The Science Learning Hub has lots of resources for primary teachers related to the night sky in the Planet Earth and Beyond strand of the New Zealand Curriculum. 

The night sky is fascinating to talk about with children. It evokes a sense of wonder and mystery. Have a look through these resources for some ideas.

Space –  viewing with our own eyes

Before radio, television or GPS existed, people would look at the night sky as a means of entertainment, to tell stories or to determine direction. The following resources use objects students can see in the night sky without the aid of a telescope.

Navigating without instruments

Wayfinding or navigating without instruments is about ocean voyaging using the stars, the Sun, the Moon, the ocean swells and other natural signs for clues to direction and location.

Navigating without instruments - introductory article with links to media, articles and student activities

Navigating with Sun, Moon and planets – Article

The celestial sphere – Article

The star compass – kāpehu whetū – Article

Constellations in the night sky – Activity

Natural satellites

A natural satellite is any celestial body in space that orbits around a larger body. Moons are called natural satellites because they orbit planets.

Natural satellites – Article

Our solar system – revolutionary ideas – Article

Observing natural satellites – Activity

Spotting satellites – Activity

Space – viewing with instruments

Some times we need to rely on instruments to see things in space. Discover a few of these amazing objects in the Solar System and beyond.

The Sun and white dwarfs – Article

How a solar system is formed – Article

Space plasma – Article

Red giants in the night sky – Article

Comets – Article

To catch a comet the Rosetta Mission – Article

Visiting space

The official beginning of space is 100 km above the Earth’s surface. Rockets launched into space can be suborbital (brief visit to space) or orbital (staying in motion around the Earth) or can escape Earth’s gravity to travel deeper into space. The International Space Station orbits at a height of about 360 km. Nigel Latta did not get quite that high.

Getting rockets into space – Article

Nigel Latta Blows Stuff Up Episode 6: Space – Article

How do we know what is out there?

Look up into the sky at night. Just with your eyes, you can often see the Moon, planets, stars – even a couple of galaxies outside the Milky Way. With a telescope, you can see a lot more – fainter and more distant stars, dust clouds, galaxies. But there is a lot you can’t see, even with a powerful telescope, because not everything in space gives out light we can detect with our eyes. Find out how astronomers study space from a distance

Space revealed  – introductory article with links to media, articles and student activities

Planet hunting – Article

Space observatory – Interactive

Hunt the planet – Activity

Is anything out there? – Activity

This is one of the great attractions of this subject; there is always something more to learn, a deeper insight to achieve. It’s rarely a matter of, oh well, I understand this, let’s move on.

Prof Denis Sullivan

General information

Stars – Image

The Pleiades – Image

The Matariki star cluster – Article

Close shave with Asteroid 2011 MD – Article

Lonely planets wander galaxy – Article

Satellite fall to Earth over Pacific – Article

Solar flares hurl charged particles at Earth – Article

Heritage scientist - Beatrice Hill Tinsley

New Zealand cosmologist Beatrice Hill Tinsley was the first female professor of astronomy at Yale University. Her research added to the wide acceptance of the Big Bang theory. 

Read her biography: Beatrice Hill Tinsley

Use the timeline to read about aspects of Beatrice's life and work, and how her findings changed scientific thinking.

I used to read the encyclopedia as a kid and wish I could understand and contribute to cosmology.

Beatrice Hill Tinsley

 

    Published 18 June 2015