Making a Star
This week is “Preparing to Blast-off” at Junior Science Camp and we are having fun exploring space.
We are starting with the our wonderful sun and learning about the birth of a star.
Some amazing sun facts:
- The sun is the center of our solar system.
- The earth travels around the sun
- Although the sun has been around for billions of years, scientist have calculated that it has about 5 billion more.
- The sun is 92% hydrogen and 7% helium and the rest a mixture of other gases.
- In 1846 Johann Rudolf Wolf developed a method to count sun spots – now called the Wolf number.
- If you weighed 100 pounds on earth, multiply it by 27 and that’s what you’d weigh on the sun!
- The inner core of the sun can reach as high as 27 billion F. (Too hot for me!)
- Solar eclipses only happen when their is a new moon and the earth passes in front of the moon’s shadow.
- The energy of the sun travels outward.
- Earth travels around the sun every 365 days – 1 year.
- The sun is 93 million miles away from earth.
- The sun is 870,000 miles wide making it 109 times wider than earth!
- Without our super sun, life on earth couldn’t exist.
To help my “campers” learn about the sun, red giants and white dwarfs, they will perform a short skit.
We also made a star to record the steps that happen for a star to form. From a:
- red dwarf
- yellow star (like our sun)
- red giant
- white dwarf
- black dwarf
Although protostars, blue giants, red super giants, supernova, neutron star are part of the star cycle, I focused on the those six. For the project you’ll need:
- poster board (I found silver poster board so we didn’t have to paint that beforehand)
- paper plate (small)
- circle of black construction paper cut the same size as the paper plate
- fastener or brad
- pastels or chalk (or white paper to draw the stars on and cut them out)
- Prior to starting I cut out large stars from silver poster board to use as a base and cut out one section the same size as the sections on the black circle. This will be the window to see one star at a time as it grows.
- Let the kids decorate the star points and paint the underside of the paper plate. Explain that the plate will be covering the center so they shouldn’t decorate the center area.
- On the black paper, divide the circle into 6 sections for the 6 star steps.
- Using pastels have them draw out each step – they can be very colorful!
- By now the paper plate should be dry, so it can be attached to the star with a fastener. Be sure to layer the star, black paper star steps and the paper plate.
- Now decorate the painted paper plate.
- You have a record of the birth of a star!
Some information on the steps that we covered:
Nebula is a cloud of gas and dust. Some are where stars are being formed or where stars are dying or have died. They come in many shapes and colors.
Why are red dwarf stars red?
Because red dwarf stars only burn a little bit of fuel at a time, they are not very hot compared to other stars. Think of a fire. The coolest part of the fire is at the top of the flame where it glows red, the hotter part in the middle glows yellow, and the hottest part near the fuel glows blue. Stars work the same way. Their temperature determines what color they are. Thus, we can determine how hot a star is just by its color.
Red dwarf stars are by far the most common type of star in outer space. However, very few stars that you see in the sky are red dwarfs. This is because they are so small and make very little light. Imagine standing on a mountain. Pretend that there are one million kids 5 miles away holding flashlights, and 20 miles away there is a lighthouse for ships. You will most likely not see any of the flashlights, while you will very easily see the lighthouse. If the flashlights all glowed as brightly as the lighthouse they would blind you. Likewise, if all the red dwarf stars glowed as bright as the bigger stars, our nighttime sky would be very bright.