Starry Starry Night
Overview of This Strand
- This strand enables teachers with no scientific background
to teach a course in introductory stargazing during the day,
even though no stars are visible. It is also an excellent
introduction to stargazing for anyone with a beginner's
interest in this subject.
- The first five activities have been developed with ages 9 to 11 in mind.
five activities are progressively more challenging and are intended
for an older age group.
- However, appropriate parts of
these activities can be used with students of all ages. With a group
of five-year-olds you may chose to focus on just recognising the Big
Dipper or the Southern Cross, while a group of adults will eagerly
devour all nine activities.
- As you begin this strand the
essential concept to communicate to the students is that you are
going to teach them stargazing, but there is a catch
cant see the stars during the day.
- Your students will learn how to
find stars by themselves at night. To do this, they will
learn to use a star wheel.
- The steps are:
- Learn to find north, south,
east, west from landmarks using a street map.
Learn to find north/south from the
Make a star wheel.
Learn to find stars using the star
wheel on charts and on the computer screen.
Find the stars in the night sky.
- Things you might discuss with
the students as a warm up to this strand:
- Why cant we go stargazing
during the day?
What happens to the stars during the
Why cant we see stars during
What can we see in the sky during
What stars and constellations can
Why cant you stargaze every
- Some of these questions are
answered in the Science Background Knowledge section, below.
Why dont we see stars
during the day?
- This is actually a trick
question. The Sun is a star and we can see it during the day.
However, during the day we cannot see any other stars. Although we
cannot see them they are in the sky all the same. Light from those
stars is reaching your eyes even in the daytime. The reason you
cannot see them is that the sky is lit up by the Sun. There is more
light coming from the sky than coming from the stars.
- Did you know?
During a total eclipse of the Sun the sky goes black and stars
appear during the day.
What shines brighter than the daytime
- There are only three celestial
bodies that are brighter than the light of the daytime sky. They are
the Sun, the Moon, and Venus. Because they are brighter than the sky
they can be seen during the day. (Venus can be a little hard to find
during the day, but it is quite visible at times when it is some distance
from the sun, provided you know exactly where to look.
Always look from in the shade
and never attempt to find Venus during the day with binoculars
do so would be to risk instant blindness to both eyes. See
Planet Hit List to find out where Venus is in the sky.)
- So there is one daytime star,
one daytime moon, and one daytime planet. The blue sky outshines all
- Did you know?
Occasionally other celestial bodies burst through the blue sky. In
1054 AD a star in the constellation of Taurus exploded in a
supernova explosion. At its brightest it outshone Venus and could be
seen during the day for several weeks. It is now called the Crab
Nebula and is so faint that it can be seen only in telescopes. In
January 1910 a comet appeared that was so bright it could be seen
during the day. This comet came to be known as the Daylight Comet.
It was not Halleys Comet, but it appeared, coincidentally,
just a few weeks before Halleys Comet and is sometimes
confused with it. Another comet or supernova could break through at
any time, but dont hold your breath.
URL http://www.AstronomyInYourHands.com/activities/ssnoverview.html Publication date 6 Nov 2002
Copyright © C J Hilder, 2002. All rights reserved.