Exploring ''Odyssey'' -- A look at the astronomy and space exploration magazine for kids

Does the moon make fish take the bait? When is the best time to see shooting stars? What keeps the earth and the other planets from floating away? For kids who want to know the answers to such starry-eyed questions, a good place to look is Odyssey, an astronomy and space exploration magazine, ages 8 to 14.

In a recent issue, Odyssey looked at the night sky through the eyes of African storytellers: ”In Africa, very few things are wasted. Clothing is not discarded because of a few snags. Even the Sun’s blanket is old and full of holes. When he covers himself with his blanket at night, tiny points of sunlight shine through the holes. These, of course, are the stars.”

The magazine also reported on how astronauts take showers in space (water doesn’t go down the drain but floats, or collects in huge puddles on the body) and safe ways to look at an eclipse (never directly). Using charts, photos, and contests, the magazine encourages its 75,000 readers to engage in some informed stargazing.

Senior editor Nancy Mack, who has been with Odyssey since its 1979 debut, says that the Waukesha, Wis.-based magazine was conceived ”back when Star Wars was very big.” Reader curiosity and interest in space have remained high. The magazine’s contests, which get hundreds of responses, have challenged kids to design travel posters for other planets, devise dopey captions for old NASA photos, and write science fiction stories. Coming soon: articles about the 61 moons that orbit the nine planets, a proposal to use Antarctica as a test site for exploration bases that could be built on the moon and Mars, and instructions on how to make your own version of the solar system in a shoe box.