Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity rover) is landing soon!

The Mars Science Laboratory, better known as the Curiosity rover, will be landing on Mars on August 5th or 6th (depending on your time zone).  This is an exciting opportunity to help excite your kids about astronomy and space exploration.  Today’s post includes all of the basics about the mission.  Stay tuned for a post at the end of the month about activities to do as a family to prepare for the landing.

When?  The Curiosity rover launched on November 26th, 2011 and will be landing at approximately 1:31am EDT on August 6th, 2012.

Where?  The Curiosity rover will land in Mars’ Gale Crater, near the Martian Equator.  (Go here to see where Curiosity is RIGHT NOW!)

How?  The spacecraft not only has the tough job of traveling the distance from Earth to Mars, but also had to include the launch vehicle which propelled the craft beyond Earth’s gravity.  The spacecraft is carrying a rover that will act as a portable science laboratory on the surface of the planet.

Instead of the airbag entry that has been used in past Mars missions, the Mars Science Laboratory will use a guided entry and a sky-crane touchdown system.  This is a new and unusual way to land a rover, and I imagine that NASA scientists will be holding their breath during the critical seven minutes!  (“Curiosity’s Seven Minutes of Terror” video, describing the entry, descent and landing)

Why?  The Curiosity rover is an advanced science laboratory on wheels.  The Mars Science Laboratory is carrying the largest, most advanced set of instruments ever sent to the Red Planet.

The mission has many things that it hopes to accomplish, and it is helping to meet four goals of the Mars Exploration Program:

  • Determine whether life ever arose on Mars.
  • Characterize the climate of Mars.
  • Characterize the geology of Mars.
  • Prepare for human exploration.

The Mars Science Laboratory represents the new age of Mars exploration.  This is an exciting event for NASA and planetary scientists around the world.  Check back on July 27th for activities to help your family learn more about the Red Planet and prepare for the landing.

Help me celebrate the launch of Lie Back, Look Up (free printable & a giveaway!)

To celebrate the official launch of Lie Back, Look Up, I am offering a free printable and a giveaway! This is a website that I’ve been dreaming about for awhile, and I’m so very excited to finally get it off the ground. I hope you all have as much fun visiting here as I do sharing my ideas.

As a “thank you” for helping me launch, I invite you to download these free constellation cards. These can be printed and enjoyed over and over again with your family. They will be available free-of-charge throughout the month of July.

The constellation cards are a great way to encourage your kids in their love of the stars. There are many uses for children (and adults!) of all ages. Here are a few ideas on how to use the cards:

  • as flashcards to learn the constellations
  • blow them up and use them as decorations in a children’s room or a nursery
  • as seating cards at a birthday party (as seen here)

You could also print two sets of the cards, using just the side with the constellation picture (leaving the backside blank) and try the following:

  • use them as a Memory game
  • play Old Maid or Go Fish
  • have your kids write their own myth for each constellation on the back

Three lucky winners will be receiving a free planisphere. A planisphere, also known as a star wheel, is a great basic tool to have for stargazing. You just have to spin the disk to match up the time and date that you are stargazing, and it will show you which constellations you should see in the night sky.

To be entered into the random drawing, just leave a comment with your email address (in the “email” field in the comment form). For an extra entry, share this post via Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest (you can use one of the buttons at the bottom of this post), and let me know that you did so in a separate comment. For a third entry, subscribe to this blog and let me know in the comments as well. If you win, I’ll email you to ask for your latitude so I can make sure to get you the correct planisphere for your location.

Comments will close on this post on Friday, July 20 at 1 PM EST. Winners will be announced on Monday, July 23.

Good luck in the planisphere giveaway, enjoy the cards and don’t forget to Lie Back, Look Up!

What is a shooting star?

If you’ve ever been lucky enough to see a “shooting star” in the sky, then you understand why they are the topic of so many songs and children’s rhymes.  Catching one with your eye feels like a special occurrence, maybe even a sign of good luck or good things to come.

But what exactly is a shooting star?  Is it a star falling out of the sky?  a dying star? a comet?  A shooting star is actually a particle from space colliding with the earth’s atmosphere.  We call these particles meteoroids, and they can be as small as a particle of dust or as large as a tennis ball.  As the earth travels around the sun, we run into some of these particles.  When they hit our atmosphere, they burn up and create a beautiful path in the sky, called a meteor.  The larger the particle, the more impressive the display.  If the particle does not burn up completely in our atmosphere, pieces might make it to the ground, which we call meteorites.

