Children’s Books and Activities About the Stars and Comets

Weekly Trip to the Library for Nannies and Au Pairs

The Glow-In-the-dark Planetarium Book by Annie Ingle

Unlike some “glow-in-the-dark” books this one actually has an educational purpose! While looking at it with the lights turned off, constellations such as Ursa Major, Leo, Taurus, and Orion magically appear along with planets and shooting stars. When the lights are on, the stories behind some of the stars and planets are ready to read as well as specific instructions to their locations so that you can look for them in the night sky. This book is a perfect book to use in a space/constellations if you can’t take a field trip to a planetarium or in preparation for a trip to a planetarium.

What you need:
Sticky stars
Black or blue construction paper
Flashlight
White chalk or marker

What to do:
1. Turn off the lights and pull down the shades in the windows.
2. Turn on flashlight and read The Glow-In-The-Dark Planetarium Book.
3. Turn off flashlight when finished each page to “reveal” constellations.
4. When completed book, turn on lights let the children to put sticky stars on construction paper (might need glue for stars to stick properly).
5. Ask children to create their own constellations using white marker or chalk to connect the stars into pictures.

Discuss comets and look at pictures in Solar System Voyageby Serge Brunier and Comets, Meteors, and Asteroidsby Seymour Simon.

Make a Comet on a Stick

What you need:
Two-inch Styrofoam ball or rubber ball
One to two feet length mylar gift strips, raffia, ribbon, or tinsel (preferably white and blue)
Five-inch strips of tape
Hairdryer
Glue,
Wooden skewers for shish kabobs

What to do:
1. Make a tiny hole in the ball so it can be mounted on the skewer or simply stab the skewer into the ball if you’re using a Styrofoam balls. The fit should be tight. Mount the ball on the skewer.
2. Place strips of gift wrap, ribbon, or tinsel on top of the ball so the two pieces cross each other in an “X” and the lengths of all sides of the strips hang down evenly.
3. Attach the strips to the ball or paper with the 5″ strip of tape or narrow masking tape wrapped over the strips and around the circumference of the nucleus.
4. Use a hairdryer to simulate a portion of the Sun’s solar energy as it meets the comet. The heat from the Sun warms the surface of the comet nucleus. This causes gas, ice, particles, and rocky debris of various sizes to burst from the comet in all directions (called coma) and the solar wind causes these substances to flow back behind the nucleus to form a “tail” behind the comet. Have someone be the “Sun” and stand in place with the hairdryer. The hairdryer simulates the solar wind causing the comet “tail” to form and trail behind the comet. Aim the hairdryer at the comet and keep it trained on the comet as it approaches and as it moves away. Have a second person hold the comet by the stick and walk in an elliptical (elongated or oval) orbit around the Sun. As the comet gets closer to the Sun, the Sun’s solar influence affects the comet so that the gas and debris forms a tail that is pushed toward the back of the nucleus. This tail flows in opposition to the Sun so that the nucleus is between the Sun and the tail. As it travels away, the lost influence of the Sun causes the tail to diminish or in this case, fall. The solar wind from the Sun, which is made of electrically-charged particles, uses electrostatic attraction and electrical transfer to form the comet’s gas and debris into a tail.

Comets, Meteors, and Asteroids by Seymour Simon
This is a visually appealing introductory book about comets, meteors, and asteroids. The intriguing photographs include shots of comets and meteor showers in the sky, a meteorite in Antarctica, and an enormous impact crater in Arizona.

Solar System Voyage by Serge Brunier
Beautiful photographs in a well-organized, oversized coffee-table style book. I looked through a few similar-style books, and this one was our favorite.

Comments

  1. Just ordered the first book should be fun! 🙂

  2. We did Astronomy week, in Decemeber. Tied into Christmas Star projects we made. The nice thing is that as seasons change the night time sky does too.

  3. We will def do this next week. I'm getting so bored of the pool and backyard play and library! This will make for a fun day! Thanks!

  4. These sound like such fun activities. I'm a nanny on the weekends and the kids I watch just love to look at the stars. Thanks so much.

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