Listening to the Stars


Although Jocelyn Bell Burnell remained steadfast on her learning path, despite discouragement. Initially, it was suggested that physics would be too difficult. However she progressed to the University of Cambridge to study astronomy. When she learned her sleep would be disturbed by studying the sky at night, Jocelyn elected to specialise in the sounds of the galaxy, during the day.

Thereafter, Jocelyn embarked on a two year construction of a huge radio telescope. It produced repeated sound waves from space. What might a distinct variation in the pattern mean? Although her professors doubted the veracity of this new pattern, Jocelyn Bell traced it to a spinning star, pulsing with beams of radiation. It was a new form of star, a pulsar. Some scientists concluded ‘this was the greatest astronomical discovery of the twentieth century’. 

Thereafter, Jocelyn Bell worked on. She ‘identified the first four neutron stars, ever.’ What’s more, this trailblazing astrophysicist has not let the wealth of awards and recognition distract her pursuit of ‘learning as much as she could about the stars’. Furthermore, she has created a fund for young women who want to study the universe too.

Jodie Parachini and Alexandra Badiu have created a respectful, inspiring and really informative biography of Jocelyn Bell Burnell. Her story is one that should be learned, known and shared, alongside the science that she discovered. Bookwagon is delighted to welcome this US import picture book, aboard.

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Listening to the Stars

Jocelyn Bell Burnell Discovers Pulsars

Jodie Parachini, illustrated by Alexandra Badiu

(Albert Whitman)- hardback

What is the galaxy like? Might it be silent or ‘loud and full of thunderous booms? Soft murmurings, whooshing whispers? Blips and bloops…‘ How could a young Northern Irish girl, discouraged from astronomy, might ‘spend her life Listening to the Stars’. 
Although Jocelyn Bell was raised on a farm with a large family, she sought the Solitude of reading, particularly about ‘stars and galaxies, planets and space’. She excelled in all areas of learning, particularly maths and sciences, determining she wanted a career in astronomy. However, learning that to be a ‘good astronomer’ she would have to ‘be good at staying up late’, she decided to research the sounds of a galaxy.
Thereafter, over two years, Jocelyn Bell constructed a radio telescope. What’s more this machine took four days to scan the sky and return radio waves to a receiver. When Jocelyn received waves different from others, it seemed as though there might be a possibility she’d sourced sounds in space. Despite her professors’ doubt about the veracity of her discovery Jocelyn tracked the sounds to ‘a neutron star‘ that was sending ‘radio waves spiralling through the vacuum of space’.
I knew little of this trailblazer, like Maria Mitchell of What Miss Mitchell Saw. This respectful, inspiring picture book follows the path, work and discoveries of Jocelyn Bell Burnell with precision and wonder. Like Counting on Katherine and other titles about Space Explorers. Listening to the Stars, leaves Bookwagon ‘starstruck’ at the effort, understanding and scope about this subject. Bookwagon recommends this superb information picture book highly.


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