Make a Mini Flashlight Planetarium
A constellation is a group of stars that create something that looks like a picture in the night sky. If you were to connect these stars with lines, it would create an image that looks like a man or woman, an animal, or some other object.
People first started finding and naming constellations in the ancient Middle East, continuing with the Greeks. Today, there are 88 official constellations that astronomers recognize. Some examples include Orion, Leo the Lion, Hercules, and Taurus the Bull.
The constellations that we can see change throughout the year because the Earth’s position changes as it orbits around the sun, allowing us to see certain constellations at certain times a year.
- Black craft foam sheet - 3 x 3 square - 1 of this item per student
- Flashlight (the larger and brighter the better) - 1 per student
- Scissors - 1 per student
- Hole punches, sharp pencils or similar
Trace around the top of your flashlight onto a piece of black craft foam. Cut out the circle. Cut out as many circles as number of constellations you want to make.
On a piece of paper, design your own constellations using dot-to-dot patterns, or practice drawing some of the existing constellations. You can find information on constellations at http://spaceplace.nasa.gov (search for "starfinder").
Now use a sharpie to mark the stars of your constellation onto a circle of black foam. Use a hole punch, Phillips head screwdriver, sharp pencil or similar to punch out each of the stars.
Hold the foam circle up to the end of the flashlight (you may want to tape in place) and shine onto the walls of a dark room.
This is a great activity to do in conjunction with the Constellation Finder activity: http://curiosityzone.wpengine.com/earth-space/make-a-constellation-finder-2/