Shoebox Planetarium or Constellation Viewer

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Inside the Shoebox – Viewing The Constellation Scorpius

Materials

  • Detailed Instructions (pdf)
  • Constellations (one set using the front pages only) (pdf)
    • these will be used for the viewer
  • Constellation cards (photocopied front to back) (pdf)
    • cut these apart as a reference to help you identify the constellations
    • paperclip and keep inside the shoebox for storage
  • Large Paper Clips
  • Index Cards
  • Glue Sticks
  • Scissors
  • Metal Math Compass
  • Foam or Cork Board
  • Shoebox
  • Black construction paper
  • Duct Tape
  • Stickers

Steps 1 & 2: Cut out constellations and glue each to an index card, and then to a piece of black construction paper. Triple layering will make the cards more sturdy and let less light through. Using a metal math compass, poke a hole for every star in the constellation, using the foam board or cork as your backing.

20150526_140837Steps 3 & 4: Make an opening on one end of the shoebox slightly smaller than an index card. Trim the cards to fit inside  of your shoebox and line up the stars to make sure none are blocked. Use 2 paper clips to keep in place.

2015-05-26 14.16.4220150526_141005Steps 5 & 6: Make an opening on the opposite side of the shoebox so you can see inside the box. Put the lid on and decorate with duct tape. Change the cards to practice identifying the constellations. How many can you find in the night sky?

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Constellations (Star Lab) page added

Image Source: Star Lab
Image Source: Star Lab

I created a page of resources for stars, constellations, and myths to use with our Star Lab experience. You can also find information on Star Lab rentals and training. In NJ, Raritan Valley Community College offers workshops in the Summer and Fall.

We spend four sessions in the Star Lab:

  • Day One – Intro to the Star Lab – Using the Dippers & Cassiopeia to find your way
  • Day Two – Perseus & Fall Constellations
  • Day Three – Orion & Winter Constellation
  • Day Four – Summer/Spring Constellation & wrap up

Constellations (Star Lab) Page – (link)

Make Your Own Planisphere (Star Wheel)

Planisphere Supplies
Planisphere Supplies

I have my 6th graders make and decorate their own planispheres for our astronomy unit. It is a quick and inexpensive way to provide planispheres for all of your students, and you don’t have to worry about running out or ordering ahead/enough for each class. When it comes time to lining up the Star Wheel and inserting the brass brad, I do that part for the students so that it lines up correctly. Students will come up to my desk when they are ready and I assembly it for them pretty quickly.

Materials:

  • Manilla folder
  • Scissors
  • Brass brad
  • Glue stick
  • Star Wheel Holder (pdf)
    • Additional Star Holders & Wheels (link)
  • Star Wheel – laminated
  • Metal Math Compass

Directions:

  1. Fold the template along the (horizontal) dotted line
  2. Glue the template to the manilla folder
    • the folded template wraps around the folded edge of the folder
  3. Cut out the shape of the template
  4. Cut out the window – be careful not to cut both layers
    • I use the toilet seat and toilet lid analogy 😉
  5. Cut out the star wheel
  6. Insert the star wheel into the star wheel holder
  7. Find Polaris
  8. Center the Star Wheel, and with the pointed end of the compass, make a hole through Polaris and the back of the manilla folder
    • Be sure that the wheel can spin freely
  9. Insert metal brad & fasten
  10. Enjoy your new planisphere!

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Additional Resources:

  • Using a planisphere worksheet (pdf)
  • How to use a planisphere (video)

 

The Heavens Playlist – Using Spotify

As an introduction to our Space Unit, we created a playlist with songs that mentioned stars, comets, the moon, and other celestial features in the lyrics. Each student submitted a song and then created a ppt slide with 2-4 lines of lyrics and images related to that song. We printed out the ppt slides and created a fun space themed bulletin board. Below is one that I created as an example. (“Talking to the Moon” by Bruno Mars)

Talking to the Moon (1)

To keep track of the songs in the playlist, I created a shared Google Doc and students submitted their songs on a first come, first served basis over a time period of 2 weeks. No two students in the same class could use the same song. I used Spotify to make the playlist and whenever the students were working independently or in groups, we had the playlist playing in the background.

One of the students chose this classic song by Ernie: