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Stars and Planets in the sky

Each activity or resource is labeled by access mode:

Requires computer access
Requires downloading from the Web
$$ Order materials and supplies

Main Topics & Concepts
Motions of objects in the night sky
Observing Planets
This topic touches on California for 8th grade Earth Science Standard 4e.
Science Probe Text
Science Probe I, 14.2 The Stars You See in the Sky
Activity Access Description
SP I activity 14A Stars and Patterns of Stars book Students examine their existing ideas about  the distances to stars compared with the Sun, and create their own constellations.
SP I activity 14B A Beginner's Star Map book Students are supplied with a star map, which they use to locate and label  constellations.  They practice using pointer stars as aids to find other constellations.
SP I activity 14C A More Advanced Star Map book Students enhance their previous map by finding and labeling the zodiacal constellations and speculate on when each would be visible in the northern hemisphere.
SP I activity 14D Observing the Night Sky book Students use their star map to find constellations and stars in the sky and note how their locations correspond to the time. Several students can be assigned to observe the sky at different hours and compare their locations.

Activities & Lessons
Activity Access Description
C-4 Observing a Planet

Universe at Your Fingertips ASP* 

book Students observe constellation maps and identify the "wandering star."  Then they go outside to simulate the motion of planets around the Sun in front of more distant background stars.
F. Star Finding and Constellations

The Universe at Your Fingertips ASP* 

book Eight hands-on activities for grades 6-9
J-1 Making Measurements of Objects in the Sky

Universe at Your Fingertips ASP* 

book Students make a simple astrolabe to measure the changing locations in the sky of the Sun, Moon, and stars.
F. Star Finding and Constellations

More Universe at Your Fingertips

book More hands-on activities.
Find That Planet!



web Students use star maps and an on-line ephemeris generator to  locate planets in relation to constellations.  They test their mapping by observing the planet.

*Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Ordering info $$
**Science Education Gateway for teachers

Resources Access Description
Your Sky

Fourmilab/John Walker

book A program that lets anyone make star charts for any date (historical or future), time, and location. Various options let you control the type of map and how busy it is. You can get the whole visible hemisphere, just areas near your local horizon, or zero in on a particular target.