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Watching the Summer Night Sky, Grades K-5

Science Lessons, Activities & Curriculum Resources

Found In: science, preK-2, 3-5

Now that summer is approaching, brush up your stargazing skills and get ready to enjoy humankind's first TV, the night sky. These lessons, activities, and resources will help you locate and identify celestial objects with equipment as basic as your own eyes.

Lesson Plans & Activities

Lesson Plans

Shadow Play ( PDF, 151 KB, 3 pgs.)
Students in grades K-5 learn about the Sun’s relative motion in the sky as they experiment with shadows.

Observing the Moon (  PDF , 760 KB, 4 pg.)
Students in grades K-5 observe and make drawings of the moon at different times.

Seeing the Invisible: Dust in the Universe
Students in grades K-12 explore the properties of dust and the astronomical research of dust in space with four grade-appropriate inquiry based activities.

Additional Lesson Plans


Live from McDonald Observatory - Videoconference Program
Videoconferences are 50-minute, fully interactive connections between one class (or student club) of up to 35 students and a McDonald Observatory facilitator. Versions for grades 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12 are available. Rates are $100 per interactive 50-minute videoconference, or $60 for "view-only" classroom.


Human Space Flight (HSF) - Realtime Data
See the ISS in your own backyard. This "applet" uses up-to-the-minute data from Mission Control to project the path the spacecraft (ISS) will make across the sky.

gSky Browser: Explore Astronomy, HubbleSite
Search the night sky using Google Earth, zooming in on astronomical objects at their precise location in the heavens. Requires installation of the latest version of Google Earth.

Finding Hubble in the WorldWide Telescope: Explore Astronomy, HubbleSite
WorldWide Telescope provides guided tours of celestial objects. Listen to Hubble astronomers explain the scientific stories behind the images. Requires installation of Microsoft Research's free WorldWide Telescope (WWT) software.

HubbleSite Reference Desk
Get the facts: answers to basic questions about astronomy and Hubble, figures and charts, and dictionary definitions for astronomical terms.

Background Resources

SKYCAL: Sky Events Calendar, NASA (K-12)
SKYCAL (Sky Events Calendar) will help you keep track of the sky by calculating the local date and time of all these celestial happenings. It displays them on a convenient calendar that you can print and hang on the wall. You can generate a calendar for a single month or for an entire year. Just choose your Time Zone.

Quizzes & Printables


Way Out!, HubbleSite (grades 3-12)
Three levels of a cosmic trivia quiz game starring a cow that jumps over the moon and beyond the Milky Way.


Make a Star Wheel!
Make and use this simple Planisphere or Star Wheel to navigate the night sky.

Make Your Own Cardboard Planisphere 
Select and download a planisphere PDF to make and use at your latitude.

Star Finder – Star Chart
Wheel and directions for making a light-shielding viewer from cereal box.

Astronomy Coloring for Kids (grades K-2)

Audio & Video


Radio’s Guide to the Universe, StarDate Online
StarDate tells listeners what to look for in the night sky, and explains the science, history, and skylore behind these objects.

SkyWatch with HubbleWatch
Highlights news from the world of astronomy. Listen via computer or MP3 player to the latest discoveries. SkyWatch also includes HubbleWatch, a round-up of news from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.


Hunting the Edge of Space, PBS NOVA
NOVA examines how a simple instrument, the telescope, has fundamentally changed our understanding of our place in the universe.

Part 1 (1:04:18)
Part 2 (51:50)

Piercing the Sky
History of modern telescopes and astronomy.

Videos – Astronomy Magazine
The editors of Astronomy magazine bring you the latest science, new products, hobby tips, and more.



last updated May 7, 2019


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