Star Gazing

Part of Space Week

The weather has been very clear recently with very little cloud cover at night which means chilly nights, but it also means we can get a lovely clear view of the stars and the planets.

Most people live in towns and cities where it is hard to see the stars with the light pollution - being able to visit what is called a “Dark Sky” area is a wonderful thing to be able to do.

You can still do some star gazing and planet spotting from your window or garden, but you do need to wait until it is quite dark to do this so you may need to ask to stay up late one evening at the weekend.

There are lots of apps for your phone and tablet that shows you where everything is in the sky, but being able to spot them yourself and point them out to your friends and family is quite cool. There are different things to see in the sky depending on the time of year - as we know, it is Spring time at the moment so we are going to see what that brings.

If you are going out in the dark and want to keep notes as you go you will need a torch - this can spoil your dark sky vision - see if you can find a small piece of red cellophane from an old wrapper or something this will help to reduce the glare.

Get started by looking out for the Plough - this can be seen clearly all year round. It looks a bit like a saucepan. See if you can draw this from memory when you go back into the house. If you watch over a period of an hour or more (or go inside and back out later), you will notice that the Plough appears to move. It moves gradually, very slowly. As the Earth turns the stars in the sky appear to move and they appear to move around a single point - the single point is of course Polaris.

On the opposite side of The Plough you may see Cassiopeia, and of course, there is always Polaris - commonly known as the North Star.

Polaris just happens to be in a location directly above the Earth’s North Pole. If you imagine the Earths axis extended into deep space, it would point directly at Polaris. Think about a spinning bicycle wheel. The tyre moves fast but the axle at the centre remains unmoved.

Once you have spotted your first stars how about having a look at the Moon - the next super moon is 7th May - but you can still have a good look and see if you can draw the lumps and bumps on the Moon’s surface. You will be better to use binoculars if you have some or could maybe borrow a pair and see what you can observe.

Follow our activity to give it a go!

Don’t forget to have a go at one of the moon activities too!

Imagine what it would have been like to walk on the moon - what an adventure!

Night Sky Worksheet

This page is part of the Space Week information.

If you have enjoyed these activities please share them with your friends and family.