Build the Big Dipper
Build the Big Dipper
  Make a Mobile!  
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    What you'll need
  • a black crayon or marker
  • an 8 1/2 x 11 inch piece of rigid cardboard or foam core board
  • black thread
  • aluminum foil, cut into 7 six-inch squares
  • a pen or pencil to poke a hole in the cardboard
  • tape
  • ruler
  • a copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader to print a PDF document. Follow this link to get it.
* Chart of Stars in the Big Dipper
# Star Name Distance from the Earth String Length
1 Alkiad 210 7 5/16 inches
2 Mizar 88 10 13/16 inches
3 Alioth 631 0 inches
4 Mergez 631 0 inches
5 Phecda 90 10 3/4 inches
6 Merak 88 11 inches
7 Duhbe 105 10 1/2 inches

    1. Print a copy of the Big Dipper Map. Color in the background to look like space, and glue or tape the whole page to the cardboard or foam core board.   Step 1  
    2. Poke holes through the cardboard where the "stars" appear on the paper.   Step 2  
    3. Cut seven pieces of thread about two feet long.   Step 2b  
    4. Tape the end of one piece of string to a six-inch square of foil. Crumple the foil into a ball around the string. Make the foil ball as tight as you can. Repeat this six times until you have seven foil ball stars on strings.
Step 3a...Step 3a
Step 3a
    5. Poke the free end of one thread through the hole for Star #1 (the first star on the end of the handle). Now find Star #1 on the chart. This star is named Alkiad. In the right-hand column of the chart, you'll see that Alkiad gets a string 7 5/16 inches long.   Step 4a  
      Pull the thread through the hole until the foil ball is 7 5/16 inches from the board.   Step 4b  
      Tape the thread in place on the back side of the board.   Step 4c  
    6. Repeat for all seven threads. Be careful not to let the strings get tangled together as you work. For stars #3 and #4, pull the string up until the ball hits the board and tape the string down in back.      
    7. To hang your mobile, poke four new holes through the cardboard, each about an inch in from the four corners. Now cut two more pieces of string, each about two feet long. Pull one piece of thread down through one corner hole and then pull it up through the nearest corner hole. Tie the two ends together, then repeat for the other two holes. Tie the two loops together so the board hangs flat.

You've DoneIt!
  Step 5  
    8. Hang your mobile from a nail in a doorway, or tape it to the ceiling. Now stand under your mobile and look up. What do you see?   Mobile from Below  
    9. Now look at your mobile from the side. That's what the Big Dipper looks like from space - and you didn't have to spend a billion dollars on a spaceship!   Mobile from the Side  
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