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Paper Plate Education
"Serving the Universe on a Paper Plate"

Paper Plate Astronomy Videotape/DVD/Streaming Video 

Now available for free
in streaming video!

Click the activity name (right)
 to view the clip.

The Great Lakes Planetarium Association (GLPA), with support from the Office of Space Science, produced a 70-minute video which demonstrates the construction and use of nine paper plate activities and variations (descriptions listed below).   If you cannot view the free streaming video through the links above, you may preview the video either by selecting an activity and viewing excerpts of pictures and instructions, or by reading the text-only narration for each activity.

Members of the GLPA can request a free copy of the video from the GLPA "slide bank" while supplies last.    GLPA members and non-members alike can order Paper Plate Astronomy as a VHS videotape or as a DVD for $14.00 plus $3.00 shipping.  It must be noted that, for only $20.00,  membership in GLPA with all of its many benefits is a great value.  

(Click a title to go to detailed descriptions and accompanying  images.)

(Click a title to go to the respective activity; click a thumbnail image to enlarge the plate.)

Sunrise Sunset  

Video_title_Sunrise_Sunset.jpg (19271 bytes) Draw a local horizon around the perimeter of a plate.   Over several months, track the changing position of the sunrise or sunset against the local background. 

Satellite Tracking Bowl

Video title Satellite Tracking Bowl.jpg (139356 bytes) Plot the predicted passes of satellites onto a bowl which you can take outside as a viewing aid.

Sub-Solar Cup

Video title Sub Solar Cup.jpg (150916 bytes) Indicate in real time the position on the earth at which an observer can see the sun directly overhead.  This allows the user to track the changing position of the sun between the tropics and to trace out and define the analemma.

Altitude Measurer

 Video title Altitude Measurer.jpg (145131 bytes) Make an astrolabe-like device that allows you to measure the altitude of celestial objects.


Video_title_Platisphere.jpg (20233 bytes) Make a device that reduces the sphere of stars to a paper plate.  With this tool you can accurately determine the positions of the circumpolar stars for any given time and any given date.  This video shows several variations of the Platisphere, including a children’s version, a tactile version for visually impaired users, and the Photographic Plate, which predicts the smear of stars (star trails) produced from a long duration exposure on film.

Latitude by Polaris

Video_title_Latitude_by_Polaris.jpg (19230 bytes) Illustrate how navigators used the North Star to determine their position, correlating the observed altitude of Polaris with the navigator’s latitude.

Altitude of the Noon Sun II

Video_title_Altitude_Noon_Sun.jpg (18721 bytes) Demonstrate the range of the sun’s altitude through the seasons for any given location.  This plate also conveys why the sun sometimes never rises in the far north for months at a time.

Moon Finder

Video_title_Moon_Finder.jpg (20894 bytes) Observe and plot the moon’s phases and its position relative to the sun.  Then you make a model which can predict the position of any given moon phase for any date and any time.

Planet Pointer II

Video_title_Planet_Pointer.jpg (17416 bytes) Plot the position of the planets in orbit around the sun and make a device to transfer that model to the real night sky.  Essentially,  your device shows you where to look to see the planets.       


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Copyright 2012 Chuck Bueter.  All rights reserved.