Space Telescope & Starshade 

Some telescopes in space have starshades, which help to block out the light of other stars so the telescope can better see an exoplanet.  Learn about this cool device, then construct a model of the telescope and starshade.

Video Courtesy NASA

Image Simulation Courtesy NASA

Telescope and Starshade Build

  • Toothpick

  • Scissor

  • Tape

  • Optional: White Crayon

  • Optional: Black Marker

  • Printable Cutout Sheets for this Activity (Found at the Bottom of Cosmoto's "Week 5" Site Page)

Step 1

Cut out all items on the cutout sheets, as shown below.

Step 2

Roll up the gray square cutout into a cylinder, so that the diameter of the cylinder is slightly smaller than the center of the yellow hexagon cutout.  Then, use tape to hold the cylinder in place.

Step 3

About an inch from one end of the cylinder, use a toothpick (or ballpoint pen) to make small holes on opposite sides of the cylinder, as pictured below.  Make sure a toothpick fits cleanly through both holes, as shown in this picture.


Then, remove the toothpick. Have an adult help with this step. 

Step 4

Using a toothpick or ballpoint pen, make 2 holes through both circles on the golden rectangle cutout.  Have an adult help with this step. Then, fold the rectangle on the gray lines to make an open cube, as shown below. Tape the sides of the cube together.

Step 5

Attach double-sided tape or rolls of tape to the two inner sides of the open cube, where there are no holes. These pieces of tape should be placed on opposite sides of each other.  

Step 6

Carefully slide the open cube over the cylinder.  Position the open cube so that the holes in the cube line up with the holes on the cylinder.  


Attach the cube to the cylinder by pressing the pieces of tape inside the cube to the cylinder.


Then, insert a toothpick through the holes in both the cube and cylinder, as pictured below.

Step 7

Optional: Next to each gridline on the solar panel, draw lines with white crayon.  Ensure that this is done on all sides so that a white gridline pattern is created.


 Then, color over the white crayon markings on the solar panel cutouts with a black marker.

Step 8

Tape the solar panel cutouts to each end of the toothpick, as pictured below. 

Step 9

Fold the remaining gray cutout along the black lines. Tape it to the other end of the space telescope, as shown below.

Step 10

On the yellow starshade cutout, use a pencil or pen (without making any marks) to crease each curve on the star shade that is designated with a "M" or "V".  Do this by running the pencil or pen along the curve. This step will allow for easier folding in the next step.

Step 11

On the curves, labeled "M", fold upwards (mountain fold). On the curves labeled "V", fold inwards (valley fold).  Make sure to carefully fold each part of the curve.  Your folds should be crisp and complete.  Have an adult with this step if necessary.

Step 12

Wrap the starshade inwards by wrapping the creases from the center and going outwards. This step may take some time! Have an adult help with this step. After expanding and contracting the starshade multiple times, it should become easier to open and close the starshade.

Step 13

Insert the back of the space telescope inside center of the starshade. You have now completed your model of the space telescope and starshade!

Images of Pillars of Creation, Future Mars Base, Curiosity Rover, Milky Way, Moon, and International Space Station are courtesy of NASA. Image of Earth's atmosphere courtesy of Science Museum of Exploration.