Glowing Planets

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One of the bonuses about winter’s early sunsets is that even little kids are awake to see the stars and planets. Travis and I talked recently about what it is that makes planets glow; they don’t make their own light the same way stars do, of course, but they do reflect the light of the Sun and thus give off a glow – sometimes the brightest one in the sky!

We came in to make our own glowing planets, thanks to a few simple materials.

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First, I asked which planets Travis wanted to make, and for each, we brainstormed a little diagram of what he knew about it. Earth, for example, would appear blue and green from space, and has oceans and continents.

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Saturn was made of gases, has rings, and is colder than Earth.

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We finished out diagrams for Earth, Mars, Saturn, and Neptune (the four that Travis picked) and colored four golf balls accordingly. Travis loved making Mars bright red! Use permanent marker for the best results.

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Now make a slit in the bottom of each ball with an X-acto knife (grown-up step), and place over the flame of a tea light.

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We found that small tea lights worked better than tall ones, even though we had more of the latter.

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Now your planets glow just like the ones in the sky! These were especially fun in the bedroom at night.

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