Constellations in a Canister science experiment : Fizzics Education


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Constellations in a Canister

Constellations in a Canister

Follow FizzicsEd 150 Science Experiments:

You will need:

  • Six small black film canister, you can often pick these up for free!
  • One Nail or a wooden Skewer
  • Bicarbonate Soda
  • Paper
  • Stick tape or glue


Materials needed for constellations in a canister
1 6 constellations represented by dots on a page

Print the pictures shown or make your own on paper.
Click on the image above

2 IMG_20180917_130706

Cut each picture out and stick it onto the bottom of the film canister.

3 IMG_20180917_131146

Pierce the middle each dot with the skewer/nail.

4 IMG_20180917_131411

Look through the film canister without the lid to see the stars!

5 Balls and water flying out of a metal bin
6 Teacher showing how to do an experiment outside to a group of kids.

Online courses for teachers & parents

– Help students learn how science really works

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Why Does This Happen?

Constellations are a group of stars and/or galaxies that astronomers use to map the sky. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) currently lists 88 constellations in the night, breaking up the sky into specific areas.

People are generally most familiar with the Zodiac, being those 13 constellations that lie on the ecliptic (the path that sun appears to travel through the sky). Yes, there is an extra constellation in the Zodiac on top of the well-known astrology constellations known as Ophiuchus.

Different cultures have depicted the constellations in different ways.

The IAU bases most of the constellations on the ancient Greek symbols. However, there are different stories and legends from many cultures including the Aztecs, Aborigines and American Indians; just to name just a few.

How can you find south using a constellation in the Southern Hemisphere?

Three steps…

  • Have a look up tonight and find Crux, also known as ‘The Southern Cross.’ Draw an imaginary line from the top of the cross, through the bottom of the cross and keep going downwards towards the horizon.
  • Look to the west and you will see two bright stars called the Pointers. Draw an imaginary line between these two stars. Find the mid-point between the Pointers on this line and then draw a perpendicular line towards the horizon.
  • Where the line from Crux meets the line from the Pointers draw an imaginary line straight down to the horizon. You’ve found the direction for the South Celestial Pole.


Templates to print

Constellations in a cannister

Learn more!

From sunspots and asteroids to black holes & supernovae, the Stars & Planets and the Earth, Sun & Moon workshops have your unit on space covered!
Get in touch with FizzicsEd to find out how we can work with your class.


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