Art inspired by the night sky

From 12th February to 21st February 2021, the Northumberland Dark Skies Festival will be hosted by various Dark Skies enthusiasts from some of our most well-known experience providers based in Northumberland.

As part of the festival, we are running an art competition for children aged 5-12, with the theme The Darkest Skies in England. The winning entry will receive a mini stargazing kit to use at home, as well as the opportunity for their school to borrow our brand new Dark Skies loans box free of charge.

To help you start to think about what kind of art you might like to create, we have put together some examples of different craft ideas that you can try at home.

Useful items

Some useful items to have handy are….

  • Black or dark blue card
  • Paints and brushes
  • Tin foil
  • String
  • Pens and pencils
  • Clay or playdough
  • Junk material – plastic bottles, cardboard boxes, yoghurt pots, or anything that you would normally recycle.
  • Chalk
  • White paper
  • Glue

Don’t worry of you don’t have all of these things. Have a look at some of the examples below and use whatever you have at home to get creative!

What to do

Black card, paper, or any black or dark background is a great starting point for dark sky art. A simple way to start, especially for younger children, is using paint and stamps to create effects on the card. If you have a star shaped cookie cutter and some yellow or white paint, you can easily print some stars by dipping the cutter into the paint and pressing it on the paper. You can make any pattern you want, or you could try and make some of the constellations that can be seen in the night sky.

An alternative is using scrunched up tin foil to make a stamper to dip in the paint – this is great for giving the effect of the surface of the moon or a rocky planet. Or, if you have any filter paper (the paper sometimes used in coffee machines!) you can make really effective planets by cutting circles out of the paper, using felt tip pens to make a pattern and then dropping a few drops of water onto the paper. As the paper absorbs the water, the ink runs and expands, making patterns that look like the surface of a planet.

A photo of craft materials showing a pair of scissors and some paper circulars painted in different colours.

Phases of the Moon

Another activity using card that we have a led with groups before is this simple moon phase craft.

You probably know that the view of the moon we see at night changes, and we call this the phases of the moon. Draw circles on yellow or white card, and some on blue or black card. Cut the yellow circles into the shapes that look like the phases of the moon, and stick them onto the blue circles.

Colour circles of paper showing the phases of the Moon being help up by a hand. Punch a hole at each side of each circle, and tie them together with string in the right order. You could also try making the phases of the moon (or stars or planets) out of clay or playdough.


Galaxy Pictures

If you have some chalk, you can make some great galaxy pictures on dark paper or card. Use different coloured chalk in swirling patterns, then rub the chalk with your finger to blend the colours together. If you have a silver or gold pen, this is good for adding details.

A childs hands drawing swirling circles in chalk on a piece of bllue cardThere are so many possibilities when using junk materials for modelling! Why not try making a rocket from a plastic bottle, cardboard, paint and tinfoil. Yoghurt pots and other plastic tubs could be used to create a space station. Maybe you could imagine what life would be like living on the moon, or on another planet!

Dark Skies Scene

If you happen to have a cardboard box, like a shoe box for example, you could try turning this into a dark skies scene by taking off the lid and putting the box on its side. Paint the cardboard black, use paint or tin foil to make stars, and hang home made planets or rockets from the ‘ceiling’ of the box. You could even paint spare buttons white or silver and stick them on as stars, or use fairy lights in the background.

The constallation of Orion made using buttons on cardDon’t forget, your art can be in digital format too! If you have a tablet or phone with an animation app you can make a film about the night sky, or use some of the crafts you have created to make an animation.

Send us your artwork

These are just some ideas – you can be as creative as you like, or just use them as a starting point, and use whatever materials you have at home to make your art.

If you can, try and have a look outside when its dark to see what you can see up in the night sky. If you can’t get outside, there are some great images of the dark skies of Northumberland on our website that will hopefully give you some inspiration.

To enter the competition, please email images of your artwork to, including your name, age, and the name of your school. The closing date is 27 February 2021. Good luck!

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