Did you know that the Latin word “aster” means star? Can you see why? Just look at those lovely little blooms and it becomes obvious- the little ray-like petals look like sprays of light surrounding a little yellow twinkle of a star. Learning the meaning of this little flower’s name really inspired me; it inspired me to make constellations out of the flowers. Making constellations out of aster is not only a great way to learn the star formations, but it’s pretty too. Stars and flowers, you can’t get much better than that!
- Fresh white aster flowers
- Blue construction paper
- Gold gel pen or alternative
- Constellation books
- Stack of heavy books
Step one: Pick fresh aster, work quickly or the flowers start drooping.
Step two: Cut off the flower stem at the sepal (the sepal is the green leaf-like part directly under the flower).
Step three: Pick a constellation, on blue construction paper place flowers where there are stars in the constellation.
Step four: Take a gold gel pen and draw lines connecting the stars (flowers) of the constellations.
Step five: Preserving the constellation-
a. Put your constellation on a flat surface.
b. Place a few layers of newspaper over the constellation.
c. Place a heavy stack of books over the newspaper.
d. Leave it to press for at least 48 hours.
After 48 hours, remove newspaper and books; add a small dab of glue under each star and let dry. Your constellation is done.
This would also be a great activity for preschoolers too, if you draw the lines out in advance and have them add the flowers in the spaces between the lines.
What is a constellation?
A constellation is a group of stars forming a pattern that often corresponds to a mythological figure. There are 88 recognized constellations.
What is an asterism?
A small group of stars forming a pattern. The big dipper is an asterism of the constellation Ursa Major (the great bear).
*This little star-flower was sacred to the Greek gods and made into wreaths and hung on their altars.
*In ancient times the leaves were burned and the perfumed scent was believed to drive away evil serpents.
*There is a Cherokee Indian legend about two tribes fighting over hunting grounds. One day, a village was attacked and 2 young sisters, wearing doeskin fringed dresses, one of dyed lavender-blue and the other dyed bright yellow, escaped to the woods to hide. The sisters sought out the Herb Woman for help, known for her herbal potions. The Herb Woman saw into the future that the sisters would be hunt down by the enemy and killed. So as the sisters were sleeping under the stars, she sprinkled them with her magical powder of herbs and covered them in leaves. The following morning the sisters were no longer to be seen but in their places were two flowers, a lavender-blue aster and a yellow goldenrod.
Symbolizes patience, wisdom, and a talisman of love
I made the following constellations:
Draco- the dragon
Big Dipper (part of Ursa Major, the great bear)
Leo- the lion
References seen in photos above:
Night Sky- Playing with the Constellations playing cards by Adventure Publications, Inc.
365 Starry Nights- An Introduction to Astronomy for Every Night of the Year by Chet Raymo