Now we are going to switch gears. So far, we have been talking about the science of Astronomy. Now we are going to learn about how to look at the sky. Astronomy will become exciting for you when you can look at the stars and constellations and say some of their names.
Sometimes people spend a lot of money to buy a brand new telescope. They get home, open the box, and when they go outside to use it they can’t find a single thing. These people get mad and end up putting their new telescope back in the box, never to use it again.
They are frustrated because they expected to be able to look right through the telescope and see beautiful things. But they did not take the time to learn how to find the things they were hoping to see. How do we find things in the sky?
When we travel in a car we find our way by using a map. These maps are broken up into different areas such as countries, states and cities. In Astronomy we also use maps. Just like street maps, skymaps are also broken up into different areas. Instead of states, each area of the sky is called a constellation.
To help us find an object we need to look at a map of the sky. Before you can use a skymap though you need to learn the constellations.
The most important thing you can do to start yourself off on the right foot is to learn the constellations. Go to the store and buy a good star map, or go to http://www.skymaps.com to download a free skymap, which you can print right from your computer. Spend a few nights a week outside looking for each of the constellations.
It is not always easy to find the constellations at first and is going to take some time. But it really is the most important thing you can do. To make it easier, let’s talk about how to use a skymap.
A skymap should be held upside down above your head. The best way to do this is to lay on your back, hold the map above your head, with the “N” pointing North. If you need help ask an adult. Remember, the constellations look much bigger in the sky than they do on your skymap.
Assignment # 3
Find the Constellation Ursa Major in the night sky (Hint: Ursa Major is also called The Big Dipper). The picture above is helpful, but you should get a skymap and a parent’s help.
Check your answer
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If you found Ursa Majorin the night time sky, give yourself credit.