May 10: Shooting stars

Let’s shoot for the stars!

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Below are some talking points and activities to pass the time, all relating to today’s story.

Talking points

Discuss the ideas presented in the story with your family—at home or over video conferencing. Find ways to involve as many people as possible, especially those who you know are isolated by the lock-down.

  • How do these photos make you feel? Are there any you particularly like?
  • What do you think it’s like to be a night-sky photographer? Do you think these stars are different to the ones above your house, or is it just the photographer’s lenses and the dark sky that makes them look so different?
  • The photo with all the pink and purple is of a star called Eta Carinae. It is 120 times bigger than our sun! Why do you think the sun looks bigger than all the stars we see at night, even though some of them are actually bigger? Did you know that stars have names? How do you think they get their names?
  • Mount John is a great place to look at stars because of the nearby mountains, which make the region dry, and because of Lake Tekapo, which is thought to cool and stabilise the atmosphere. There is also a small population and the McKenzie District Council have passed laws to make sure streetlights don’t impact night sky viewing. What do you think of the idea of a special place set aside for stargazing? Would you go there if you could? Do you think there should be more places set aside like this?
  • Mount John Observatory is a base for astronomers from the University of Canterbury as well as Nagoya University in Japan. Can you think of any ways New Zealand and Japan might each benefit from working at Mount John together? What kind of discoveries might they make that could benefit our world?

Task—Make a paper lantern

Do you know how to find the Southern Cross, or any other well known stars or star systems? Maybe you can head outside to do some star-gazing in the next few nights. This decorative paper lantern is a fun way to celebrate the shorter days as we head towards winter and Matariki.

    1. Take an A4 sheet of paper. Any paper will do but a heavier weight paper will work best.
    2. Fold it in half. Cut slits at about 1.5cm gaps. Stop about 3cm short of the fold.
    3. Open out the paper.
    4. Tape the long sides together so the paper forms a cylinder. It will have a bend outwards halfway down where the fold was.
    5. Poke holes at the top and string some wool through for a handle.

Send us a picture of your paper lantern!