Explore out of this world, with the Explore Your World backpack planisphere

What is the Explore Your World backpack?
The Explore Your World Backpack kit is available for free at any Sarasota County Library.

The weather is getting cool! Need something to do outside?

The Explore Your World backpack kit is one of three backpacks designed by UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County in partnership with Sarasota County Libraries. It is designed to help explorers of all ages get outside and explore their world.

Each Explore Your World kit packs all you’ll need to get started, including items, books, and activities designed to inspire exploration for all ages… from your neighborhood to nature! Available for free check-out at all Sarasota County Libraries locations, this kit is a fun and educational option for families with children or relatives with visiting children. Includes activity guide in Spanish.

The Planisphere
20° 30° Planisphere

A planisphere is a tool that helps beginners or experienced star gazers to find stars and constellations in the sky. The planisphere in the Explore Your World backpack kit is made for those living in the Sarasota County area. This is because the stars that you see differ depending on your latitude. See the video below to learn how it works!

The best areas to use the planisphere are places with little light pollution such as beaches, rural areas, or natural areas/parks.

Fun activities with the Planisphere:
The Stargazer
  • Use a compass to help you face directly north or south, then choose the correct side of the planisphere for the direction you are facing.

    The Big Dipper. Photo from Pixabay
  • Turn the dial on the planisphere to match the date with the current time.
  • The white area at the top of the planisphere will show what stars you are able to see on that time and date. See the video below for further instructions on how to use a planisphere.
  • Try to find the Ursa Major, aka the Big Dipper. This constellation is visible year-round in Sarasota.
  • Now, can you find the Ursa Minor, aka the Little Dipper? The handle of the little dipper is the North Star.


    • A great horned owl. Image by Iulian Ursache from Pixabay.
The Nocturnal Investigator
  • While you’re outside stargazing, keep your eye out for nocturnal animals! Nocturnal animals are most active at night. For examples, bats, owls, and racoons are all nocturnal.
  • If you find one, ask yourself: what special adaptations does this animal have that helps it survive at night? What does the animal eat? Where do they live?
Take our survey for a chance to win a free prize!

Once you explore all the fun items inside, take the survey on the back of the Explore Your World activity guide to enter a drawing for a chance to win a prize!

An Equal Opportunity Institution. UF/IFAS Extension, University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension. Sarasota County prohibits discrimination in all services, programs or activities. View the complete policy at www.scgov.net/ADA.

Posted: January 11, 2021

Category: Conservation, Natural Resources, Recreation
Tags: Activitykit, Constellations, Explore Your World Backpack, Nature, Pgm_EcoNR, Science, Stars

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