Students observe colors in the flame of a burning candle to explore connections between matter, light, color, and temperature — basic concepts of matter and energy.They elaborate on these basic concepts in a new context of astronomy and stars. When matter gets hot enough, it emits visible light. When heated to the same temperature, light bulb filaments, horseshoes, and stars will emit the same characteristic blend of color (or wavelengths) of light. Stars are different colors — white, blue, yellow, orange, and red. The color indicates the star’s temperature in its photosphere, the layer where the star emits most of its visible light.

What Students Do

Students produce color drawings of the candle flame and scale models of stars.

Materials You Will Need

  • StarDate radio script (“Denebola” or “Spring Triangle”)
  • Candles and candle holders (e.g. cupcakes)
  • Matches
  • White paper
  • Crayons or colored pencils. Offer students a wide variety of colors.
  • Construction paper
  • Colored chalk
  • String
  • Spherical balloons (yellow and white)
  • Ruler or meter stick


Colors of Stars — Teachers

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Colors of Stars — Students

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Colors of Stars — StarDate Scripts

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