Explore the Night Sky with Astronomy Science Projects For Kids

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Have some fun with astronomy science projects. Would you like to find out about constellations, comets, and asteroids? Or, try some exciting astronomy experiments and games that are out of this world.

 Have you ever laid on the lawn late at night and gazed at the stars? Of course you have! Maybe you were looking for shooting stars or comets. Maybe you were just stargazing, wondering what all of it is or means. This is what we have done since the beginning of man, making astronomy the oldest science known.

Big Boxes, Flat Planets and Gods Controlling the Universe

The history of astronomy dates back several thousand years, some say as far as 13,000 BC. Many of the first peoples thought that the universe was a large rectangular box with lights hanging down. Others believed until relatively recently that the earth, stars and other planets were flat. Most had a common belief that the gods lived in the skies and controlled the universe.

Eventually a few cultures began to notice that the patterns in the sky had some kind of relationship to the seasons. In approximately 1300 BC the Chinese began to keep the first records of the events taking place in the heavens. By 700 BC the Babylonians could predict certain heavenly events like eclipses  and moon phases. Then came the Greeks in 600 BC. They obviously weren’t the first astronomers, but they became more aware of the truths of the night sky than previous cultures. They were the first to discover that earth was a sphere, however, most argued that the sun and everything else revolve around the earth. Most people accepted this belief until 1543!

 Explore the Night Sky with Astronomy Science Projects For Kids

Dangerous Ideas

It is worth noting that early astronomy was a risky business and heavily influenced by religion and politics. If the popes and rulers felt threatened, disagreed or disliked any of the findings from the astronomers, the works would be destroyed and on some occasions the astronomer was run out of the city or even put to death.

For a few hundred years during the Dark Ages and Middle Ages there was a lot of war and chaos in Europe. Many people fled the cities taking with them most of the important works of astronomy. These works were lost until the Renaissance began in the 1300s.

Knowledge Is Power

At about that time the printing press was invented making it affordable for the common man to have books and information of the sciences. People also began to read the bible for themselves.

 They began to find contradictions between what they were reading and what they had been told by the church. For example: the Pope had taught that according to the bible, the earth was the center of the universe and all heavenly bodies revolved around it. Anyone who believed that the sun was the center of the universe was persecuted.

Extreme Theories, Revolutionary Ideas

Beginning in the 1400s it took several famous astronomers to build theories and models of how the solar systems worked. Copernicus (1473-1543) developed a model where all of the planets revolved around the sun in perfect circles. Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) believed that the five planets orbited the sun, but the sun orbited the earth. Kepler (1571-1630) finally came up with the true motions and discovered that the planets move around the sun in ellipses. Galileo (1564-1642) was the first to use a telescope and found the 4 moons of Jupiter, proving that if Jupiter could retain its moons, then Earth could retain its moon as it revolved around the sun.

Newton (1642-1727) made the first reflecting telescope, which made the huge observatories of today possible. Einstein (1879-1955) developed the General Theory of Relativity, which basically says that all matter curves space, and in turn, how space is curved affects the movement of matter, which explains gravitational fields.  Because of these discoveries and the invention of the high altitude rockets in 1930’s and 40’s, human exploration of space was possible. In 1957 the Soviets were the first to send a dog into space. In 1961 the Americans sent a chimp into space. John Glen became the first person to orbit the earth in 1962 and finally in 1969 Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin were the first humans to walk on the moon.

What Else is Out There?

One of the first things you may be interested in is a constellation such as the Big Dipper. Constellations are simply groups of stars connected with imaginary lines to create a picture or symbol. Poets and astronomers, but mostly farmers, have made them up for over 6,000 years. Constellations were important to farmers because they only show up in a specific spot at a specific time of year. This told the farmers when to plant and when to harvest.

Comets are amazing to watch although they are rare. They are made up of ice and dust moving through the solar system in orbits, rarely coming within a few million miles of earth. As they near the sun, the sun’s heat melts the ices and releases the dust particles, which become the tail. Because they are so far away it is best to observe them through a telescope.

Meteors, commonly known as shooting stars, range from the size of a grain of sand to a small car. They travel at phenomenal speeds (2650 mph) and as they enter the earth’s atmosphere friction is created with the air, causing them to glow as they burn up.  Most completely disintegrate, but the particles that make it to the earth surface are known as meteorite.

Asteroids are large rocks ranging from a few feet to several hundred miles across. Most move between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars known as the asteroid belt. Their motion appears slow because of the great distance from earth, about 100 million miles, however a few pass earth’s orbit much closer, approximately a few million miles. These appear much faster and disappear within a few minutes.

Craters, especially noticeable on the moons surface because of the close distance to us are created by large particles slamming into the surface. They can range from a few feet to several miles.

Make Your Own Discoveries

These are only a few of the things you can discover! With the aid of a telescope or just your eyes and a map of the stars and constellations, the sky becomes an endless sea of adventure. Solar system models help to understand where the planets are in relation to one another and the cycle of each orbit.

Books are also an excellent guide to identify the stars, planets and constellations. Science Projects For Kids has chosen Telescope Power Book as an excellent resource book for the beginner and Night Sky Book for those who want something a little more advanced.

Astronomy Science Projects For Kids has some cool projects and experiments you can do at home. What’s more fun than exploring some outer space projects yourself? Astronomy science projects has some great ideas for experiments and games that you can do using stuff that you may already have. Doing some hands-on exploration will give you a greater understanding of what’s going on out there! Be curious and have fun.