Look Up! Make a Pinwheel Galaxy

Pinwheel Galaxy Activity

Celebrate the upcoming launch of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope using a new Toolkit of five interactive activities. This month’s featured activity is Make a Pinwheel of the Pinwheel Galaxy.

Patrons design, cut-out, and assemble their own pinwheel of the Pinwheel Galaxy in a fun STEAM craft! Facilitate this activity at your library or print out the template and provide the craft materials for a Take & Make activity.

Fundamental Space Science Concepts – How Pinwheel Galaxy relates to JWST

The Pinwheel activity introduces the concept of a galaxy to patrons. While there are a few galaxies that can be seen in clear skies without a telescope (such as the Andromeda Galaxy), we need telescopes to see most galaxies.

Powerful telescopes study galaxies, including the first galaxies forming near the beginning of the universe. Galaxies come in different shapes and sizes. Our own galaxy, the Milky Way, is a spiral galaxy. Some are enormous round galaxies—giant ellipticals. There are also very small elliptical galaxies. Both spiral and elliptical galaxies vary in shape. Some spirals are dominated by their spiral arms, while others have arms that are barely detectable. Ellipticals can range from spherical to football shaped. There are also many galaxies with irregular shapes.

Three Galaxies
This graphic shows a giant elliptical galaxy, a spiral galaxy, and an irregular galaxy.

Unlike a pinwheel, the stars within a galaxy move individually, like particles in a dust storm or a swarm of bees. Most galaxies can be found in clusters with other galaxies. Over time, galaxies move and change, particularly as they merge with nearby galaxies in their cluster.

Video Resources for you to use and share with patrons

Discover more JWST Launch Toolkit activities

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