Constellations: Pictures in the Sky

Contributor: Rebecca Highland. Lesson ID: 12923

Have you ever seen animals or shapes in the clouds? At night, you can join stargazers from thousands of years ago who saw figures in the stars! You can even turn your ceiling into the night sky!


Space Science and Astronomy

learning style
Kinesthetic, Visual
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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  • Have you ever played connect the dots?

Look at the image below.

  • What will the animal be once you connect the dots?

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It was a snail!

  • Did you know that you can connect the dots in the night sky as well?

It's true! People have been doing this with the stars for thousands of years!

  • What do you see in the stars below?

stars forming a little dipper in the night sky

You may already know a few constellations, like the Little Dipper in the photo above.

People can easily find it and the Big Dipper in the night sky.

  • Have you ever seen them?

Constellations are stars you can connect to make pictures in the sky. Since ancient times, astronomers have looked at the stars and connected them into meaningful pictures.

These pictures were used to tell myths and stories, and they were also used to help astronomers find their position in the solar system. Today, astronomers think that constellations were invented around three thousand years ago.

Our sky is made up of 88 constellations in total. Depending on the earth's position, different stars are hidden from the earth’s view. Since the earth spins on its axis and rotates around the sun, we face different directions depending on the time of year.

Constellations helped astronomers figure out the earth’s rotation patterns.

Check out Stellarium Web Online Star Map and see if you recognize any of the constellations.

Use your mouse to click on stars to see how they connect. You can also scroll to zoom in and out to see how the sky changes.

Then, watch these videos to learn more about constellations!

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Continue to the Got It? section to turn your ceiling into the night sky!

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