In My Mind's Sky
About the Activity
Various cultures throughout the world have been using astronomy for thousands of years. Studying star maps and charts from ancient societies helps us discover how they lived, what they believed, and how they perceived themselves and their place in the world around them.
In this activity, kids will learn about the role of astronomy in different cultures throughout history. They will also design their own constellations. This activity requires access to an outdoor space.
Courtesy of Utah State University
- Take a good look at the different star charts and the stories behind them on the downloadable PDF that accompanies this activity to understand the role stars, planets, and other celestial objects play in cultures around the world.
- At nighttime, if possible, go outside and look at the night sky. Try to identify any of the constellations based on the images you saw in the guide. If you can’t see so many stars, talk about why that is – the concept of light pollution – and consider downloading a constellation app on a smartphone that lets you see the constellations.
- Now that you’re familiar with constellations, take a blank copy of the star chart from the guide and draw your own constellation.
- Think about how your constellation could be used by a previous culture (navigation, agriculture, etc.) and come up with a short story to explain your constellation.
- Next, go outside at nighttime again and try to find all or part of your constellation in the sky.
Bonus Fun: Take a pair of binoculars and look at the night sky. How is it different to look at the sky with binoculars versus without them?
Questions for your kids and teens.
- How did different cultures use astronomy in the past, and what does that tell us about those cultures?
- Is understanding what you see in the night sky a useful skill? Why or why not?
- Do you feel a sense of connectedness or wonder when you look at the night sky?
- What types of jobs use astronomy today?
- What types of tools do astronomers use to help them study the sky?
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