Oh Starry Night!

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For as long as humans have looked up at the night sky, they have wondered, 

"What are those tiny lights in the sky?"  

"How far away are those lights?"  

"Why do those lights seem to move across the night sky?"  

"Do those lights mean anything to my life?"  

You know from your study of astronomy that the stars do not move, we do! You also know that what you see in the night sky depends on the date and time.  You can imagine the tough job NASA, the National Aeronautic and Space Agency, has keeping up-to-date student- created sky maps, so they have issued a call for help.

Calling all skygazers!  NASA needs your help creating sky maps of the night time sky in your region.



The NASA Kids Club has just announced a need for sky maps from every area of the United States.  As you know, what you see in the night sky depends on your location on Earth; it also depends on the date and time of your observation.  You will need to create a star map of the night sky from your location in space.  The maps will be forwarded to NASA where they will be displayed in the online Art Gallery.  People from all over the world could see your map, so be sure to do your best work!


After you research information about constellations and planets that can be seen from your location, you will use your knowledge to create a sky map with the following elements: 
Use an atlas or globe to record the latitude and longitude of your observation site.
Note the date and time(s) of your observation.
Indicate the Cardinal points  on your drawing.
Clearly label constellations and planets.

To see an example of a sky map, click here.


The following scoring tools will be used to assess both the process of gathering information and your finished product:

Note-taking Rubric - html; Note-taking rubric - Word

Sky Map Rubric - html; Sky Map Rubric - Word



Essential Question:  How does our position in space change the way we perceive other celestial bodies? 

Subsidiary questions

What constellations and planets can I see in the night sky in Maryland?
How does my position on earth change what I can see in the night sky?
How does the date and time of my observation affect what I can see in the night sky?
Why is it important to study the night sky?
Where else in Maryland might I expect to gain a better view of the night sky? 
Does the movement of constellations and planets have any meaning for my life?

Gather and Sort

Gather information about from a variety of sources.

Sort your research findings using this graphic organizer. Be sure to avoid plagiarism and keep track of your resources for a bibliography.


Analyze your completed graphic organizer.

Synthesize your findings by answering the following questions using a BCR format.

What new insights about why people throughout time have been fascinated by the night sky have emerged as a result of your research?
Which facts did you find the most interesting and why?
Create your sky map showing the constellations and planets that can be seen in Maryland's night sky.

Evaluate the effectiveness of your research for the task.

Have you gathered sufficient details about the constellations and planets that can be observed in Maryland's night sky to create your sky map?
Is your research reflected in the story?



Reflection and/or Extension Activities:  Why do you think that for thousands of years people saw events in the night sky as an omen of things to come?  If you could travel back in time, what would you tell an Ancient Greek who was worried by the appearance of a meteor in the sky?

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Last update: July, 2003
Created by Sharon Grimes

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