by John Riggio
Do you remember the first time you went to a planetarium? I do. I was just a kid, but I remember sitting there in awe as the circular room went dark, and the director began to explain the night sky. I remember him asking our class what we'd get if we stepped on a beetle. The answer? Betelgeuse! [insert groans here] (That's a star located in the constellation Orion.) But it was pretty amazing to see the night sky all lit up like that, and while I could see some stars where we lived, there was too much light pollution to get a really great view. Before the light bulb, however, there was no light pollution to compete with the heavens, so people could see the stars, and even relied on them for navigation.
There are eighty-eight constellations in all, but this song only mentions a few of them. Constellations were invented by the ancients to help us recognize the stars. They make the night sky more manageable, and this in turn allows us to keep track of the calendar and even navigate by those stars. Even today, the U.S. Navy trains its personnel to navigate by the stars, in addition to using GPS.
This song has a spacey feel to it, complete with sound effects and synthesizers. The vocal line is easy to sing with no syncopation, although the optional responses in bars 12 and 18 go up to a high E, so you may want a select group to sing those.
This song is also cross curricular, so if your school's science teacher is doing a unit on astronomy, this would be a good way to team up on the learning in a fun way. Incidentally, you may have learned different pronunciations for the constellations mentioned in this song, and that's okay (Cassiopeia and Canis come to mind). I have heard them pronounced different ways through the years, some by seasoned professors, so please feel free to modify them as you see fit. - JR
Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.