Senior Sky Badge: Step One of Five

The sky is a masterpiece. Every day it graces us with living art, whether through a glorious sunset, shifting cloud formations, or the stunning display of night stars. No wonder we take every opportunity to spend time outdoors. Girl Scout Seniors can earn their Sky badge at home with the help of GSCO’s Outreach Program.

Step One: Watch the Skies

Part A: Watch the skies- Day time

  • After you’ve done your research and learned about clouds (see *BEFORE heading out below), on a partly cloudy day lay on a patch of grass, towel, or blanket outside and look up! Watching the clouds go by, notice clouds that look like different shapes, characters, animals, etc. Also, allow yourself to just enjoy seeing the clouds and how they move with the wind currents.
  • Next, identify different types of clouds. Are they a type of cloud that produces rain?

*BEFORE heading out to look at the clouds, take Girl Scouts of USA’s Internet Safety Pledge and research at least three types of clouds. After you’ve earned this badge, you will have learned the name of at least three types of clouds and know which type of clouds produce rain.

BONUS: Create a cloud field journal, photo journal, drawing, or painting of what you saw on your cloud viewing.

Here’s an example of an Internet search:

Google:

  • What type of clouds are rain clouds?
  • How many types of clouds are there?

Search Results: UCAR Center for Science Education

Part B: Watch the skies -Nighttime

Choose a mostly clear, moonless* night and head to your backyard, local park, or another dark area to gaze at the stars and planets. Depending where you live, you will see stars differently than people in other parts of the country and world. If you live in a city, you will have to find a place without many streetlights and look harder to see stars due to light pollution. Those living outside of the city will be able to see more of the night sky due to it being darker. The author of this post lives in Mesa County and can see the Orion constellation and Milky Way most nights. This difference of visibility is known as the limiting magnitude.

Have you noticed how bright and amazing the stars are when you go camping? This is because we generally camp in the wilderness or desert where there are no streetlights and little to no light pollution.

*The brightness of the moon also determines how many stars you can see. Pay attention to the moon’s phases and look at the sky when the moon is either a new moon or in the waxing or waning crescent phase.

Challenge yourself: Do research beforehand so that you can recognize and identify a particular constellation and a planet or two. Some planets are extra visible at different times of year. If the moon is out, what phase is it in? Learn about the moon’s phases and be able to identify which moon phase you are viewing.

Good website for night sky viewing tips: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/nightskies/stargaze.htm

Also:

Google: Stargazing near me

Sources:

(1). nineplanets.org    Sep 29, 2019 – Limiting magnitude is used to evaluate the quality of observing conditions. It tells the magnitude of the faintest star visible to the unaided eye.

(2). Moon phases: https://www.farmersalmanac.com/understanding-phases-moon-20606

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