School Shows

Constellations Tonight

Constellations Tonight

Images of the constellations circling the North Pole

Originally produced by the Holt Planetarium
Lawrence Hall of Science
Berkeley, California
Adapted for the Kalamazoo Valley Museum

Detailed Description:
As the sun sets, the moon and stars are revealed drifting until the night sky matches its appearance at 10:00 PM. Students are asked to search for a familiar pattern in the sky, the Big Dipper. After the dipper is located, some of the ways it has been interpreted in other lands is discussed, ending with the Greek representation of a Great Bear. Students are asked to offer opinions on why Greek stargazers made up the constellations. After the students identify the uses of constellations for direction finding, time keeping, and storytelling, they are asked to identify the best star for navigation, the North Star.

After the North Star is located, and the cardinal directions are found, the star maps can be used. The need for and preparation of a red flashlight is discussed, then the process of using a star map to find constellations is described. Students are asked to select a constellation from three groups, seasonal constellations, zodiacal constellations, and circumpolar constellations. As constellations are located by students, background information and tricks for finding the constellations are described, and sometimes the constellation's story is told.

After the third constellation is identified, the sky darkens even more, and three 'favorite' constellations of the season are presented. Each of these constellations contains a faint object easily visible in binoculars. The nature of these objects, and their significance is described. Finally, the stars drive through the remainder of the night. Any planets in the evening or morning sky are identified, and the sun rises to conclude the program.

Related Files:
Seasonal Star Maps PDF

Related Internet Sites:
Heavens-Above