Paper Plate Education
Activity: Globe at Night
Globe at Night is a worldwide campaign to observe and record the magnitude of visible stars in a common constellation, such as Orion. The limiting magnitude suggests the level of light pollution at the observing site, which the observer can compare to global sites. In this activity, you mark Orion's brightest stars on a plate, then fill in the constellation's outline with the stars you can see. Compare your plate with the Globe at Night magnitude charts, and draw your picture of Orion.
Print a chart of Orion with a limiting magnitude of 2.5, which will show the major stars that define Orion--the three "belt stars" plus Betelgeuse, Rigel, Bellatrix, and Saiph. If you are using planetarium software to print Orion's outline, set the field of view to about 25 degrees.
Tape the printed outline onto a stack of plates to make multiple copies. Here, dark plates are used to simulate the night sky. At a drill press, drill holes through the seven stars, similar to the Platisphere activity.
When you go outside to observe Orion, rotate the plate so that the holes align with the stars you see. The angle of the constellation will vary with your latitude and the date. Next, mark all of the additional stars that you see within Orion's boundary in their respective positions on the plate.
Copyright ©2012 Chuck Bueter. All rights reserved.