4 Activities Inspired by Professor Astro Cat
This weekend, why not explore the planets and discover how different in size they are? Or even create your very own planet? It’s not as ambitious as it sounds – Professor Astro Cat says so! Here are some simple but exciting science experiments you can do with a quick food shop, a calculator, a cardboard box, and some colouring pencils…
Re-create the solar system with fruit!
Simply mark out a circle 4m wide for the Sun. Then find a large peppercorn, a cherry, a small cherry tomato, a large pea, a watermelon, a large grapefruit, an apple and a lime. Line them up and ask your kids which one they think is the Earth. Whether they can guess or not, they’ll be amazed at just how big a difference there is between all of the planets. Just look at Mercury next to Jupiter! Luckily, this experiment is easy to tidy up – that is, unless you’ve tucked into the fruit while experimenting…
Work out how old you’d be on every planet in the solar system…
If you’ve already played our app, Professor Astro Cat’s Solar System, you’ll know that the Mercury chapter allows you to input your age in Earth years and compare it with what it would be on Mercury. But Mercury isn’t the only planet with oddly short or long days and years. Neptune takes so long to orbit the Sun, even young adults would be just a fraction of a year old! You can calculate your age and next birthday on all of the planets here.
Watch a solar eclipse!
There are usually 2 solar eclipses every year, when the Earth, Moon, and Sun line up perfectly (in a similar way to the new moon below, but even more closely aligned!). The Moon appears to block out the Sun completely. But this can be dangerous to look at, so making a pinhole projector is the safest way to view it. Using a cardboard box with a pinhole to let Sun through, and a large hole for you to peak through, you can watch the Moon cover the Sun using the projected light and shadows. The next solar eclipse is on August 21st.
Design your own planet.
Finally, don’t let the planets you’ve seen so far limit your imaginations! Grab the pencils and paper and design your own planets to create your own solar system. Remember, there can be more than one star at the centre (called a binary star system). Planets can be rocky, covered with oceans, or gaseous. They may have moons or rings, and could be a whole range of colours depending on their chemical composition. Think about the worlds you create – what kind of aliens would be able to live there?
Find more awesome science activities in the Prof’s official activity book, by our sister company Flying Eye Books!