Navigating the Night Sky:
Planetarium show for Middle School Children
Pre-Show Activity 1
Mystery Constellations


Grade Level
Materials Background

It is very difficult to introduce and teach all the information and skills introduced in astronomy in three weeks. This activity will provide a method in which the teacher can extend the astronomy curriculum so as to include all lessons that are necessary.

  1. Draw a constellation on the board where it will not be erased, or put up a picture of one. Label it "Mystery Constellation" #1, #2, etc. Leave it up for a couple of days to create interest. (Use constellations that are in the night sky at the time of the year, fall, winter, etc.)
  2. After you feel enough interest has been generated, explain what your intentions are. (Two a month, map them etc.)
  3. Review what they know about constellations. Add anything you feel is necessary.
  4. Have children guess the name of the constellation. Write the names on the board as they are given.
  5. Tell a story about the constellation you have chosen.
  6. Ask again if children know what it is. Give more facts if necessary. (Name major stars...)
  7. Read stories related to that constellation or the stars contained within.
  8. Review the North Star, its location, why it is important, and other names for it.
Follow Up
Challenge students to find these constellations on their planetarium trip.
Source: Matt Merritt

© 1999 University of Washington
Revised: 22 August, 2001