مصادر عالمية / Interesting Engineering

9 Astronomy Projects You Can Practice from the Safety of Your Home Right Now

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If you lucked out and had a great teacher, astronomy was probably one of your favorite subjects in school. Studying the moon, galaxies, comets, and everything in between open the gates to a lifetime of appreciation for this little blue marble we call home and our expansive universe. However, the fun and excitement surrounding the study of space do not end as a child.

Astronomy indeed attracts young people to science and technology, even leading them down a STEM career path. Nevertheless, there is a multitude of ways to do science beyond school as an amateur astronomer. There are also ways you can make contributions to astronomical education and research from the comfort of your home. However, we are getting ahead of ourselves.

Astronomy has a special place in the hearts of many people around the world. For the uninitiated, astronomy is simply the study of the sun, moon, stars, planets, comets, gas, galaxies, gas, dust, and other non-Earthly bodies and phenomena.

Since the beginning of time, humanity has looked towards the heavens, looking for patterns in celestial bodies, searching for meaning and order to the universe surrounding them. Astronomy itself looks at observing, while its close cousin astrophysics concentrates on the behavior, properties, and motion of objects out there. Nevertheless, it is good to mention that there tends to be an overlap between the two terms. 

Studying planets, galaxies, and stars can be a sublime, exciting, and imaginative experience, making astronomy a revered subject among children. As the philosopher Socrates once said, "Man must rise above the Earth—to the top of the atmosphere and beyond—for only thus will he fully understand the world in which he lives."

While isolating at home, there are many great resources and projects that you can do from your backyard. All you need is access to the night sky. And, don't worry, there are some great astronomy projects for adults too. Today we are going to highlight some of our favorite astronomy projects for people of all ages, projects that are perfect if you are stuck at home. Let's begin.

1. Start with a little stargazing

Astronomy Project Level: Beginner 

One of the best things to do as the nights begin to warm up is to spend some time looking at the night sky. For this project, all you need is a notebook, pen to take notes with, and a smartphone or tablet. Even more so, this is an excellent nightly project for people of all ages. Though stargazing is nothing new, there are apps out there that identify what is in the night sky, complete with 3D animations, and educational content.

All you have to do is point your phone at the night sky and interact with the celestial bodies on your mobile device. While discovering what is in your backyard, take the time to track the objects over the months, keeping note of how their positions change. We recommend downloading the apps SkyView and Star Walk to get started. During your exploration, you might even come across a few planets and galaxies.

2. Check out the surface of the moon 

Astronomy Project Level: Beginner 

9 Astronomy Projects You Can Practice from the Safety of Your Home Right Now
Source: NASA

Another simple project for people of all ages. All you need for this project is a pair of modest binoculars, a clear night sky, and a visible moon. With just these binoculars, you can see the incredible surface of the moon in much more detail than you might expect, revealing some of its stunning craters and lunar seas.

Even more so, take the time to record your observations, analyzing how the moon changes over time. It is also good to note that the moon will change places over time. A lot of people observe the moon, take the observations, and sketch them; thus, creating beautiful artwork. 

3. Observe the International Space Station 

Astronomy Project Level: Beginner-Intermediate 

9 Astronomy Projects You Can Practice from the Safety of Your Home Right Now
Source: NASA

After observing the moon and the few planets, why not take a shot at getting a glimpse of the International Space Station? The ISS is traveling at about 27,600km per hour above the Earth, allowing it to orbit the Earth about 16 times each day. At about 400 kilometers above the planet, the space station can be seen at over 6,700 locations worldwide. It is not that difficult to spot since it is one of the third brightest objects in the sky. If you want to learn more about how to spot the ISS, be sure to stop by its NASA website here.

4. Star Trail Photography 

Astronomy Project Level: Intermediate-Advanced 

9 Astronomy Projects You Can Practice from the Safety of Your Home Right Now
Source: NASA

As mentioned above, stars move their position all the time. This is, in part, due to the fact the Earth is continuously rotating as it orbits the sun, causing the positions of the stars to move from our perspective. When photographed over time, these movements create beautiful light trails in the sky, aptly dubbed star trails. This project is going to take a little more planning and commitment than the other projects on this list, but the end result can be amazing.

You will need a camera capable of shooting in "Bulb" mode, a sturdy tripod, and a cable release. And if you are planning to do this while it is cold, make sure you pack a decent flashlight and extra warm clothing. To get the full DIY process for Star Trail photography, be sure to stop by here.

5. Jump into astrophotography 

Astronomy Project Level: Intermediate-Advanced 

9 Astronomy Projects You Can Practice from the Safety of Your Home Right Now
Source: Richard Payne/NASA

Ok, so you have mastered Star Trail Photography, and you're now eager to capture other major heavenly bodies - enter the world of astrophotography. For this project, all you will need is a DSLR or mirrorless camera on a tripod-mounted tracker to get started. Astrophotography is merely taking pictures of objects in space. Even more so, with the right easy to access tools, you can capture stunning shots of galaxies and even star clusters.

There are a lot of ways to get started with astrophotography, and it's also a fantastic project to complete during the summer months. Here is what you need to know about astrophotography if you want to get started ASAP. 

6. Create a life cycle star poster 

Astronomy Project Level: Beginner 

This project is great to do with children, teaching them about the life cycle of a star while getting their hands a little dirty with arts and crafts. As a child, it is hard to process how long a star can "exist." This project will help put things into perspective.

Armed with simple household items, like black construction paper, cotton balls, and markers, you can create an engaging poster that demonstrates the life cycle of a star. The project is another great way to interactively teach children about the celestial bodies they see every night. If you want to complete the project, be sure to stop by here

7. Catch some stardust 

Astronomy Project Level: Beginner-Intermediate 

Stardust is made of particles remaining from a supernova explosion. Stardust offers researchers insight into the history of our universe. Yet, have you ever thought about how they go about collecting it?

Another project perfect for children. This project allows them to create their little satellites, analyzing if the number of particles collected during a satellite mission is related to the orbit distance from the satellite to the object being observed. Projects like these are great as they also teach kids about the scientific method. Check it out here

8. How can you use the stars to get back home? 

Astronomy Project Level: Beginner

9 Astronomy Projects You Can Practice from the Safety of Your Home Right Now
Source: NASA

To travel extended distances, ancient navigators used stars to get from point A to point B. However, how do you know which stars to use? And how do you use them? In this project, you will teach your children (and yourself) how to identify "navigational stars" in each hemisphere around the globe.

You can pair this project with a camping trip, or any other of the outdoor projects on the list, as this is a valuable skillset to have if you ever get lost. For more about this project, be sure to stop by Science Buddies

9. When is the best time to view the stars? 

Astronomy Project Level: Beginner

This project is another excellent way to expose children to the scientific method. For this project, you will be testing whether the moon affects your stargazing. Have your children write out their hypothesis for the experiment and test it over time while observing the moon phases throughout the month. Check out the project here.     

If you have children stuck at home right now, use this opportunity to show them how exciting astronomy and science can be.

Do you have any favorite astronomy projects? If so, leave your comments below. 

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