Lunar and Planetary Institute

Activity: Star Viewing


On a dark night children can view the sky and identify stars. Share this special viewing event with children and their families.

The Activity
Invite children and their families to go outside and view the sky on a clear night.

  • Can the children find stars that are very bright?
  • More faint?
  • Do the stars appear to twinkle?
  • Can they find stars of different colors?
  • Can the children locate constellations? Nebulae?

Locate the sword attached to the belt of the Orion constellation and find the middle star. This star appears fuzzy. Through a telescope you may be able to see a cloud with a small cluster of stars. This cloud is the Orion Nebula, and it is an interstellar cloud composed of dust and gas. It glows because of bright, hot stars within the cloud. Nebulae are where new stars are born.

While you are viewing Orion, look for a bright red star in the upper left corner — Betelgeuse. It is red because it is a relatively cool star. A very hot blue star sits in the bottom right corner of Orion — Rigel.

A sky chart for your local area will display a night sky view, as observed with the unaided eye. Sky and Telescope offers an interactive Sky Chart that can be generated and printed easily using a local zip code.


Last updated
January 22, 2007


Ages 5 and up and their families

How Long?
30 minutes or longer

What's Needed?

• Clear, dark viewing sky
• Binoculars or a telescope
• Mosquito repellent
• Flashlight
• Snacks
Binoculars or a

Connections to the National Science Standard(s)

Standard D (grades K–4): The stars have properties, locations, and movements that can be observed and described.