New Mouse Constellation Chosen By Children

The night sky has a new, albeit temporary, constellation: a mouse dubbed ?Wee Sleekit Beastie? by a Scottish schoolgirl.

The mouse was the winning entry for a competition to design a new constellation for the International Year of Astronomy (IYA 2009), which is this year.

The mouse (whose named means "Ode to a Mouse") was created by Laura, a year 7 pupil at Dalmeny Primary School in Edinburgh. She received the award from Liz Lochead, the Scottish Poet Laureate, in a ceremony in the planetarium at Glasgow Science Centre on Tuesday.

In the Constellation Project for IYA 2009, 8 schools across the country were linked to an important astronomy site and selected a star whose distance in light years corresponded to the site's age. For example, children at Coupar Angus Primary School were linked to the Mills Observatory in Dundee, built in 1935. Their star, Aldebaran is 65 light-years away, so the light observed began shining a little after the observatory opened.

The children at the eight schools used the eight selected stars as the framework for their constellations. More than 200 pupils sent in entries.

At the presentation ceremony, Lochead recited her poem "From a Mouse" and the giant mouse constellation, and other winning entries, were projected on the planetarium dome.

"Science is fun and extremely fascinating. There is so much to learn. Astronomy is my main interest now and I will stick with it for life I hope," Laura said.