus pair. Saturn adorns the morning sky as it rises a few hours before dawn. The waning moon is next to Saturn on the 21st.

Constellations—The lengthening fall nights reveal three seasons of stars. The Summer Triangle still can be seen high in the west in the early evening sky. One of its members, Deneb, is nearly circumpolar as seen from the U.P. and therefore is visible most of the night as it heads toward the northwest horizon. The expanse of sky to the south is filled with the fainter fall constellations of Aquarius, Pisces and Cetus. Very low in the due south is another fall water constellation, Piscis Austrinus—the Southern Fish. It contains the lone first-magnitude star in the fall sky, Fomalhaut. Up in the east is the winter constellation of Taurus, with its reddish first magnitude star, Aldebaran. Look for the three bright stars of the belt of Orion as they rise one after another along the eastern horizon.
—Craig Linde

Courtesy of the Marquette Astronomical Society, which meets four times a year. The next meeting is at 7:00 p.m. on December 19 at Shiras Planetarium. Visit www.geocities.com/sstobbelaar/mqtastro.html or www.skymaps.com for details.

Watch evokes mine memories
The crystal of the Westclox Pocket Ben is gone and the water-stained face is soiled red by iron ore, but the timepiece carried by Thomas J. Kirby, Sr. during his final shift at the ill-fated Barnes-Hecker Mine recalls a tragedy that shook the Marquette Iron Range eighty-two years ago this month.
At 11:20 a.m. on Wednesday, November 3, 1926, the mine near Ishpeming caved in when unsuspecting miners set off a blast that ripped open an underground lake. Fifty-one mine workers died. Just one survived—racing 800 feet up a ladder in ten minutes, with surging water tugging at his boots much of the way.
In just fifteen minutes—the time it took for the mine to fill with sand and water—132 children lost their fathers and forty-two wives became widows. Cut off from the surface 1,000 feet above them, Kirby and six others raced in pitch darkness toward their only avenue of escape, but they were quickly overtaken by a violent flood of mud, rocks and water. Their bodies and those of just three other victims, including twenty-four-year-old Tom Kirby, Jr., were the only ones recovered. The Pocket Ben was found in Kirby’s pocket and returned to his widow, Anna.
Thomas Kirby, Sr.’s granddaughters, DeeAnn Truscott of Ishpeming and Doreen Britton, of Marquette, recently donated the family heirloom to the Michigan Iron Industry Museum in Negaunee.
The gift of such a poignant artifact could not have come at a better time. As part of its “Forging Our Future” capital campaign, the museum is expanding its facilities and exhibits to tell more stories of the state’s rich iron mining heritage.
The Barnes-Hecker disaster claimed multiple victims from several families. Kirby and two other mine workers, Edwin Chapman and Peter Carlyon, shared the fatal mine shift with their sons.
At age fifty-nine, the elder Kirby was a veteran miner and well-known musician in the City of Ishpeming. Newlywed Thomas Kirby, Jr. was married just seven weeks before losing his life in the mine cave-in. The body of Thomas Kirby, Jr. was recovered from the mine four days later.
—Tom Friggens

8-18 Media book reviews for kids by kids

Elsewhere by: Gabrielle Zevin
Published by: Douglas & McIntyre, 276 Pages

“Night after night, Liz goes to sleep, but she never wakes up in Medford; time passes, but she doesn’t know how much. Despite a thorough search of the boat, neither she nor Thandi can unearth a single calendar, television, telephone, computer or even radio. The only thing Liz knows for sure is that she is no longer bald—a quarter inch of her hair covers her entire head. How long, she wonders, does hair take to grow? How long does a dream have to last before it’s just life?”
When we first meet Liz, she is on the boat to the luxurious island of Elsewhere, a place so like Earth, it is hard to believe that the people and animals there are all dead.
There are some unmistakable differences, though, such as how the people of Elsewhere age backward from the day they died and how humans can learn to speak the language of dogs, Canine.
Although Elsewhere has wide open landscapes and beaches literally “to die for,” Liz is not happy living with a grandmother she has only just met, nor is she happy she will never turn sixteen, never graduate from college, never get her driver license and never fall in love.
At first, it seems Liz can never be happy again, but when she begins to let go of what was lost, and begins to grasp what she has gained, Liz learns that maybe life lived after death is just as good as life lived back on earth.
Elsewhere is a captivating novel about life and death, love and heartbreak, and the unanswered question, “What happens when you die?” As you read Liz’s story, you will love the characters and depth of the story. Anyone from the age of twelve (for slightly mature language and subjects) to one hundred will be sucked into the marvels of Zevin’s captivating novel.
—Jessica Goodwin, 12.

Books reviewed are from the new book section of the children and teen areas at PWPL.

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