Universe Cycle - Universe (1)
Post Lab 

   
OBJECTIVES:
  • Exploring the meaning of stars.
  • Discovering constellations in the night sky.
VOCABULARY:
  • constellation
  • galaxy
  • star
MATERIALS:

Students explore the patterns of stars.


BACKGROUND:

Students have learned that stars make their own energy, which is how they produce light. Although the stars are still in the sky during the day, the light of the Sun prevents us from seeing them. Only on a clear night can we see the stars. Cloud cover can also prevent the light from the stars from reaching our eyes.

The stars are long distances from us on Earth. Large, far away stars seem smaller than they really are. Our Solar System is in a grouping of stars called the Milky Way Galaxy. Most of the stars we see at night are from the Milky Way.

However, it is often difficult to tell a star from the Milky Way from another galaxy in the sky. Far away galaxies may also appear as single points of light.

Early people grouped many of the bright objects in the sky as constellations. A constellation is a group of stars that, viewed from Earth, appear to form a regular pattern. There are 88 recognized constellations. Many are associated with myths. Constellations are fun, and help us locate stars and galaxies in the sky. However, they are not a scientific grouping, because they are mixtures of stars and galaxies, that may be near or far objects.

PROCEDURE:
  1. Play the Constellations song with your students.  Use the pictures in the animation so students can visualize how they group stars.. The ancients saw bulls, twins, people, and many other images. Use the constellation books to increase the imagery of your students. 

  2. You may want to find out the Zodiac signs that each student was born under. The zodiac constellations serve as reference points to astronomers when investigating the Universe. However to astrologers, the zodiac constellations, as well as the motions of the planets, were signs believed to influence the behavior and lives of people (i.e., finances, relationships, moods, friendships). There is no scientific basis for these interpretations, but they help students remember some of the constellations.    

    AQUARIUS The Water Bearer people are born between January 21 to February 19. 
    PISCES The Fish people are born between February 20 to March 20.
    ARIES The Ram people are born between March 21 to April 20. 
    TAURUS The Bull people are born between April 21 to May 21. 
    GEMINI The Twins people are born between May 22 to June 21. 
    CANCER The Crab people are born between June 22 to July 22. 
    LEO The Lion people are born between July 23 to August 23. 
    VIRGO The Virgin people are born between August 24 to September 22. 
    LIBRA The Balance people are born between September 23 to October 23. 
    SCORPIO The Scorpion people are born between October 24 to November 22.
    SAGITTARIUS The Archer people are born between November 23 to December 21. 
    CAPRICORN The Goat people are born between December 22 to January 20. 

      
  3. There are several websites that you can use to simulate the night time sky. The following are sites that we recommend.
      
    http://oposite.stsci.edu/pubinfo/Anim.html 
    Animations of planets and galaxies. The home site also contains many, Hubble Space Telescope pictures.
      
    http://www.nationalgeographic.com/features/97/stars/ 
    "Star Journey" - a National Geographic site which includes star charts of the night time sky.
      
    http://www.astro.wisc.edu/~dolan/constellations/ 
    The constellations and their stars. Includes interactive sky charts and pictures of stars and galaxies.

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