Several times during the year there are opportunites to see a large number of meteors during the night.  These events are called meteor showers.  This happens when the earth passes through the debris left from a comet traveling in a very elliptical orbit around the sun.  Because we know where these comets’ orbits are, we know exactly when we will be passing through their debris each year.  Stay tuned to Lie Back, Look Up for more information on viewing the Perseids meteor shower, occurring on the nights of August 11th and 12th.

Family Stargazing Activity for July– Stargazing Diary

Here at Lie Back, Look Up, you will find monthly stargazing and astronomy activities to do with your family.  Many of these activities include a free printable, as well as tutorials and videos.  Please let me know in the comments how your family has enjoyed these activities!

One important thing to remember when stargazing with children is that you need to give them something to “do”.  Many children will become bored with just looking up at the sky, so bringing along an activity is very important to keeping their attention.



A stargazing journal is an important tool for amateur and seasoned astronomers.  Establishing a record of your sky observations is a great habit to instill in children, and can also be a lot of fun.  I’ve included a link below for a Stargazing Diary to print-off and use with your kids.  As always, it’s important to model this for your children– bring along a blank notebook that you plan on using for your Stargazing Diary.

On each page there is a section for a drawing of their observations, as well as writing-prompts below each observation.  These prompts can make for great discussion on many astronomy basics.  I would make several copies of the last page to include in your child’s Stargazing Diary– it will allow for general observation time and time again.

Click the link below to download your free Stargazing Diary.

Stargazing Diary Printable

You may print our activities for your own personal, non-commercial use. Our printables may not be hosted on any other web site, blog, forum, etc.

Transit of Venus 2012

Did you see it?!  The transit of Venus happened on June 5th, 2012 and was observable here in the United States.  We watched it here in Michigan from around 4:30pm until sunset.  This important astronomical event won’t occur again for over 100 years.

The transit of Venus that occurred in 1882 was of extreme importance in the astronomical community.  The data that was collected during this transit was used to calculate the Earth-Sun distance accurately for the first time.  Today, these types of astronomical events can be used to help excite your family  about astronomy.  I really feel that this was an important event for my family to see– it definitely gave us a sense of perspective.  Seeing the small dot of Venus against the sun, you really got an idea of how small the Earth is in our solar system.  Also, knowing that this event will not happen again in our lifetime, we had a great discussion about what life will be like in 2117 when the next transit of Venus happens.

You can often join your local astronomy club at gatherings for events such as this (like we did!).  These events are wonderful, because there are often quite a few expensive telescopes around, and their owners are usually more than happy to let you look through them.

It’s too late to view the transit of Venus, but there is still plenty of time to plan for some of the important astronomical and sky events upcoming in 2012.  Check back for more information later this year on the following events….

  • August:  the landing of the Curiosity Rover on Mars & the Perseids meteor shower
  • September: the Autumnal Equinox
  • October: the Orionids meteor shower
  • November: a penumbral lunar eclipse
  • December: the Geminids meteor shower and the Winter Solstice


Lie Back, Look Up: Why it’s important

Stargazing is a great way to “get outside” as a family.

 A back-to-nature movement to reconnect children with the outdoors is burgeoning nationwide.

—USA Today, November 2006

Many would agree that families are spending less and less time outside together.  Stargazing is a great way to get out and just enjoy the outdoors together– be part of this movement to reconnect children with nature.  Too many children don’t have enough experience outside at night, and stargazing can can help to conquer many of the fears that children have of the dark.

Gazing beyond the earth gives you perspective.

Part of the process of adolescence is for kids to begin to look beyond themselves.  We live in a world where children can explore their universe with a few clicks of a mouse, but the best way to gain perspective on their place in the universe is with their own eyes.  There is no substitute to gazing at the highlands and lowlands of the moon through a telescope, or looking at the Andromeda galaxy (2.5 million light-years away!) with the unaided eye.

Studying the sky is a great way to learn about other the history of other cultures.

