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Age Range: 7-11
Duration: 30-59 mins
  • D & T
  • Science

Identify star constellations

A night stargazing activity to find and identify star constellations

In this fun science activity for KS2, students will learn how to find and identify star constellations in the summer night sky. They will learn to use a star chart and a compass to find direction and star constellations.

This activity can be used as a main lesson to teach learners about star constellations, contributing to their learning in mathematics and science. Additionally, this activity can be used to start a discussion on the solar system and the position of planets and the sun.

Activity: Identify star constellations

This activity is one of a set of free STEM resources that allows learners to use seasonal themes to support the delivery of key topics in design and technology, mathematics, and science.

This activity introduces the concept of finding direction and identifying star constellations in the summer night sky. It is important to note that this activity should be conducted after nightfall, on a clear night when the moon is not too bright. This makes it ideal for a homework activity (provided there is access to a safe, controlled area) or for any overnight activities, such as school sleepovers or residential trips.

How long will this activity take to complete?

This activity will take about 50-60 minutes to complete. Teachers can download the activity sheet below for a detailed lesson plan. Those completing the activity at home can download the family activity for a step-by-step guide on how to complete this night stargazing activity at home.

What is a star constellation?

A constellation is a group of stars that appear to form a pattern or picture in the night sky. The stars in a constellation are not physically close to each other but appear to be because they are all located in the same direction from Earth.

The names of constellations are often based on mythological figures, animals, or objects. For example, the constellation Orion is named after the Greek hunter Orion, and the constellation Taurus is named after the bull.

Constellations are useful for navigation and for telling stories about the night sky. They can also be used to learn about the stars and the universe.

The engineering context

For many years, travellers have used the stars to navigate. Engineers have assisted them by creating navigational tools, such as the sextant, which uses star positions to calculate a ship's position at sea.

Suggested learning outcomes

By the end of this activity, students will know what a star constellation is, they will be able to find North, East, South or West on a compass, and they will be able to look and identify star constellations in the summer sky.

Download the free activity sheet below!

All activity sheets and supporting resources are free to download, and all the documents are fully editable so that you can tailor them to your students and your schools' needs.

The activity sheet includes teacher notes, guidance, helpful web links, and links (where appropriate) to the national curriculum in the four devolved UK nations: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

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