Setting the stage for a day (& night) of learning & star gazing!
Now that you know what we’ll be doing today (and tonight), let’s get started! What exactly is a star? A star is an astronomical object consisting of a luminous spheroid of plasma held together by its own gravity. Wow, now that is a definition! Let’s watch a video that will hopefully put it into words we understand 🙂
What are Stars?– Primary & Intermediate (K-5)
Stars: Crash Course Astronomy #26– (Grades 6 & above)
“Mom! I can’t see!”
How many times have you heard that? Or said that? Even though the stars are super bright and shine for millions and millions of miles, there are a lot that we simply can’t see. In science we use microscopes and magnifying glasses to help us see small things up close. When we are talking about space, we use telescopes to help us see far away. Just like there are lots of kinds of microscopes and magnifying glasses– some we may have at home or use at school and camp and then some “really good ones” that scientists use– it’s the same thing with telescopes. One of the most famous and most successful telescopes is The Hubble Space Telescope. This space observatory is actually circling our planet! It was taken up into space by a space shuttle in April 1990. This year is Hubbles 30th birthday!! It circles our planet every 96 minutes. To date, it has travelled over 3 million miles! Hubble has sent back a hugs amount of scientific data and incredibly detailed images of every type of object in the sky. It makes it possible for us to see things that we didn’t even know existed! Power for the observatory is provided by two large solar panels and Fine Guidance Sensors are used to lock onto guide stars to ensure high pointing accuracy. It’s also the only telescope designed to be able to be fixed by astronauts while still in space! That way, when something is broken or an old part needs replacing, they can easily repair it without having to worrying about getting it back to earth and then back to space again.
NASA has an amazing website dedicated to The Hubble Telescope. It has endless facts and data, as well as thousands of pictures taken by Hubble. There are even online activities and a special search engine that will let you enter your birthdate to show you a picture Hubble captured on that date! Click here to go to NASA’s Hubble Website. (This website is great for all ages, but younger kiddos will need help navigating and reading. Moms and dads, you’ll be amazed as well!)
What to see the largest image of the Andromeda Galaxy ever captured? It totals 1.5 billion pixels and requires 4.3 gigabytes of disk space! It was released in January 2015. Watch the video below to see the photo turn in to an interactive experience!
Look at all the stars!
I’m sure there’s been times when you’ve looked up at the sky and thought, “Wow, look at all those stars!” You’ve learned all about them in the videos above. But besides just shining all alone up there, stars “join together” to form constellations. Constellations are imaginary boundaries made that connect stars to form imaginary pictures. These pictures have been the basis of stories, poems and songs for thousands of years.
Constellations: Connect the Dots in the Sky!– Primary (K-3)
Super Stars (Constellations): Crash Course Kids #31.1– Intermediate (Grades 4 & above)
Experiment Time: Time to go Star Gazing!
Just like you saw in my intro video…. not every night is good for star gazing. If it’s too cloudy, you won’t see anything. You need to wait for a very clear night. Its’ also best if you can be away from street lamps and other light sources. You’ll need to check with mom and dad so they can let you know when the conditions are right to see the most stars! When you go out to look at the stars, there is a lot to look at and try to find. It might seem overwhelming, but there are a lot of resources to use. First, we’re giving you a simple star scavenger hunt to use. Click here to go to the resource. (The resource was created by Kristen Rabideau and found at www.reallifeathome.com)
Another tool you can use is your Smart phone, because guess what? “There’s an App for that!” Here’s a link to a list of free astronomy apps for both iPhones & Android. Ask mom or dad to help you find the best one and to let them download it for you.
We hope that you have a great time star gazing, whether it’s tonight or later this week!