Picture of StarryNight: Paper Circuits and Astronomy for Kids!

Ever looked in a sky full of stars and wondered what you were looking at? Where's the north star? Where's the Great Bear? Well, here's presenting - 'Starry Night' a great educational tool for Kids (and maybe adults) to learn about astronomy and electronic circuits [open and closed circuits] at the same time!

This project was inspired by Leah Buechley and Jie Qi's Computational Sketchbook at MIT. 'Starry Night' has one big huge circuit which has all the stars [blue LEDs] connected in parallel in this circuit. Once the moon's out [acts like a switch], all the stars shine thus activating the big circuit. By pressing on the names of different constellations, you see green lights between stars that help you identify the shape of the constellation. Each of the four constellations has a separate circuit with green LEDs to show the edges of the constellations.

To build this, you will need:

  1. Lots of Copper Tape
  2. 3V coin cells [6]
  3. LEDs [about 60 LEDs were used in this project]
  4. Copper Foil [since its conductive both sides, it was used to activate switches]
  5. Long fingernails [optional but HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - to help smooth the bumps while making a circuit or even to fold the copper tape while making sure its still conducting electricity]
  6. Soldering Iron

This instructable was made as part of the CS graduate course "Tangible Interactive Computing" at the University of Maryland, College Park taught by Professor Jon Froehlich. The course focused on exploring the materiality of interactive computing and, in the words of MIT Professor Hiroshii Ishii, sought to "seamlessly couple the dual worlds of bits and atoms." Please see http://cmsc838f-s14.wikispaces.com/ for more details.

This was done in collaboration with Hitesh Maidasani.

Step 1: Sketching the circuit

Picture of Sketching the circuit

It is important to first sketch out the entire sky (circuit) - where all the stars (Blue LEDs) go, where each of the constellation (Blue LEDs with Green edges) goes. Once you have figured that out, draw this circuit on a piece of cardboard.

All the Blue LEDs will be connected in parallel on the main circuit.

AgIC2 months ago

This is an amazing project! And congratulations for the prize. I was wondering how long did it take to finish it?

meethumalu (author)  AgIC2 months ago

Thank you! It took 1.5 days to finish everything

kithub7 months ago

Thanks for sharing this! We love this idea and think it's great as a classroom project or for a kids to make and hang in their bedroom.

meethumalu (author)  kithub6 months ago

Happy you liked it :)

patsheldon1 year ago

Congrats on your win!! It's well deserved. I just love this haha ;D I'd never get bored of it

meethumalu (author)  patsheldon1 year ago
:) Thank you !!!!!

i love astronomy and this a very good tool for educational purpose...thx a lot

meethumalu (author)  pouyan-abay1 year ago


patsheldon1 year ago

Who said this is for kids?? I want this SOOO bad, you have made my day!! Thank you!

meethumalu (author)  patsheldon1 year ago

:) Glad you liked it !!

hobby4us1 year ago

This is a great idea, just what I've been looking for... I want to do something like this to cover my cars roof for an interior light.

meethumalu (author)  hobby4us1 year ago

Thank you :)

Would love to see this on the roof of your car. We also thought about putting it on the ceiling of a kids room with switches by the bed side :)

Paulbacca1 year ago

I love projects like this. I did a similar one for my STEM after school club.


There are now conductive pens and paints that you could use instead of copper wire. But that would take all the fun out of it. I never got around to putting them on display in school. Your ones would look amazing on display.

Good job!

meethumalu (author)  Paulbacca1 year ago

Thanks :) and I loved your project too !!

We did think about using conductive paint but heard mixed reviews about it. People said they crack when they dry. But I think I would give it a try! (Ha! That rhymes :))

DIY-Guy1 year ago

It is beautiful to behold.

I would like to use these technical techniques to create lighted maps to real-world destinations in "local space" such as specific classrooms on campus, the location of a tool/machine in a Makerspace, or even a particular section of music in a composition. Thank you for the methods to make maps in the real world also!

meethumalu (author)  DIY-Guy1 year ago

Wow! thats a great idea. I would love to see this :)

This is great! I would have loved to have done this in school. :)

meethumalu (author)  jessyratfink1 year ago

Thank You :)