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Wake Up To Goodnight Oppy

Wake Up to Goodnight Oppy

A documentary film review BY PAT BURNS

Growing up in the sixties, space exploration had nearly everyone’s attention.  I remember how the entire world froze as we held our breath while Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the moon. Fast forward fifty+ years and we have a new global phenomenon – life on the planet Mars and it begins with two robots. The robots’ names are Opportunity and Spirit.

Goodnight Oppy is a captivating documentary that is part funny and part tearjerker. The story transports the audience on the exploratory journey of placing rovers on Mars and their hunt for signs of water and the dedicated team that made it happen. Recounting the out-of-this-world story of what was supposed to be a 90-day mission that turned into a15-year journey is both captivating and surprisingly sentimental. It’s easy to forget the film is actually about two robots.

Watching the film with three of my grandchildren, it was a perfect opportunity to use the story for life lessons. For example, what does it take to manifest a (nearly impossible) dream? The way large number of people with diverse backgrounds played a significant role. Another noteworthy opportunity for discussion was the many meanings for all sorts of families.

Using both original archival footages shot at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in the 2000’s and current interviews, was a fun and exciting way to grasp the vision and organization required to achieve this massive mission.

Goodnight Oppy is directed by the Emmy-nominated Ryan Heffington in collaboration with Steven Spielberg’s production company, Amblin Partners. 1:45 minutes

Available on Amazon Prime.

Here are some enjoyable children’s books to spark your grandchildren’s interest in space:

  • My First Space Words in English and Spanish by Zaida Hernandez, a Latina space engineer (picture book)Introduce your little ones to their first space words in both English and Spanish!Space, telescopes, missions, and UFOs – welcome to your first glossary space words!Zaida Hernandez, a Latina space engineer, introduces little ones to their first space words in English and Spanish, from professions and animals to transportation and planets. Her in-depth knowledge of the world’s inner workings and scientific accomplishments is brought to life by Jayri Gómez, a Dominican Republic artist who colorfully reimagines space as we know it.Parents will love this educational bilingual English-Spanish board book due to its bridging of two languages to explore space words, but also in how it will aid children in understanding the universe.
  • Little Leonardo’s Fascinating World of Astronomy
  •  By Sarafina Nance (early reader)

Join author Sarafina Nance, a real-life astrophysicist and one of Forbes magazine “30 inspirational women,” as she guides you through 22 fascinating pages of fun facts all about the universe. Get lost in captivating illustrations and text about that big wide-open space above us. Did you know that everything you can see, touch, taste, and smell is actually just a teeny tiny part of the Universe? Or that even though Earth has only 1 moon, Jupiter has 79 and Saturn has 82? Or did you know that there is a planet that’s made of diamond? Little Leonardo’s Fascinating World of Astronomy joins the Little Leonardo Fascinating World of series, illustrated by Greg Paprocki.

Companion book to the Little Leonardo Fascinating World of series featuring basic concepts about what astronomers do and all things space.

It’s been fifty years since Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon. But the journey didn’t begin when he stepped on board Apollo 11 that fateful day in July 1969. It began the day he was born.

This picture book is Buzz Aldrin’s story, in his words. Wendell Minor’s gorgeous paintings evoke the wonder of space exploration for young readers.

Becoming an astronaut took more than education, discipline, and physical strength. It took years of determination and believing that any goal was possible—from riding a bike alone across the George Washington Bridge at age ten to making a footprint on the moon.

Meet Resilience, a Mars rover determined to live up to his name.

Res was built to explore Mars. He was not built to have human emotions. But as he learns new things from the NASA scientists who assemble him, he begins to develop human-like feelings. Maybe there’s a problem with his programming….

Human emotions or not, launch day comes, and Res blasts off to Mars, accompanied by a friendly drone helicopter named Fly. But Res quickly discovers that Mars is a dangerous place filled with dust storms and giant cliffs. As he navigates Mars’s difficult landscape, Res is tested in ways that go beyond space exploration.

As millions of people back on Earth follow his progress, will Res have the determination, courage—and resilience—to succeed… and survive?

Supplemental enhancement PDF accompanies the audiobook.

  • Rocket Science: A Beginner’s Guide to the Fundamentals of Spaceflight by Andrew Rader (Teen)  Earth’s gravity keeps our feet on the ground, and also prevents us from soaring into space. So how do we explore that vast frontier? We use rockets! Discover how rockets work—from staging to orbits to power generation, from thermal control to navigation and more. Learn how rockets and other spacecraft travel to and explore the moon, Mars, Jupiter, and beyond. Speculate about the future of space exploration—and the possibility of extraterrestrial life. In a guide ideal for aspiring rocket engineers, planetary scientists, and others who love learning about space exploration, Galen Frazer’s distinctive yet accessible illustrations pair perfectly with Andrew Rader’s straightforward text, together taking readers to the edge of our knowledge of space travel.



Pat Burns is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Orange County Children’s Book Festival; a Celebrity Journalist, Film Reporter, the author of Grandparents Rock®. Also, a happy grandmother of four.

Read more from Pat here 

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Pat Burns

About the author

Pat Burns is the co-founder of the Orange County Children's Book Festival, a celebrity journalist, film reviewer and a consultant for nonprofits

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