The Pinwheel Galaxy is a spiral-shaped galaxy about 21 million light years away from Earth. Scientists call this swirling galaxy M101.
You can find it in the constellation Ursa Major, or the "Big Dipper," in the Northern Hemisphere. With a nice, dark sky, you can see it with binoculars or a small telescope.
For those of us who can't see it in the night sky, we can have the next best thing: a Pinwheel Galaxy pinwheel!
What you need:
- Pinwheel Galaxy Printout (PDF)
- Pipe cleaner
- Popsicle stick or chopsticks
- Single hole puncher
What to do:
- Cut out the hexagonal shape for your galaxy pinwheel.
- Cut along the white lines.
- Punch holes in the white dots: six around the edges and one in the center. You may have to fold the hexagon over to reach the center.
- Turn the paper so it’s face-down and thread the pipe cleaner through the center hole.
- Going around the circle, fold each flap so the pipe cleaner goes through the hole.
- Tie a knot in the pipe cleaner to secure the front of the pinwheel.
- Wrap the other side of the pipe cleaner around a popsicle stick. Don't make it too tight, or it won't be able to move.
- Blow on it and watch the galaxy spin!
Download a PDF of this activity.
Pinwheel not spinning?
Make sure the pipe cleaner isn't secured so tightly that it doesn't let the paper move. If the paper flaps are hitting the stick, flatten out the pinwheel on a table. Then carefully open each point from the front. This will let air in to move the pinwheel.