STARDOME OBSERVATORY & PLANETARIUM FACTS, RESOURCES AND ACTIVITIES ON... THE The group of , known in New Zealand as Matariki has been known by many other names all over the world, and all through history. To the ancient Babylonians the stars were known as MUL.MUL, in Japan, they are Subaru, in parts of India they are Krittika, and in ancient Greece and today they are known as the Pleiades. The Pleiades are what is known in astronomy as an open cluster. Open star clusters are groups of relatively young stars that formed at roughly the same time, from the same huge cloud of gas and dust, known as a . All stars were born from nebulae; including our own . Some five billion years ago the Sun formed from a nebula along with hundreds, or maybe thousands of other stars. When stars form in a nebula, they form quite close together and their mutual gravitational pull commonly causes them to become loosely bound together into clusters, just like the Pleiades. Our Sun was almost certainly part of a similar cluster billions of years ago when it was young, but these clusters don’t last forever. As an open drifts through Space the of other distant stars will gradually pull the cluster apart, sending the stars on their separate ways. This is a slow process At around though, the cluster that once contained the Sun likely existed for hundreds of 400 light years millions of years and it is thought that the Pleiades cluster will still be around a few hundred million years from now. distance, the The stars of the Pleiades are young as far as stars go. They must be in order to Pleiades is the still be part of an . It is impossible to know exactly how old the stars in Pleiades are, but it is estimated they are at most, 100 million years old. When second closest you see the Pleiades in the night sky, you can usually see only six or seven stars open cluster depending on viewing conditions and your own eyesight. It is thought, however, to us. that there are upwards of 1,000 stars in the cluster altogether. The six or seven stars that are visible with the are merely the brightest members of the cluster. Stars come in many different types. The brightest members of the Pleiades are known as class-B stars. Class-B stars are much larger and hotter than the Sun but are much shorter lived. They are often found in open clusters or can be traced to open clusters Check out these other resources... http://hubblesite.org/gallery/album/star/star_cluster/ that have recently broken apart as their short lifespan rarely allows them to venture far http://www.eso.org/public/images/archive/category/starclusters/ from their sibling stars. DISCUSSION POINTS some SCIENCE Why are CONTENT/ different CURRICULUM LINK stars PHYSICAL WORLD colours? – PHYSICAL INQUIRY AND stars can PHYSICS CONCEPTS. EXPLORE many EVERYDAY EXAMPLES OF How PHYSICAL PHENOMENA. see at night? SEEK AND DESCRIBE SIMPLE you PATTERNS IN PHYSICAL PHENOMENA. STARDOME.ORG.NZ 09 624 1246 ACTIVITY


DID YOU KNOW STAR There are hundreds of open MY clusters in the skies of MEET and some, like the Pleiades, can be seen without the aid of a . Objective... Look up at the sky on a clear night, The aim of this class activity is to demonstrate the NOTE: see if you can spot any other open different types of stars in our and to learn There could clusters. They will look like more about the twinkling “dots” in the night sky. more than one compact groups of stars and may scientific name have a slightly fuzzy appearance for a star. to them. (Hint: There are

You’ll need... several around the Internet access and a computer/tablet Southern Cross.) Craft supplies, including card, paint, glitter Meet my Star worksheet

Stellarium – free astronomy software that enables you to explore the night sky LIST OF STARS... 15. 1. 8. Achernar 16. Antares 2. 9. Betelgeuse 17. Pollux Instructions... 3. Arcturus 10. Hadar (Agena) Here you’ll find a list of well-known stars. Step 1: Capella A 18. Fomalhaut 4. A 11. Divide the class up into teams and ask them to 19. each pick a star based on its name. 5. 12. Altair 13. 20. Mimosa Step 2: Assign each team time at the computer and 6. Rigel ask them to find out information about their star. 7. Procyon 14. Capella B We’ve provided a worksheet for them to complete. Step 3: Once they have got to know their star, ask them to create a large picture of their star. These can be used to decorate the classroom. these helpful websites... Step 4: With extra computer time, let the teams Check out wikipedia.org .gov discover their star in Stellarium. It’s a free software stellarium.org that enables you to search the sky but date and time. space.com It can be set to your classes location and is a great

way of exploring the night sky, during the day. The Nebula. Image credit: NASA credit: Image Nebula. Carina The

STARDOME.ORG.NZ The Butterfly Nebula. Image credit: NASA/ESA/Hubble credit: Image Nebula. Butterfly The 09 624 1246 WORKSHEET MEET MY STAR • Hi, I’m ______.

• My scientific name is ______.

• I am ______years old.

• I am located ______light years away from Earth.

• I am in the ______constellation. Fun facts...

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