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Stargazing 101

September 14, 2010
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Chers Amis,

This year Pippin and I will be devoting a large amount of our science curriculum to Astronomy.  We have done some Astronomy in the past using Exploring Creation With Astronomy by Jeannie Fulbright.  I read this with the girls as well and found it rather lacking. First of all, it is written from a very Creationist perspective which, as the daughter of an astrophysicist and real-life rocket/satellite/telescope  scientist ,is not adequate. It spends nearly the entire book talking about our solar system, the sun, and the moon.  All good and important, but this year we are going to be getting into much meatier topics.  We have already  found some excellent age-appropriate (4th-5th grade) resources on-line that I will try to share.

I do want to draw your attention to the upcoming Great World Wide Star Count. This is a wonderful introduction to stargazing, constellations, reading star charts, star magnitude, and the problems of light pollution.  In short, during the period from October 29-November 12, 2010 students are asked to go outdoors at a specified time and look for the constellation Cygnus the Swan , match their nighttime sky to the magnitude charts provided, and then report their findings. There is a well done activity guide available with all the worksheets, information, and directions necessary.  There is also an on-line quiz students can take to practice their skills.

If you have been wanting to start stargazing, this is so much fun.  Cygnus is easy to find this time of the year, right at the top of the sky above your head.  It includes Deneb, one of the three blazing stars that make up the Summer Triangle .  So click on over the the GWWSC and look at the star charts for Cygnus or here at Earth and Sky and then go outside tonight after dark.  Look straight up at the very top of the sky and you will have no difficulty seeing these constellations.  Let me know if you have any success 🙂

–Marjorie

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