12 Days of Christmas – Activity 4: Star Gazing

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12 Days of Christmas – Activity 4: Star Gazing

With December comes the month of the winter solstice. The exact moment of the solstice occurs on December 22, where the sun is at its southernmost point, meaning it is the day where we receive the shortest amount of sunlight all year.

Did you know the word solstice literally means “sun standing still?” At the moment of the winter solstice, the path of the sun in the sky over the past six months has reached its furthest southern position and begins to turn northward. Cool, eh?

How does our view of the night sky change through the year?

In one day alone, the stars do not appear to have changed very much, but as the seasons change, the curling tail of Scorpius and the stars of the Summer Triangle are replaced with the winter constellations of Orion and Canis Major. Not sure what these stars are, or want to learn more? Click here.

Stars that are closely above or below the poles, such as the stars of the Big Dipper, remain visible throughout the year.

Make your own Tin Can Planetarium

Make your own planetarium and shine it on your wall or tent to reach for the stars right at home!

What you’ll need:

  • Empty tin can with the top removed (Be careful of sharp edges!)
  • Sheet of paper
  • Pen or pencil
  • Scissors
  • Hammer
  • Tape
  • Small nail
  • Flashlight

Instructions:

Place the can upright on a sheet of paper and trace around the bottom edge of the can.

Trace the stars that make up your favourite constellation within the circle on the paper.  Use Andy’s Night Sky Guide to see what some look like.

Use the scissors to cut the circle out.

Turn the can upside down and tape the circle to the bottom of the can.

Use the hammer and nail to poke holes through the paper and right through the can at each star on your drawing.

Place your flashlight inside the open end of the can. Turn it on and shine it on your tent or bedroom wall. There’s your constellation right before your eyes!

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