Have you ever tried to count the stars in the sky? There are so many! But we know all those stars and have given them names. Once in a while, though, even a kid can find a new star. On this day in 2008, 14-year-old Caroline Moore studied photos from her telescope and found an exploding star — called a supernova — that no one had ever spotted before. Then on December 31, 2010, a 10-year old named Kathryn Gray found another one, beating the record for youngest supernova discoverer ever. There are far more stars to find, so grab your telescope!
Wee ones: Once it’s dark out tonight, can you see any stars, or the Moon or any bright spots? Count as many as you can!
Little kids: If in the hazy night sky you can see the moon, 4 stars, and the planets Venus and Jupiter, how many night sky objects can you see? Bonus: If you count up 70 stars in batches of 10, what numbers do you say to count them off?
Big kids: If in one square section of the sky you count 12 stars, then look at it through a telescope and see 4 times as many stars, how many do you see now? (Quick trick: to multiply by 4, you can double the number, then double it again.) Bonus: If you divide the sky into 20 equal sections, and you count 100 stars in one chunk, how many stars can you guess are showing across the whole sky?
Wee ones: 1, 2, 3, 4, and so on…into the hundreds if you’re not tired!
Little kids: 7 night objects. Bonus: 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70.
Big kids: 48 stars. Bonus: 2,000 stars — about how many the naked eye can see on a clear dark night.
Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking before she could walk, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.