Updated: Mar 28, 2021
Be an Astronomer! Name Your Own Constellations
ages 3 - 10
The night sky is full of wonder and sometimes finding out the names to everything ruins the mystery. For this activity, simply lay outside and look up at the stars. Look for shapes and give them your own names! Can you draw out your constellations when you get back inside? See if you can find them again tomorrow night!
Make a Constellation Viewer
ages 6 - 12 (with adult help)
an empty cardboard cylinder (ex. pringles, oatmeal, mailing tube)
tracing paper or a light piece of paper
a large nail
hammer (if you are using a metal can)
sky map or other constellation guide
optional: paper, glue, stickers to decorate the outside of the viewer
a large permanent marker
Remove the lid on one end of the can
Trace around the outside end of the can on a piece of tracing paper (you should have a circle that is the size of the can)
Find a diagram of a constellation online or in a book
Hold the tracing paper up to the diagram and mark where the dots are in pencil
Flip the paper over so that you are looking at the reverse of the constellation and place on the closed end of the can
Using a nail, poke holes through the tracing paper and the can (you will have to do this with a hammer if you are using a can this is not made of cardboard)
Reach down into the can and color the bottom black (if the can is too long, you can skip this step)
Color the outside of the end of the can black as well
Optional: decorate the outside of the constellation viewer with cut paper, markers, stickers, etc
To view the constellation, face a window or light source and hold the viewer up to your eye
Keep a Sky Journal
ages 8 - adult
Each night for a week, head out and observe the night sky. Takes notes and drawings of what you see and observe the changes throughout the week. Above is an example of how I lay out my sky journal.
On a note page, draw a circle and label north at the top, south at the bottom, east on the left and west on the right (this will make sense when you hold the notebook above your head as you are looking at the sky).
Head outside and observe the sky. Where is the moon? What phase is the moon? What constellations do you see? Do you see any star clusters or other features?
Draw in some of the features you observed into your sky circle.
Draw the moon phase.
Mark the date and time.
Notice how the sky changes throughout the week and at different times of the night.
ages 16 - adult
While viewing the night sky, you may notice bats flying around. Some of my favorite memories from when I was little were watching bats swoop and dive at dusk with my grandfather. They are nothing to be afraid of, in fact, they help to control the mosquito population! Bat populations around the country are in decline due to White Nose Syndrome and monitoring populations is now more important than ever. You can help! If you know of a local summer bat colony, use the data form on this website to count the bats at the exit the roost during dusk.
bat colony count site form (can be found on https://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/surveys/bats.html)
bat colony count data form (can be found on https://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/surveys/bats.html)
Read this form to understand how to do the count https://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/surveys/documents/summer-bat-count-methods.pdf
Find a local bat colony
Visit the colony at dusk in mid-July when the weather is fair
Follow the directions on this page to conduct the count https://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/surveys/documents/summer-bat-count-methods.pdf
Submit the data to the address on the form