Our Place in Our Galaxy

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In this fun and simple hands-on astronomy activity, learners construct a model of our place in the Milky Way Galaxy and the distribution of stars, with a quarter and some birdseed. This is a great introduction to the distances of objects in the universe. This activity was designed for use with sky-viewing telescopes but can be adapted to many venues. The PDF contains step-by-step instructions, photos, presentation tips, background information, and ready-to-print activity handouts.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Demonstration, Model


Materials List (per group of students)

  • one handout per learner: “Quarter-North America Galaxy Model” (from PDF)
  • printed cut sheets for our galaxy and other CDs with seasonal star charts (included)
  • Solar System Images sheet (from PDF)
  • 15+ used CDs
  • Milo bird seed in plastic bag
  • Film canister or small scoop for bird seed
  • glue stick
  • scissors
  • (Optional) Hubble Ultra Deep Field card (from PDF)
  • (Optional) Telescope (not included in activity cost).


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Astronomy
      • Stars and Galaxies
      • Probes, Satellites and Spacecraft
    • Solar System
  • Physical Sciences
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Light and Optics
  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
      • Units of Measurement
    • Representation
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • The Scientific Worldview
      • Formulating Explanations


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access