Create a Harry Potter Starfinder!
As fans of the Harry Potter series know, many characters are named after stars and constellations, including Sirius, Cassiopeia, Andromeda, Scorpius, Merope, Bellatrix, Pollux, Orion, Regulus, Arcturus, Alphard, Cygnus, and of course Draco.
Now you can find most of them on your very own starfinder.
Step 1) Download and print out your favorite free online starfinder template. An example is the one available through Sky and Telescope(https://skyandtelescope.org/astronomy-resources/make-a-star-wheel/). Assemble following the directions on the page. Decorate your starwheel using a Harry Potter theme (perhaps with the crest of your favorite Hogwarts House!)
Step 2) Make sure the names of all the relevant stars are on your starfinder. You may have to write in two bright stars - Bellatrix (in Orion) and Alphard (in Hydra). Here is an example of an older version of "Uncle Al's Skywheels" to which I have already added these two stars. Finally, next to the Pleiades write "Merope" (Merope is the name of one of the britht stars in this star cluster).
Step 3) Download and print out the Sirius Black family tree to see the how these celestial characters are related to each other. Be sure to add the name of Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy, Draco's son. Merope Gaunt isn't on the list either, but any HP fan will know who her son was (hint - don't say his name!).
Step 4) Go outside and enjoy finding these celestial characters in the real night sky!
For those of you who are interested in further exploring your starfinder, here is an worksheet to help you do just that. Once you've completed it, take note of one of J.K. Rowling's astronomical goofs, involving Orion and the astronomy part of the OWL exam.
Did you enjoy this activity? If so, let me know.
Disclaimer: The Harry Potter universe is the intellectual property of J.K. Rowling. Uncle Al's Skywheels are the intellectual property of Al Gould. This activity is offered for free educational usage only. This activity was developed by Kris Larsen and first used in free children's astronomy workshops in 2008.