Star Wheel


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Our activities are organised into three strands. Each strand takes you step-by-step through a different aspect of hands-on astronomy.

Strand 1 is an introduction to stargazing. It starts with our downloadable Star Wheel and goes on to provide a very simple yet comprehensive introduction to observational astronomy. Strands 2 and 3 are still in preparation. Publication dates are uncertain - the completion of these strands is being funded by subscriptions.

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Strand One Starry Starry Night
Stargazing for Beginners

Overview of this strand

Landmarks – Finding directions from local landmarks

The Stars as a Compass – Finding north and south by the stars

Make a Star Wheel – English-only or bilingual (Māori/English)

Chasing the Stars – finding constellations on a star wheel and a simulated sky

Under the Milky Way – your first night out stargazing

Planet Hit List – seeing all the planets

The Shifting Stars – make a 3-D model of the sky and use it to understand the sky's movement

Binocular Bonanza

  • Jewels of the Sky – a quick tour of some of the most spectacular nebulae and clusters visible in binoculars

Supporting Resources

Strand Two I'll Follow the Sun
Daytime Astronomy

Measuring the Sun – make a straw quadrant and use it to measure the position of the sun

The Rolling Sun – make a 3D sun path using your straw quadrant

Sundial City – choose from among our unique designs, build a sundial and test it. High interest sundials that dangle, sit on your desk, or get painted on the playground. Cut from a piece of cardboard or cast in bronze they look impressive and tell the time accurately. (Four major designs to be published)

Binocular Bonanza -

  • Zits on the Sun – the safe way to see and track sunspots

  • Moon Mornings – go crater spotting in the daytime

Strand Three Flash Bang Wallop!
Solar System Simulations

There are plenty of astronomy activities you can do at home or in the classroom, but travelling to other planets is not one of them. We have devised some activities that let you create astronomical models from everyday materials.

Eat the Solar System – create your own edible scale model of the solar system 1km/1,000 yards across

Balloon Globe – make your own world globe from a balloon and use it to model the seasons and eclipses using the sun as a light source

Collisions in the Kitchen - make a comet, a crater, a Lunar lava lake, and a volcano. Exciting cookery that explodes, splashes, hisses and pops while teaching about the solar system