Tag: Astronomy activities for kids (Page 2 of 3)

What’s Happening in Astronomy This Month

November is packed with great opportunities to learn more about astronomy.

Event 1. Parts of northern Australia will be experiencing a solar eclipse, on November 14, 2012 (their time), which is roughly 5:00 p.m. EST November 13 in the U.S.

This video from NASA shows why astronomers are traveling to Australia for the eclipse. It is an unique opportunity to study the inner corona of the sun.

The excitement generated by an eclipse is often a good time to introduce age-specific information about the sun and our solar system.

From the comments on the first video, it seemed like there were a lot of misunderstanding about solar eclipses. I looked up this second video that is helpful in explaining why solar eclipses don’t happen all the time.

Event 2. Meteor showers

Two meteor showers have potential in November. The Northern Taurid shower peaks aound midnight on Monday November 12, 2012 and the annual Leonid meteor shower is due to appear on November 17, 2012.

Looking for a deeper involvement? NASA also has an extensive list of citizen science projects. Some, like the Rock Around the World, are definitely child-friendly.

A new children’s book:

National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Space (First Big Books) by Catherine D. Hughes and illustrated by David A. Aguilar

Weekend Science Fun: Astronomy in the News

This weekend astronomy is in the news, with several events to spike a child’s interest.

1. Mars Rover Curiosity is landing on Mars on Sunday, August 5, 2012.

Why is this rover newsworthy? Curiosity is bigger than the previous rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, and is landing in a more difficult location. It is also carrying a lot of more sophisticated equipment, including, believe it or not, ovens to bake soil and rock samples. Part of Curiosity’s mission is to look for carbon, the element that is an important building block for living things. If all goes well, it could be exploring and sending back data for a couple of years.

See live reports of the Mars Rover landing tomorrow night at the Jet Propulsion Lab

NASA also has information and updates

If your children are excited about Mars and the rovers, there are several wonderful children’s books to find out more:

The Mighty Mars Rovers: The Incredible Adventures of Spirit and Opportunity (Scientists in the Field Series) by Elizabeth Rusch  -released June 19, 2012

Middle-grade level

Cars on Mars: Roving the Red Planet by Alexandra Siy

Middle-grade level

You Are the First Kid on Mars
by Patrick O’Brien
This picture book really stretches the definition of nonfiction, because it details an imaginary trip to Mars. The scientific details and photorealistic illustrations are what make it credible.

They all seem to have Mars red covers.

2. The Perseid Meteor Shower

Towards the middle of August will be an opportunity to view the annual Perseid meteor shower. Although it has already started, astronomers are predicting the nights of August 11, 12 and 13, 2012 will have the best viewing because that is when the brightness of the moon will interfere the least.

The Perseids are usually the easiest meteor shower to view because it is still warm out at night. No need for coats and heavy blankets.

1. Try to find a place that is fully dark for best viewing. Porch and street lights can fade out the meteors, preventing sightings.
2. Remind your children there may be several minutes between sightings. In the wee hours of the morning it can be hard to be patient.
3. Blankets and lawn chairs that allow for viewing in a prone position help prevent neck strain.


EarthSky has more viewing information

Tonight’s Sky has a longer video that reveals other stars and constellations to be on the look out for.

Two full moons in one month? Cool!

3. Hands-on Astronomy Activities

The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) website has two Astronomy lessons with hands on activities

The lessons are over multiple pages that sometimes don’t have obvious links between, so check the sidebars and under the title of each page for the links to the next page. Let me know if you have difficulty navigating and I’ll add all the links here.

Let us know if you have any other favorite Astronomy websites.

Globe Astronomy Home Science Project

What fun, another science at home project. This one is called GLOBE at Night, and investigates the amount of light pollution around the globe. All you need to do is locate the constellation Orion and record what you see. Measurements are to be taken between March 3 -March 16, 2010. Go to the website for instructions and information packets.

Even if you don’t want to participate, check out the way the constellation Orion appears to us under different “magnitudes.” According to the site, magnitude is how astronomers describe the brightness of an object.

While you are at it, compare what you see to this view of Orion from the Hubble Telescope (Image from NASA Images).


What magnitude is the view in your area?

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