From Galileo’s observations of the phases of Venus and the moons of Jupiter, to ancient farmers using the constellations to guide their crop planting, stargazing has had an important role for humankind throughout history. Learning about the mythology of the stars can be a great window into other cultures.  There are many books available on constellation mythology and endless websites dedicated to the topic. You can buy essays on the website any time.

How To Write An Essay

Article was written by part time blogger from

Different Paper Types

Research is the most widely recognized sort of article. An examination article is one in which you have a theme that should be considered and after that displayed in a unique way including the essayist’s investigation of the data.

Enticing: It is one in which the author embraces a particular perspective and endeavors to persuade the gathering of people to concur with their sentiment. This is finished by giving data, persuading contentions, and the essayist’s assessment.

An interpretive paper is like an influential however as opposed to including the essayist’s assessment, it is totally in view of expressing realities. The certainties can be went down and supported with research.

Account: This is an article in which the essayist relates an episode or story. The story is a more clear and regularly more individual type of composing. It is frequently the sort of article understudies will finish as their school application. Understudies can even discover tips and guidance for account from world-confided in sources, for example, Forbes.

Beginning: THE PRE-WORK

Composing any sort of exposition is made such a great amount of less demanding by doing the fitting legwork and research. Having the base data to help compose it will make really bringing the greater part of the data together substantially less demanding.

The primary thing the author needs to do is take a thought and expand upon it. This is finished by investigating the subject, thinking of a position and making inquiries about the theme perusers may be keen on as well. Consider the accompanying strides:

Wikipedia is a decent place to begin with general research. A few teachers don’t consider this to be a solid source, yet all things being equal, it can lead understudies to articles and references that can be utilized for formal references.

Hope to check whether there are comparative papers out there, regardless of whether they contend a similar point or take the restricting perspective. It regards examine the work of others to encounter the impact of the article from the peruser’s supposition and modify in like manner.

Search out customary research techniques. While there is a great deal of data accessible web based, looking in libraries and utilizing print-based media can give enlightening essential sources.


The main thing an author needs to do is produce a proposition or center for the paper. The proposal ought to be a restricted proclamation that the author will examine, guard and some of the time give their supposition on. A theory can’t be a question which should be addressed and can’t be composed in the main individual.

Arranging out an article incorporates something other than picking a theme. Essayists ought to conceptualize their own thoughts regarding the subject, guides they need toward incorporate and start to discover sources to move down the data they wish to incorporate.

The article ought to be obviously plot. The acquaintance and the proposition have with be clear, specifying what it will be about. The proposal ought to explicitly be compact and comprise of a solitary sentence in the primary passage. The body ought to be laid out with the focuses that will be made and the rundown of the thoughts that will associate the focuses to one another.The bolster for these focuses will be given in the written work handle. The conclusion ought not just re-express the truths and the purposes of the body yet ought to entwine the whole paper. This ought to be done in a couple focuses that can be set out in the framework.

The paper diagram ought to be seen as the bone of the exposition and the structure that will be taken after all through. Scholars can start with this by basically developing the focuses that were given in the layout. It is vital for the essayist to completely talk about each point. This ought to be accomplished through examination, giving a synopsis of the author’s sentiment and depicting each point in full, so the group of onlookers does not have any waiting inquiries.

Cleaning YOUR WORK

Journalists need to check their work after the composition has been finished. Each sentence must be syntactically right, and each word ought to be passed on a particular point. For help with this, utilization free assets, for example, Purdue OWL and Grammarly.

Authors need to survey the structure of their paper, the data, the support accommodated each point, and the significance of the majority of the data included. Cleaning the work incorporates altering the substance and also editing for mistakes.

When this has been done, the best thing to do is to either have the article sent to an expert editing administration or to give the exposition to a regarded relative or companion for simplicity of cognizance. It doesn’t make a difference if the peruser is keen on the subject or has involvement with the level of composing. On the off chance that they discover the work simple to take after, instructive, and conceivably convincing, then it is by and large elegantly composed.

GETTING Professional Assistance

As a bustling understudy, having room schedule-wise to compose an article doesn’t generally come simple. To ensure there is no danger of getting a not as much as impeccable review, students may simply go to site for help.

This reasonable paper composing administration spares understudies a lot of time. The cost is constantly reasonable, as it is figured by the scholastic level, the length of the article, and the due date.