Science Projects for Kids: The Incredible Universe

Spot the Planets

Can you spot the planets in the night sky? This science project for kids: the incredible universe can definitely help. Did you know that, of the nine planets in our solar system, five (besides Earth) can be seen with the naked eye?

Find planets in the night sky.
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Find Venus and other planets in the night sky.

What You'll Need:

  • Clear night sky
  • Binoculars
  • Telescope, if desired
  • Star chart

People in ancient times called the planets "wandering stars" because these bright objects appeared to change position while other stars seemed to stay in place. Try to spot the wandering stars yourself. You need only your eyes, but a pair of binoculars or a telescope offers a better look.

Step 1: Go outside with your binoculars and look at the sky. Start with Venus, the easiest planet to find. Look in the western sky just after the sun goes down. You can also spot it in the early morning sky just before sunrise.

Step 2: Do research on where to locate the rest of the planets, which are harder to find. You can consulting an almanac or planetary table to track their movements. Or you can watch your local newspaper or an astronomy magazine for information on which planets are visible.

Step 3: Use a star chart to locate the constellation where the planet will be. The planets appear to move through the constellations associated with the zodiac, so become familiar with these constellations.

Step 4: Once you spot a bright object that doesn't seem to belong to the constellation, try observing it through binoculars or a telescope. With most home telescopes, you can see the red spot on Jupiter and the rings of Saturn.
Go to the next page to find out how you can make a star brightness detector.

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