Observatory Field Trip
If you are interested in stars, planets, and constellations, an observatory or planetarium is the place to go. An observatory is a tall, dome-shaped building specially built to observe the night sky through large telescopes. Reservations are usually necessary to tour the facility and to look at the stars. The hours change according to the season and available daylight. Once you are inside, a tour guide will explain the different kinds of telescopes and answer your questions about astronomy. Plan to take your field trip at night. A planetarium, on the other hand, can show you the night sky any time of the day (as long as it is open to the public) because it is a closed dome with a light source inside and rotating projectors which simulate the changing night sky. Hopefully you will be able to recognize some constellations and bright stars on your own the next time you look up at the night sky from your home.
Note: In 1609, the Italian scientist Galileo first used a telescope to look at the skies. He observed that the earth moved around the sun which was contrary to what people believed at the time. They thought the earth was the center of the universe.
From 365 Smart After-School Activities by Sheila Ellison & Judith Gray. Copyright © 2005 by Sheila Ellison & Judith Gray. All rights reserved. Used by arrangement with Sourcebooks, Inc.
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