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Constellations in a canister

You will need:

  • 6 black film canisters (photo lab)
  • One nail or wooden skewer
  • Paper and sticky tape or glue



  1. Print the pictures shown or make your own on paper.
  2. Cut each picture out and stick it onto the bottom of the film canister.
  3. Pierce the middle each dot with the skewer/nail.
  4. Look through the film canister without the lid to see the stars!
    Be Amazing Book Front Cover; Ben Newsome, teacher & founder of Fizzics Education. Be Amazing -how to teach science the way primary kids love

    Be Amazing!
    How to teach science, the way primary kids love

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Dot patterns needed for the constellation activity
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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 to name just a few.

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

Three steps...

1) Have a look up tonight and find Crux (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.

2) 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.

3) 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.

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