Celebrate Earth Hour tonight! Turn off your lights for one hour, from 8:30 to 9:30 PM local time, and show your support for our planet.
While your lights are turned off, we suggest taking advantage of the darkness and going outside to admire our beautiful night sky!
Learn what you can look for in tonight’s sky from PEEC educator Elizabeth Watts. Plus, check out her tips for having a fun family star party at home. Read today’s blog post here.
Build a tasty version of your favorite spring constellation with marshmallows and toothpicks! If you don’t have marshmallows, use chunks of apple or playdough.
Use a this list of spring constellations to pick out a constellation to make. Then, use this sky map to help you find it in the night sky this evening. What other constellations are nearby? Try out storytelling and create a story to connect the neighboring spring constellations.
Have you noticed any change in the days lately? No, I’m not talking about missing school or working from home! The days are getting longer. Last week was the spring equinox, and now we have more daylight than darkness.
This is a great time of year to start studying the sky. The sun sets earlier than in the summertime so kids don’t have to stay up so late. We are also lucky to live in a part of the country with dark skies, which allow us to see great things up above, even from our own backyards. Let’s explore what we can learn from looking at the sky.
As we all spend more time at home, one thing to observe is the phase of the moon. Tuesday, March 24, was the new moon. A new moon occurs when the moon is nearly in front of the sun. We aren’t able to see the moon at this phase because the sun is so bright. Every day for the next few weeks, the moon should look a little bit bigger. It will also be a little farther away from the sun, until we see a full moon, which occurs when the moon is opposite the sun. The full moon rises just as the sun sets. But until that time, we will see the moon in the sky during the day.
This is a great time to start a moon phase calendar. Every day, sketch what the phase of the moon is. You can use PEEC’s template, or you can draw your own. Try to notice a pattern. How long does it take to get to the full moon? How long does it take to get back to a new moon? Is the moon in the same position in the sky every day?
Have you noticed a bright star in the west in the past few months? If not, take a look! This bright light is actually not a star, but the planet Venus. It is the third brightest object in our sky, after the sun and the moon. Venus is very similar in size to Earth, but the thick atmosphere of Venus makes that planet the hottest in our solar system. Check out some information about Venus from NASA here.
Another thing that is changing with spring is the constellations we see at night. Many people are familiar with Orion, which is visible throughout the winter. Orion is easy to spot because of the three stars in the belt. It is still visible in the evening at this time of year, in the southwestern sky. Other constellations are also starting to appear. Leo the Lion is one that comes back in the spring. It is easy to recognize because the brightest stars look like a backward question mark. You’ll see it in the eastern sky in the evenings of late March.