Lesson Plan - Get It!
What do you see when you look up at the sky during the night? There may be more going on than you think!
The night sky is filled with many beautiful features.
When you look up at the night sky, you probably recognize the stars and the moon. In this lesson, you will learn about the many wonders of space you can see right from your backyard. You will explore stars, the moon, constellations, and how scientists view space from Earth. Before you dive into this lesson, make sure you can complete this lesson on a night with a clear sky!
The Earth's moon is the fifth-largest moon in the solar system. This means many other planets have moons, too — some have more than one moon!
You can see the moon at night because it is reflecting the sun's light. It orbits (circles) around Earth and rotates (spins) on its axis. Earth's axis is an imaginary line that runs through the North and South Poll. You can see the different phases of the moon as it orbits around Earth while it spins at the same time. The moon goes through lunar phases.
Phases occur when different parts of the moon reflect light. For example, when there is a full moon, the whole front of the moon is reflecting light from the sun. The way the moon looks in the night sky is based on the moon's location compared to Earth's location. You can see the phases of the moon in the picture below. Ask your parent or teacher to help you read the names of each phase of the moon:
You can see stars during the night, too. Stars are made up of superhot gas. This gas makes them extremely hot and bright. Did you know smaller stars have longer lives than larger stars? Smaller stars last longer because it takes them much longer to burn out than larger stars. Even though stars may look close in the night's sky, the closest star is over twenty-five trillion miles away!
Constellations are groups of stars that look like patterns in space. Animals, people, objects, and mythological creatures are common types of constellations that can be seen in space. There are eighty-eight constellations that can be seen from Earth. The ones that are easiest to spot are the Big Dipper and Little Dipper. These constellations look just like giant spoons in the sky! You can see the Big Dipper pictured below:
Scientists use a tool called a telescope to view different parts of space. A telescope allows scientists to study things that are very far away in space. Telescopes can be small enough to fit in your house or so large that they need a whole observatory built around them! Scientists use the telescopes in observatories to see things that are far away in space. They can use a telescope to view stars, planets, asteroids, comets, meteorites, and even galaxies!
Before moving on to the Got It? section, tell your parent or teacher three things you can spot in the sky at night. In the Got It? section, you will explore comets, meteors, and asteroids.