Orion, the hunter, is one of the most popular constellations in the night sky; so you may have already seen him this winter or in late fall. Throughout the year, no matter the season, when I am in schools with our Discovery Dome portable planetarium someone often asks me to point out Orion. The mighty hunter is also one of the largest and easiest constellations to find. Most people find it by locating the three stars that make up Orion’s “belt” which is an asterism or recognizable group of stars that are part of a constellation. The names of the three stars that make up Orion’s belt are Alnitak, Alnilam and Minatka. One of the brightest stars in the sky is on Orion’s right shoulder. It’s called Betelgeuse.
Orion’s belt is the only group of three stars that are spaced so evenly making them very easy to recognize. Once you have found the belt, the hunter easily pops into view especially when it is right overhead during the cold evenings of winter.
Besides being easy to spot, the constellation Orion is also where you will find one of the most beautiful objects in the night sky, the Orion Nebula. Count down to the third bright object in Orion’s sword and you will find not a star but the Orion Nebula. With binoculars focused on this object, you will find many stars rather than one.
So the next time you look for Orion in the night sky be sure to also take a look at the third object in his sword for the giant cloud of gas and dust that makes up this birthplace or stars and solar systems.
The Orion Nebula from the Hubble Space Telescope.
Here is a fun simple way for children to make star ornaments for the ” Christmas Tree”! You will need the following supplies to get started!
Pre Cut Star Shapes
Confetti Suggestions: See List Below
Iridescent Metallic Confetti
Sparkling Snow Confetti
Blue & White Snow Flake Confetti
Hole Punch ( Optional)
Place individual stars on newspaper.
Place a hole in top of star for ribbon.
Cover pre cut star shapes with glue.
Sprinkle confetti over glue covered star.
Let star dry.
Once dry hang your stars on your tree!
Our night sky may appear to have stars of the same color. Look closely the next time you view the stars at night. You will notice that some stars are colored. Colored stars help us to determine the temperature of a star. A star can be defined as a natural luminous body visible in the sky especially at night.
Temperature Star Information
Blue White Stars- Hottest
White Stars- Warmer Than Average
Yellow Stars-Average Temperature
Orange Stars-Cooler Than Average
This holiday seasons create a little fun in the kitchen with some cool simple “Star Temperature Cookies”. Please view directions below!
Baked Short Bread or Sugar Cookies
Food Coloring – Red, Yellow, Blue
Place cookies on individual plates.
Mix food coloring with white icing to create the following colors: Red, Yellow, Blue .
Red + White= Red Icing
Yellow + White = Yellow Icing
Blue + White= Blue Icing
Icing cookies to create your simple “Temperature Holiday Star Cookies”!
Eat & Enjoy
Keep Looking Up At The Stars The Holiday Season!
The people over at 360vr have a portion of their site dedicated to a 360 degree high resolution virtual tour of Space Shuttle Discovery. 360VR images are full 360 degree spherical panoramic pictures used in building Virtual Tour products. The 360 degree images are captured using high resolution rotational cameras with ultra wide angle panoramic lenses. This is the next best thing to actually going to see the Space Shuttle Discovery and sitting inside.
The images were shot at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida during its last mission, its final destination now being the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
Click on this link to visit the 360VR Tour of Space Shuttle Discovery: 360 VR Flight Deck
Brandon McConnell has been making some very cool looking spray paint space paintings for quite some time now. Like so many other artists, his artistic journey began by doodling things on paper during the school hours. I’m sure he got in trouble with this from time to time but it did set the ground work for him to win first prize in his High School art contest for his ink and airbrush art. Then one day, during a day trip to Mexico, he came across a street artist doing paintings with spray paint. After buying some of the street artist’s pieces he was able to study them at his home and learn the methods used to create them. The next day he went out, bought some spray paint cans, and started making his own space art.
As you Trick or Treat down your neighborhood streets take a look in the sky to see who you just might meet! As you Trick or Treat! Look up above at the groups of stars in your sky on “Halloween Night” to meet your seasonal constellations. Constellations can be defined as a group of stars that make an imaginary shapes in the night sky. They are usually named after mythological characters, people or animals and objects.
Here are a few characters you can look for:
The Winged Horse Pegasus- Four bright stars that form a square.
Princess Andromeda- Andromeda is connected to ” Pegasus” forming a “V”.
King Cepheus: Stars forming an upside down stick figure house.
Queen Cassiopeia- Stars forming the letter “W” .
HAPPY HALLOWEEN !!!!
Although the Draconid meteors appearance this year probably peaked last night you may get a look at them after sunset tonight. In the evening give your eyes a few minutes to adjust and look towards the constellation Draco just west of the North Star.
Also in the sky tonight is the International Space Station. Here is where and when to look:
Time: Tue Oct 08 7:27 PM cdt
Visible: 5 min
Max Height: 69 degrees
Appears: SW – Disappears: NE
With a clear sky tonight and a max height of 69 degrees the ISS will look like a jewel crossing the heavens. Enjoy.
Boys and Girls have you heard the news! The planet, stars, comets and asteroids are on the move! Stay tune for more fun activities related to our Solar System. In the mean time lets play a game. Use the word bank to complete the following statements! Creat a postcard or wirte a letter about the Solar System and send it to a friend!
See you soon!
Solar System Post Card Game
I am a star!
I am the fastest planet!
I am the hottest planet!
You live on me!
I am the Red Planet!
I am a rock floating between Mars and Jupiter!
I am the largest planet and also home to the” great red spot”!
I have more rings than any other planet!
I am the only planet tipped on my side!
I am the eighth planet from the Sun!
Solar System Word Bank
Mercury Venus Earth Mars Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune Sun Asteroids Comets