Earning Farmgirl Sisterhood Merit Badges
6. Stargazing Chicks
- Observe the night sky for several days and see which of the five brightest objects in the night sky you can pinpoint. How can you tell the difference between a planet and a star?
- Learn to identify a constellation like Ursa Major and its major stars. Take pictures of the night sky or diagram your favorite constellation. A Field Guide to the Stars and Planets by Jay M. Pasachoff or a similar book may help. Learn about degrees of arc and how to measure and estimate them.
- Start a stargazing log from your back porch. Note which nights are cloudy and which are clear, how well you can see the Milky Way (if it’s even visible), and how much the stars twinkle, as well as where and how much light pollution there is in the sky.
- Use binoculars and a star chart to find Jupiter on a clear, moonless night. Follow in Galileo’s footsteps by diagramming the positions of Jupiter’s moons over several consecutive nights in your log. While you have your binoculars out, check out M31, the Andromeda galaxy.
- Attend or host a star party.
- If you want to learn more about stargazing, check out Seeing in the Dark: How Backyard Stargazers Are Probing Deep Space and Guarding Earth from Interplanetary Peril by Timothy Ferris.
- Spend time seeking the more elusive objects in the sky. Try to observe the planets Mercury and Uranus, a variable star, a very young and a very old moon, a meteor shower, and a lunar eclipse.
- If you’re feeling really lucky, challenge yourself to observe a satellite, asteroid or comet; the zodiacal light; or the earth’s shadow.
January, 2011 Edition