The Astronomical World of Harry Potter: Part 3 – Dumbledore and Fenrir

the astronomical world of harry potter

In the past two blog postings we uncovered how some characters in the Harry Potter universe are tied to Greek, Roman, and Norse mythology.  Not only are certain names shared, but the stories between the character and the myth from which its name is derived are actually intertwined.  In the first blog posting we dealt mainly with two of Harry’s classmates:  Draco and Luna.  In the second blog posting we looked at two members of the family Black:  Sirius and Bellatrix.  Now it is time we took a closer look at one of Harry Potter’s fiercest enemies and one of his fiercest allies:  Fenrir Greyback and Albus Dumbledore.

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The Astronomical World of Harry Potter: Part 2 – Sirius and Bellatrix

the astronomical world of harry potter

In the previous blog posting we discussed how many of the characters in the Harry Potter series have connections to ancient mythology and how these myths worked their way into the books’ story-lines. Numerous characters in the series also share their names with moons, asteroids, and stars.  For this entry let’s look into two characters and the two stars they are named after:  Sirius and Bellatrix.

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National Astronomy Day – April 25

national astronomy day

This upcoming April 25th will be Astronomy Day.  It is an annual event in the United States that promotes interaction between the general public and the various astronomy based organizations, enthusiasts, groups, and professionals.  Baton Rouge has several events planned to celebrate this day including the participation of the Louisiana Art & Science Museum and the Highland Road Park Observatory.

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Partial Solar Eclipse This Thursday

Partial solar eclipse

In the evening hours of this Thursday October 23, 2014 a partial solar eclipse will be visible here in Baton Rouge, weather permitting.  A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes directly between the Earth and Sun, thereby totally or partly obscuring the image of the Sun for a viewer on Earth.  On Thursday, the center of the Moon’s shadow will miss the Earth, but a partial eclipse will be visible before sunset across most of North America.  If you want to see a total eclipse you’ll have to wait a few more years.

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It’s Time to Look for Orion, the Mighty Hunter

ImageOrion, 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.
Credit: NASA


Star Christmas Ornaments



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!



Simple Temperature Star Cookies For The Holidays!!


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

Red Stars-Coolest

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

White Icing


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!

Take a 360 Degree Virtual Tour of Space Shuttle Discovery


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

Make Your Own Spray Paint Space Painting In One Minute!

1 minute space painting by Brandon McConnell

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.

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