Light up learning with these glowing constellation jars
Discovery Place Science
Constellations are groupings of stars that form patterns that are easily recognizable. Humans have named the constellations after what they look like or, in other cases, after a mythological figure. Previously, we showed you how to make constellations using dot art. Today, we are back to making constellations again, and these will glow in the dark!
You can see different constellations at different times of the year and at different locations on Earth. This is because as the Earth revolves around the sun, we are exposed to different stars at night. Even so, there are specific constellations that you will always be able to see. These are called circumpolar constellations.
In the Northern Hemisphere those are Ursa Major (the Big Bear), Ursa Minor (The Little Bear), Draco (the Dragon), Cepheus (a king of Ethiopia) and Cassiopeia (a queen who boasted about her beauty). In the Southern Hemisphere the circumpolar constellations are Carina (the keel of a ship), Centaurus (the half-man, half-horse creature from Greek mythology) and Crux (the Southern Cross).
Most people in modern times do not often get to see stars and constellations due to light pollution from the city around them. This quick and simple craft lets you bring the stars and constellations that most fascinate you into your bedroom at night.
This activity is best suited for students in elementary school. It includes about five minutes of preparation time and about 15 minutes of activity and learning time.
- Mason jar
- Aluminum foil
- 1 LED tea light
- Piece of cardboard a little bigger than your foil sheet
1. Lay the foil on a piece of cardboard.
2. Decide what constellations you want to use.
3. Use your pencil to poke holes in the foil to represent the stars in the shape of your chosen constellations. Be sure to place your cardboard underneath to protect surfaces.
4. Take the lid off the mason jar.
5. Carefully wrap the foil around the mason jar and tape the beginning and the end of the foil together with clear tape.
6. Turn on the LED tea light and gently place it in the mason jar.
7. Return the lid to the jar and screw it on.
8. Turn off the lights to see the constellations you have created!
For younger learners, consider providing them with print outs of constellations and let them press or trace the constellations through the paper onto the foil. For older learners, encourage them to replicate what constellations they may see in the night sky on a particular date and then research the stories behind the constellations.