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Jessi has a special guest today who is an expert on the night sky! Join Jessi and Sam the Bat to learn all about constellations, and to test your star knowledge by making flash cards!

Constellation Charts for Viewers:

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Your Sky Chart:

The Constellations Webpage:
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J: Hi everyone!  Today I want to introduce you to a special friend.  Someone who knows all about the night sky.  Welcome, Sam.

S: Hi, Jessi, I'm super excited to be here.  

J: And we're happy to have you here.  Would you like to tell our viewers a little bit about yourself?

S: Well, since I spend most of my time flying around at night, I've learned a thing or two about studying stars, planets, comets, really anything that has to do with space.  I guess you could call me an astronomer.

J: That's great, Sam, and I understand that today, you'd like to teach us what you know about constellations.

S: That's right.  When you look at the night sky, you see stars, right?  Lots of them.  And have you ever tried to make shapes out of stars, like you're playing connect the dots?

J: Sure I have.  Squeaks and I do it all the time.

S: Well, you're not the only ones.  People have been seeing patterns in the stars for thousands of years, and some of those star patterns are  what we call constellations, and you've probably seen constellations already, like Orion the hunter, Draco the dragon, or maybe Cassiopeia the queen.  There are more than 80 different constellations that astronomers have named in the night sky.

J: So, Sam, how did constellations become constellations?

S: Well, they were originally used by people to keep track of what time of year it was and to help them find what direction was which, like north, east, south, and west.

J: Wow, that's really neat.  So how did people do that?

S: Well, as you probably know, the Earth orbits or goes around the sun, and as the Earth goes around the sun, our view of the stars change, so over the course of the year, the constellations move very slowly across the night sky and a long time ago, many people learned that as the constellations in the sky changed, so did the seasons.  This helped the people know when to plant seeds for farming and when to harvest those plants before winter and different constellations appear in different parts of the night sky, so some constellations can tell you whether you're looking north for example or south.  

J: Oh, so knowing what constellations are in the sky can also help you figure out what direction you're looking in, and what time of year it is.

S: Yeah, that's right.  Plus, it's just fun to point out constellations when you're out stargazing with your friends.

J: That's right, and I've heard that you've come up with a fun way to help us remember some of the constellations.

S: I sure have, Jessi.  Flash cards.

J: Oh, that's a great idea.  Flash cards are just little cards that you can use to help you remember things like letters, words, or numbers.

S: And they can be great for learning constellations, too.  To make your own cards, you'll just need some note cards and markers.  Yeah, like those.  If you don't have note cards, you can easily cut a piece of paper into four pieces and use those.  You'll also want to find out which constellations you can see in your night sky, because the constellations you can see from your house depend on what part of the world you live in.  To help you find constellations where you live, we have links to constellation maps in the description below.  

J: For my flashcards, I'm going to draw constellations that I can see in North America where we live.  I'm going to draw Orion, Leo, and Sagittarius.  To start, I'm going to look at an image of the Orion constellation.

S: Whoa, look at all those stars.  Do you see those three that are in a row?  Those make up what is called Orion's belt, and the star cluster below his belt is called the Orion nebula.

J: How cool is that?  Now that we can see what Orion looks like, I'm going to draw the stars using my orange marker.  After I've drawn the stars, I'm going to connect the dots with my blue marker, so I can see the shape of Orion.  Then, all that's left is to write its name on the other side.  If you need some help writing the names, grab a grown-up, a sibling, or a friend to help you out.

S: Yeah, that looks great!

J: Thanks!

S: For the second flash card, let's take a look at Sagittarius.  This constellation includes a lot of stars, but part of it looks like a teapot and that's how I'm able to find it.  Sagittarius is called the archer, because it looks like he's using a bow and arrow.  The Greek (?~3:29) of Sagittarius is a centaur, a creature with the upper body of a man, and the legs of a horse.  

J: Take a look at that!  Like our first card, I'm going to draw the stars using orange and then I'll connect the stars to make the teapot shape.

S: Sagittarius can be seen in both the Northern and the Southern hemispheres depending on the time of year.

J: So when we can't see it, our friends in the Southern hemisphere can?

S: That's right.  If you live in the Northern hemisphere, you can see it in the summer, but when autumn comes, it goes down South.

J: And to finish my card, I'll write the name on the back.  It's kind of a hard one to spell.

S: Okay.  Let's do one more.  For this one, let's draw Leo.  This constellation looks like a big cat, a lion.

J: For this last card, I'll draw the stars in the right position, and again, I'll connect the stars with blue.

S: Perfect.

J: And then I'll write out Leo on the back and this flashcard will be finished.  Okay, Sam, are you ready to quiz me on the constellations?

S: Yep.  Let's see what you remember.  Okay, here's the first one.

J: Hmm, I think that's Leo.

S: That's right.  

J: Hah!  I remembered this was Leo because it looked a lot like a lion.

S: Good memory, Jessi.  Alright, here's the next one.  

J: Hmm, I think that's Orion.  I can see the three stars that make up his belt.

S: Yes, great job!  And here's the last one.

J: Oh man, I can see the teapot right there, but what was its name?

S: Sagittarius.

J: Oh, that's right.

S: That's okay, Jessi, we can keep practicing and we can continue to learn new constellations and make more flashcards.  I can talk about constellations all day.  

J: And that's why Sam's the expert.  Thanks for joining us on this special episode.

S: And we'd like to give a big thank you to Google Making Science for helping us make this episode.

J: Do you have constellations that you want Sam to teach you about or do you have any other questions about space?  

S: Let us know.  Grab a grown-up and leave a comment below or send an e-mail to

J: And we'll see you next time here at the fort.

S: Bye.