Now that Tim Peake has been given a second space mission (woo hoo – did you see our fantastic year of space activities while he was on the International Space Station & how we met him at a schools space conference afterwards?!) there’s going to be more interest in all things space again. If you do nothing else, show your kids the videos below. Space is awesome!
Whilst dog-walking at twilight recently the first star, actually a planet, Venus, shone for us brilliantly (though not enough for my phone camera to do it justice) and Caroline got to talking about why we call a planet the evening ‘star’ and what other astronomical highlights are around in the next few weeks to be spotted.
We are blessed to live in a dark sky area where stargazing is spectacular on a clear night. Watching the stars gets us outdoors when we wouldn’t otherwise. Einstein famously stated;
“Watch the Skies and from them learn,”
so I was keen to research other celestial activity since Caroline showed such interest.
Why not get out and do a little stargazing with the kids? If you live in the city, head for a park or somewhere with less street lighting.
2019 – on Monday June 10th, cloud-permitting, Jupiter and 4 of it’s 67 moons (Io, Europa, Gannymede and Callisto) will be visible to the naked eye (with biniculars or telescope) as it enters ‘opposition’, it’s closest position to Earth when it aligns with us and the Sun in a straight line. Look for it from twilight in the east throughout the night until Tuesday morning.
2017 – We discovered that the planet Jupiter is highly visible at the moment (2017), currently at an hour or so around midnight and moving to just before dawn in early February.
Juno Mission – Jupiter Space Probe
In August 2011 NASA launched a space probe, Juno, to orbit the planet Jupiter which arrived at its destination in July 2016 when it began sending data back to earth. PLEASE search the web for all things Juno as there is incredible data being recorded [forgive my facetiousness – let’s hope it’s still available to view online, in case Mr Trump forbids NASA to publish its findings in some obscure belief in the ‘alternative fact’ that other planets do not exist…]
Anyway! There’s even a Juno Cam on the Mission Juno website and their timer icon is in the shape of the space probe. Brilliant. It’s a stunningly beautiful planet – below is the image that got us excited. What is that blue swirl?!!
As a homeschool project we researched some of the mind-blowing facts about Jupiter and did a planetary artwork. These facts are suitable for age 7 though older children might want more detail:-
- Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system
- It is an immense gas giant and would take 1000 Earths to fill it
- Jupiter’s diameter is 21 times that of Earth
- Jupiter has 67 moons
- Galileo discovered Jupiter’s 4 largest moons – Io, Gannymede, Europa and Callisto
- The moon Gannymede is bigger than the planet Mercury
- The red ‘spot’ on Jupiter is a storm that has been raging for over 100 years
- The Juno probe photographed an as yet unexplained iridescent blue light storm/aurora(?) at Jupiter’s pole
- Jupiter spins at massive speed, completing full rotation every 10 hours
- It has huge levels of radiation – Earth’s radiation can be calculated at around 1/3 RAD, Jupiter’s is 20 MILLION RAD
Celestial Harmonic Motion Captured on Camera
I discovered the below short videos (amongst many), one including the first ever footage of celestial motion occurring, recorded during Juno’s long approach to Jupiter. Just WOW. All three are a fascinating must-watch and will whet any space appetite.
Watch NASA’s Juno Mission Trailer film (3 mins).
NASA’s film of humanity’s first ever viewing of Celestial Harmonic Motion (the planets and moons moving in relation to each other). (7 mins)
Watch Spacerip’s Jupiter video. (3 mins)
We’d picked up a TES Cosmic Classroom DIY space mobile at last year’s Principia Space Conference, which we cut out and stuck to the walls of our stairwell with some help from Wild Daddy.
Download a copy of the Space Mobile from TES here.
We have LOVED this mini project and I for one am well on the way to becoming a Space Geek of the Wild!
This Fact Sheet from NASA includes very specific scientific data for older, more advanced learners.
European Space Agency’s ESA Kids website has some great child-friendly information too.
The below books have all been very useful. Self-Destructing Space was bought by a friend and has already been quoted from when Caroline was asked to sit still at the table – she leapt up, grabbed the book and read from the page which explains that children can’t sit still because of the speed the earth rotates! Learning in action. We don’t have the map but it looks great and is on our ‘to get’ list.
Let me know what you think of our Jupiter resources.
For more suggestions on getting the kids outdoors check Kids of the Wild’s website.
Buy the Books
Click on the images to find the best prices at Amazon.
Welcome to #HomeSchoolofTheWild
Not just for home educators, these articles are for anyone seeking ideas and inspiration for extra-curricular wildlife and outdoor activities for their kids of the wild.
This is the first article in what I aim to be a Home School resource to share ideas, inspiration and comments as and when we use each other’s ideas.
A go-to Resource for Everyone
My (ambitious, I know) long term aim is for these pages to be a go-to resource for home educators where the posts and their associated comments help others to use or modify the resources when using them in future.
Comments as a Learning Aid
To make this a really interactive tool please feel free to share widely and make comments directly on the posts themselves, below (rather than on Facebook etc) so that other educators or users will get tips, feedback and extra ideas from those who have used or tried the activities, all in one place. In this way comments become almost as, or more, important than, the article, providing an up to date resource for users.
Any comments are useful but particularly the following: –
- General feedback
- Which ideas in the article you used
- What did and didn’t work well for you/your family
- What you changed, added or did differently
- If relevant, how you linked to the National Curriculum
- Other ideas or resources on the same topic
- Same topic, different age range ideas
- Lesson Plans
If you have an idea you would like to write about for the blog please contact me.