Have you looked up into the night sky recently? That’s exactly what I’m going to challenge you to do during this stars nature study. I’m Mrs. Cindy from NSNS LIVE and I’m glad you’re joining me for some bite-sized science this week!
Stars Nature Study
When you look into the sky at night, what are some things you see?
When I look into the sky from my home in Kentucky, I can see lots of things! The moon (unless it’s in the new moon phase) and of course, stars. On cloudy nights when the moon is bright, I can often see clouds moving through the night sky, too. I can sometimes see the flashing lights from airplanes flying overhead and I can even see satellites floating through space sometimes.
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Is it a star, planet, airplane, or satellite?
Do you know how to tell the difference between a star and the lights from an airplane or satellite? You can usually tell that something is an airplane if it’s moving through the sky fairly fast and has blinking lights that are white, green, or red. Satellites also move through the sky, but because they are reflecting light from the sun and don’t have lights of their own, they don’t blink.
When you see a twinkling or shimmering light, you’re probably observing a star. Stars are like our sun, but way, way farther away from us. They twinkle, because the light they make travels through our atmosphere and gets pushed this way and that as it goes through different layers of air. By the time the light reaches our eyes, it looks wobbly and gives the illusion that the star twinkles. If you aren’t sure whether you’re observing a twinkle or a blink, watch for movement. Planes move through the sky, while stars stay in the same position.
Surprisingly, you can see some planets in the night sky, too! Like stars, they don’t move through the sky. But, unlike stars, they don’t create their own light. Instead, they reflect light from the sun which makes them look like very still, bright objects in the sky.
Every once in a while, you’ll notice meteors, comets, or asteroids, too. But we’re here to talk about stars, so we need to get moving on that topic.
Do the stars move in the sky?
When you think of the stars, though, I bet you already know that some stars are situated in the sky in positions that are like dot-to-dot pictures. In other words, if you draw imaginary lines between the stars, they look kind of like animals, people, or other objects. Do you happen to remember what these dot-to-dot pictures in the sky are called? Yes, constellations.
Depending on where you are in the world and what season it is, there are different constellations for you to see. Right now, it’s summer and I live in the state of Kentucky in the United States. That means I live in the northern hemisphere of the world.
If you were to look at a globe, which is a ball-shaped map of the world, there is a north pole at the top of the globe and a south pole at the bottom of the globe. If you draw an imaginary line around the middle of the globe in between the north and south poles you have what we call the equator. All the water and land above the equator is called the northern hemisphere and all the land below the equator is called the southern hemisphere.
The stars don’t move in their positions in the sky, but they appear in different places for us during some seasons – or even seem to disappear altogether – because the Earth is positioned differently on its axis at different times of the year.
That’s exciting for us not only because it changes our weather from season to season, but we are likely to see different constellations at different times of the year. That gives us new and exciting constellations to look for all year long!
Looking for constellations is sometimes easy – like when finding the big dipper, for instance. But it takes quite a bit of imagination to picture Leo the Lion in a group of stars that don’t look all that much like a lion even after you trace those imaginary lines in your mind.
If you’re new to finding constellations, I have the coolest suggestion for you. There’s a free app called SkyView Lite that you can open at night and point toward the sky. If there’s a constellation in the area that you are pointing toward, the app will show you the stars and draw the imaginary lines to help you see the picture in the sky. After you view the constellation through the app, it’s much easier to actually see the constellation for yourself in the sky!
P.S. The app also helps you to identify planets!
Nature Study Curriculum
Stars Nature Study Challenge
For your nature walk, I’m going to suggest that you either use the SkyView Lite app or grab a constellation book from the library to help you identify some constellations in the night sky.
You might be able to view stars where you live or you may need to drive to a place where there aren’t so many lights blocking your view. It’s best to choose a clear night so clouds don’t block your view either.
For a little change of pace, pack some black or blue construction paper, a clipboard, and white or yellow crayons/gel pens or even acrylic paints.
Your challenge is to identify at least a couple of constellations in the sky and then draw them as dot-to-dot pictures on your dark paper using white or yellow crayons, pens, or paints.
While you’re at it, use the SkyView Lite app to see if there are any planets in your view and watch for airplanes, satellites, and maybe even shooting stars, too!
Go-Along Nature Study Lessons
We don’t just learn about plant and animal topics in the No Sweat Nature Study Membership. There are lots of earth and space science topics, too! Waiting for you right now in the video library are classes about rocks, minerals, the soil, erosion, landforms, wetlands, oceans, shadows, and much more.
Remember, nature study IS science!
In the membership, 1st-8th graders learn in-depth science and scientific vocabulary while creating a nature journal page that serves as a tool for remembering all the fantabulous information. It might seem strange that 1st-8th graders can learn together and all get something from the lessons, but it’s true! In fact, we often have younger siblings, older teens, and even parents joining in on the fun and finding the classes worthwhile!
I’ll see you next week when we learn about water snakes. Until then, happy nature exploring!
Stars Nature Study Resources
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Would you like to record a voicemail to answer this season’s nature study question?
At the end of each No Sweat Nature Study Podcast episode, Mrs. Cindy includes messages from a few of her friends. You have the opportunity to record a message that she might use on an upcoming episode!
All children must have their parents’ permission before leaving a recording. Parents are welcome to record an answer, too!
Each season, there will be a different question to answer. You can see this season’s question below. Think about your answer first and then follow these simple directions:
- Click the button that says “start recording”.
- Tell me your first name. (If you want to tell your age and/or where you live, feel free to do that, too.)
- You will have 60 seconds to answer the question, but try to be concise.
- Push the play button to listen to your recording before sending it to be sure it is recorded properly. If not, simply record it again.