WHAT TO SAY
Groupings of stars or constellations have been important to us since the days of the caveman. Through the ages people looking up at the night sky have created wonderful stories called myths to help explain the “pictures?that groupings of stars created. These “pictures?were named for objects, animals or people which they resembled and are still used to help identify these same star clusters as we see them today.
Some of the most easily recognizable constellations are:
Ursa Major - The Big Dipper / The Great Bear
Ursa Minor - The Little Dipper/ The Little Bear
Orion - The Great Hunter
Virgo - The Maiden
Leo - The Lion
WHAT TO DOMake a Mini PlanetariumWHAT YOU NEED
- 1 18.5oz NESTLÉ HOT COCOA MIX canister
- 1 large sheet of dark blue construction paper
- Constellation template
- 1 package of star stickers (available at craft stores)
- Glue stick
- Safety scissors
- Cellophane tape
- Hammer (parents only)
- 1 thin finishing nail (parents only, available at hardware stores)
- Paint pen
- 1/2 yard black cloth
HOW TO DO IT
- Clean a 18.5 oz. NESTLÉ HOT COCOA MIX canister.
- Cut a piece of dark blue construction paper to measure 12 1/2 by 5 1/2 inches.
- Wrap the construction paper around the canister and glue in place.
- Decorate the outside of the canister with the star stickers.
- Print out the constellation template. (Note: the constellations appear backwards so that they will project out onto the ceiling correctly).
- Cut out one of the constellation circles and tape it to the outside bottom of the canister.
- (Parents Only) Use a hammer and a thin finishing nail to punch a hole through each dot on the template into the bottom of the canister. Remove the paper.
- Write the name of the constellation on the outside of the canister with a paint pen.
- Take the finished Mini Planetarium, a flashlight, and a piece of black cloth into a dark room.
- Insert the flashlight up into the Mini Planetarium and wrap the black cloth around your child’s arm, covering the open end of the canister.
- Point the Mini Planetarium up to the dark ceiling, turn on the flashlight and see the constellation as it appears in the night sky!
Now that you’ve learned something about the constellations, take your family on an evening picnic to view the real thing. WHAT YOU NEED
- A clear night
- A blanket large enough for everyone to sit on
- Lawn chairs and pillows
- Star Maps (available at book stores or on line at www.mystarslive.com)
- Flashlight with interchangeable color filters ?use the red filter
- Binoculars (optional)
- Picnic dinner (pack your family favorites or go to www.meals.com for great picnic ideas.
- Thermos of NESTLÉ HOT COCOA
HOW TO DO IT
- Pick an open area to stargaze. Ideally, it should be far enough away from the city lights to see the maximum amount of stars.
- Check on the time of sunset in your area and plan to arrive at your stargazing site with enough time to enjoy your picnic before it gets dark and the “show?begins.
- With everyone fed (save a snack or dessert and NESTLÉ HOT COCOA to enjoy while stargazing), arrange the beach chairs and pillows (for the little ones) on the blanket so that everyone has a good view of the night sky.
- Have one or two star maps handy to help with constellation identification.
- Red filtered flashlights will help you and your kids read the star maps and find snacks in the picnic basket without disturbing the darkness of the night sky.
- After you have picked out as many constellations as you can, have fun with your kids creating your own, imaginary constellations just like the people of ancient times did years ago!
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- If you don’t have a flashlight with a red filter, use several thickness of pink Saran Wrap? Place the layers over the lens of the flashlight and secure with a rubber band or masking tape.