When we think of the galaxy, the vastness that is space, one of the first things we think of is stars. If you’re lucky enough to live in the country, you probably can get a decent view of the stars every night before bed. Those of us who are inhibited by city air pollution are considerably less fortunate in terms of star gazing.
There are however several ways we can study the night sky, without actually seeing it. One way is to go to a planetarium, which we do with one of our homeschool groups every month. Another way is to make constellation luminaries.
To make these luminaries you’ll need empty soup cans, a little freezer space, a hammer, and a few nails of varying width. I strongly prefer the kind of soup cans that have the easy pull top, as they are already sanded down and not likely to cut your fingers, however you can use a standard soup can if you are willing to sand the sharp bits down yourself.
Simply wash out your soup can and fill with water, place in the freezer overnight to freeze. While that is freezing, use a constellation key to pick out which you’d like to make. Take a piece of a paper the height of your can and mark where each star goes. For my first luminary, I choose Orion.
Once frozen, remove the can from the freezer, tape the constellation diagram you’ve made to the can, then use a hammer and the various sized nails to create holes where the stars are.
Once all the holes have been made, remove the paper from the can, melt the ice with a bit of hot water, and dry off the can.
Add a candle and viola, you’re done.
For safe lighting, I recommend an LED candle. If you’re using these lights outside, which I am, then you’ll want a waterproof LED candle.
We’ve been saving up these cans for a few months now and hope to have a collection of constellations lighting our backyard come spring.
This post has been part of The ABCs of Raising Well-Rounded Geeklings series.