A Cool Idea for Learning About Constellations

By flashlight or daylight, this supercool tool for learning about constellations will turn your kid into a night-sky whiz.

Star Power

Boy holding constellation viewer Photograph by Allie Cottrill

With their awesomely strange names -- we're talking to you, Cassiopeia! -- and back stories spun from myth and legend, constellations are a stellar way to spark an interest in astronomy. This simple viewer lets your child see "stars" by day (by peering through a cardboard tube) or at night (by using a flashlight to project formations on a wall). Make it to use this winter, then, come spring, head outdoors together and get starry-eyed for real.

    Make It:

    1. Cut ten 1 1/2-inch-wide circles from colored paper, and 1 black paper circle to cover the bottom of a 10 1/2-inch paper plate. Glue the circles in place as shown.

    2. Using our template below as a guide, draw the constellations with white pencil.

    3. On a stack of newspapers, pierce a hole at each star with a pushpin.

    4. With a marker, write the constellation names. Add paper shapes or stickers as desired.

      Use it by Day:

      In a bright room, place one end of a cardboard or paper tube over a constellation circle, hold the tube and plate up to the light, and peer through the two to see the formation.

        Use it by Night:

        In a darkened room, hold a flashlight in front of a constellation circle to project the formation onto the wall.

        The Skills it Builds: astronomy, cultural history, and observation