Kids Astronomy Resources from Bill Hettler

“As long as our ancestors are still suffering within us,
we can not be truly happy.
If we make a step with awareness,
free, happily touching the earth,
we do this for all the past and future generations.

They all arrive at the same moment we arrive
and we all find peace at the same time”

-----Thich Nhat Hahn

Space Constellations


World Almanac for Kids



Thousands of years ago, astronomers grouped stars together to form pictures. These groupings, or the areas of sky that they cover, are known as constellations. Astronomers all over the world named the constellations after animals or mythological figures or tools.

Many of the constellations we use today were named by the people living in ancient Greece and Rome. But the southernmost parts of the sky could not be seen from that part of the world. Most southern constellations were named only later by European people, when they began traveling more in Earth's southern hemisphere.

In 1930, the International Astronomical Union established a standard set of 88 constellations. They cover the entire sky that is visible from Earth. Astronomers use constellations as a quick way to locate other objects. For example, from Earth, the other planets moving around the sun appear in different constellations at different times.

The Big And Little Dippers

Two constellations are thought to resemble bears--Ursa Major (Great Bear) and Ursa Minor (Little Bear). The tail and hips of the Great Bear are also known as the Big Dipper. Ursa Minor is also known as the Little Dipper. Polaris, the last star in the handle of the Little Dipper, shines to the north and is called the North Star. The two stars at the end of the bowl of the Big Dipper always point in the direction of Polaris, making it easy to find.


The constellation of Cassiopeia looks like the letter "W" in the sky. In Greek mythology, Cassiopeia was an Ethiopian queen. She was the wife of Cepheus and the mother of Andromeda. According to tradition, when she died, she was changed into the constellation that is named after her.


From our viewpoint on Earth, the stars in the constellation of Orion seem to trace a picture of a hunter. (Orion in Greek mythology was a giant hunter killed by the goddess Artemis.) Three stars form Orion's belt. Betelgeuse (pronounced bet tell juice), a bright red star, is his left shoulder. Rigel, a bright blue-white star, is his right foot.

Links to Astronomy WebSites for Kids

Some of these links have lengthy lists of links to additional sites.  I have not reviewed all the links.

Constellations for Kids

Learn to Find Stars and Constellations Find the Constellation Game Kids learn about astronomy  Astronomy for Kids
The Constellations and their Stars Athrolpolis LINKS Table of Constellations Virtual Telescope
Umbrella Full of Constellations Constellation Maps Make a Star Finder Winter Constellations

Local UWSP Planetarium Schedule



January  24, 31
February  7, 14, 21

The stars themselves are featured in our first program of the new year as we look at the life cycles of the stars.  Narrated by Nichelle Nichols, known by many as Uhura, the communications officer on the starship Enterprise.  We also see how astronomers learn about the stars by studying the light from those stars.  Discover the secrets of the universe by allowing the sheer power of the night to arouse your curiosity.  By becoming the stargazer within you. 


February  28
March  7, 14                          No shows on March 21 or March 28
April  11, 18                                          No show on April 4   

Come along with a young woman on her personal quest to find a special place in the night sky.  Starting with her childhood adventures on Mars (thanks to a cardboard rocket) and on to the discovery of her “birthday star”, these experiences eventually led her to becoming an astronomer.  During the remainder of the program she shares telescopic views of celestial objects and describes the night sky.  Sky Quest is narrated by Roxann Dawson (the actress who portrays B’Elanna Torres on TV’s Star Trek: Voyager) and it is an entertaining and educational exploration of the night sky that appeals to family members of all ages.



April  25
May  2, 9, 16, 23 

The age-old question of “Are we alone in the Universe?” is the focus of this program.  The only way that we can really answer that question is by finding out what other types of “solar systems” are out there.  The main emphasis of the search for new worlds is finding out how astronomers are actually finding planets around other stars.  This program, by using computer animations and interviews with planet hunter Geoff Marcy, offers viewers a comprehensive look at the search for planets beyond our own solar system.    


Links to Video Resources


Some people believe that many religions evolved from attempts by early humans to explain the origins of the stars and life forms here on earth. I encourage parents to view these videos and then decide which, if any they would like to share with their children.

Carl Sagan on "God" and "gods" Astronomy: Stars and Constellations I Want to Know: Stars and Constellations
Night Sky With Google Earth How big is the Universe? Be an expert on the night sky's constellations in 5 mins.
How the Universe is Created pt 1/5 How the Universe is Created pt 2/5 How the Universe is Created pt 3/5
How the Universe is Created pt 4/5 How the Universe is Created pt 5/5 How Old Is The Earth? __Part 1 ~ Prof W Veith
The Root of All Evil - The God Delusion (Part 1-5) The Root of All Evil - The God Delusion (Part 2-5) The Root of All Evil - The God Delusion (Part 3-5)
The Root of All Evil - The God Delusion (Part 4-5) The Root of All Evil - The God Delusion (Part 5-5) Zeitgeist - The greatest story ever told 1-3
Zeitgeist [Religion] The Greatest Story Ever Sold (2 of 3) Zeitgeist [Religion] The Greatest Story Ever Sold (3 of 3) Astronomy Lecture - the Planets
Astronomy Lecture - Stellar Evolution Distinguished Lecture in Astronomy: Steven Beckwith One year in 40 seconds
Carl Sagan - Pale Blue Dot Sam Harris - Misconceptions About Atheism Sam Harris - The End of Faith (Part 1-8)