Did you know there are 88 constellations? I sure didn’t! I was shocked. I looked at this webpage on Seasky.org and was totally surprised.
Since my recent post about how you could let students help pick their own studies, I decided that I may add some ‘unit’ suggestions from time to time. I love stars, constellations, and sky watching; so I thought I’d see what I could dig up for a month study to do.
Then I found this that explains why there are 88 constellations! Very interesting to me. Of course it wouldn’t be very interesting to the normal 7 or 8 year old though.
Here is a listing of 15 constellations that ‘everyone’ should know and how to find them.
Here’s another page with some introductory info about the main constellations.
Here’s some basic information aimed at younger ones about constellations and what they are: https://www.ducksters.com/science/physics/constellations.php
My Night Sky
Astronomy.com has what is called a stardome (which is powered by Noctuasky.com, so you can go there too) and with it you can see what the sky will look like from major cities. BTW, they have an app too, so you can access it while you are outside. I entered Tulsa to find that tonight at 6:30 tonight, I can see Venus and Mercury in the Western sky. I can also click on View in the dropdown menu and check constellation names and lines, to help identify some of those.
Interested in understanding how to read a star chart? Here’s some instruction on that, and they reference the skydome.
So, this is how I’d approach a study on stars:
- Take children outside after dark (best during the winter, even though it is cold, because it is dark earlier and can see the stars without having to stay up too late) and have them look up.
Do you live in a well lit area? Talk about that and how the lights are hindering you from seeing more of the stars.
Go someplace less populated/lit to better see the stars and note the difference.
- Talk about constellations and name have each child pick one more popular/well known constellation to look up and figure out how to find it in the night sky.
- I’d probably keep Ursa Major/Big Dipper as something you want to point out, as it is the most important because with it you can navigate.
- The next week talk about some lesser known constellations and have each one select one to look up, as with the popular one.
- Talk about why some constellations are not viewable now and pick some to view at another time of year.
- Meteor Showers!!!! This is one of the most fun things to do. Have the older kids research this and pick one for you all to watch.
- Talk about the what stars are–again another thing older students can research
- What are some Biblical references to stars?
I definitely recommend a laser like the one mentioned in this post for your night sky viewing–it’s sooooo cool.
- You could also do some study on the moon and its phases–even journaling it by drawing what the moon looks like each night, and when it became visible.
- Don’t forget the planets. Like I mentioned, Venus and Mercury are both visible in my night sky tonight. I may just have to go outside after dinner and see if I can find them.
There is so much you can do with this but I think this is enough of a jumping off point or enough to touch the topic to see if there is any more interest. Remember not to overwhelm your children with this, just keep it light and simple–the idea is to cultivate their love of learning, or spark it again, if need be.
I hope this is helpful to you. Please let me know in the comments if it is or if you try it and what your experience was with it.
Until next time, God bless,