DIY: Constellation Jar

May 21, 2012

I asked Amy of This Heart of Mine for a project that would be fun for kids or adults. I love that she thought of star-gazing! We’re so far into the countryside, that the stars here are outrageously bright. It’s awesome! — Gabrielle

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Star gazing is one of my favorite things. Ever since learning about them in junior high, I’ve loved looking upwards and pointing out the constellations I could remember and being in awe of their impressive sight. With summer right around the corner, I have hopes of spending a few late nights gazing at them again.

Because of my love of the stars, when my daughter was little, I purchased her a night light that shines stars all over her bedroom walls. After seeing a few light-filled jars on Pinterest, I had an idea to fill a jar with the constellations — and I was able to do it using items I had around the house!

What you’ll need:
- a wide mouth jar – The jar needs to be wide enough to fit the small click light inside. A pickle jar works great.
- a disposable cake pan
- small click light, like these
-an awl
- scissors

Cut a strip of the cake pan long enough to fit around inside the jar and tall enough to reach to the very top of the jar. Use a spoon to brandish out any writing or crinkled parts.

Use the awl to poke holes for the constellations. Mine are not accurately placed, it is only a small strip of aluminum after all. I included Hercules, the Big Dipper, the Little Dipper, Draco, Cassiopeia, Cepheus, Orion, Cancer and Gemini.

I connected the constellation dots with a silver Sharpie to make them easier to spot.

Fill in the other space with more holes. Make the holes smaller than the ones used to make the constellations because it will set the constellations apart.

Roll the aluminum sheet until it fits snug inside the jar. Hold the circle in place by cutting two tabs and folding them in opposite directions.

Put the encircled aluminum sheet inside the jar. Turn the click light on and place the it inside. Top with the lid. I spray painted my jar lid. It’s looks nicer and smells less like pickles.

Take into a dark room and enjoy.

The night sky in a holdable form. I connected the dots below so you can see them too. The Little Dipper, the Big Dipper, Draco and part of Orion.

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{ 68 comments… read them below or add one }

1 susan May 21, 2012 at 8:25 am

Now I know one of the summer projects I will make with my kids:)

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2 Martha R May 21, 2012 at 8:27 am

My daughter just took a school trip to a planetarium and was IN LOVE with it – this will keep her enthusiasm I’m sure! Thanks!

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3 Design Mom May 21, 2012 at 8:59 am

Ohhhh. Speaking of school, wouldn’t this be fun to do as a classroom project?

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4 TARA August 31, 2012 at 6:16 pm

You may need to see if the pan could cut the kids fingers before you do it in a classroom, but I love this idea!

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5 Sarah June 10, 2013 at 8:00 am

I just sliced up my fingers badly while making one of these…. beware! But it is so cute, it was definitely worth the bandaids!

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6 Jackie May 20, 2014 at 9:51 am

I would like to try this using black construction paper instead of a foil sheet. It may be safer but not as shiny. I have done this with black construction paper, baby food jars and a hole puncher for a halloween party but larger as a night light would be truly awesome for a kids room.

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7 Jennifer F. - American Mom in Bordeaux May 21, 2012 at 8:30 am

Great project…will definitely have to add that one to Wed. afternoon craft time with the kids! What fun! Thanks for the idea.

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8 juliagblair May 21, 2012 at 8:38 am

Marvelous project! So fun and worth every minute it takes. Thanks millions for sharing!

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9 Heather @ That Uncomfortable Itch May 21, 2012 at 8:55 am

This is so wonderful. Thank you for sharing!

Here in Colorado we are super below in water levels and it looks like there will be no open flames this summer. These would be great -and safe- in the bigger, half gallon Mason Jars and set out on the patio for a summer evenings.

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10 Design Mom May 21, 2012 at 8:58 am

Heather! I love that idea. Brilliant.

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11 Melissa@Julia's Bookbag May 21, 2012 at 9:32 am

I so rarely see the stars that I used to love seeing at my home in Hawaii (the grey Pac NW does not make for good star-gazing) — I think this project is a must for my daughter and I!

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12 Dervla @ The Curator May 21, 2012 at 10:02 am

I keep promising my three year old I’ll get her stars for her ceiling but this is a much more fun project to do together. And cheaper!

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13 Marisa @ Where's the party? May 21, 2012 at 10:21 am

I love this! Thank you for sharing… easy and beautiful :)

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14 Natalie May 21, 2012 at 10:24 am

This would be a perfect addition to the stargazing party that I’m planning. They’d make cute lanterns for the tabletops and shine beautifully once it got dark.

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15 Suzanne @ The Wine{a}be May 21, 2012 at 10:47 am

Wow! Very cool! Definitely a great summer project! Can’t wait to try it!

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16 Maria May 21, 2012 at 10:54 am

I wonder if you could glue the light onto the lid and place the jar upside down to avoid the gap? Or would it just be distorted? Just a thought. I’ll experiment soon! Great idea, my girlies will love it!
PS-had Blue Lily shoot and they are fantastic!

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17 Andrea Graf May 21, 2012 at 11:32 am

I love this SOOOOOOOOOOOO MUCH!!!!!!!! Thank you!

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18 Zakka Life May 21, 2012 at 11:37 am

When I clicked on the full tutorial, I was surprised how simple it was. I’ve got everything except the click light. I’m hoping an electric tea light will work just as well. Going to test it out with the kids later today.

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19 shalini May 21, 2012 at 11:53 am

What an amazing idea! And you’ve made it look so simple. Thanks for sharing, I’ll definitely be trying it out, as soon as I find one of those click lights.

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20 Christi May 21, 2012 at 12:57 pm

What a fantastic idea! I can’t wait to try this!

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21 se7en May 21, 2012 at 1:21 pm

Very clever project!!! Love it!!!

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22 Jeanne May 21, 2012 at 1:49 pm

So lovely! This is a perfect nightlight. It would also be beautiful in a bunch of big jars for a night wedding reception!
-Jeanne
http://www.domesticspace com

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23 Jenny May 21, 2012 at 2:26 pm

What a fantastic idea. Would make a great nightlight for my daughter or would be fun for little lights outdoors on a summer night too. Love it!

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24 Kelleyn May 21, 2012 at 3:17 pm

What a cool idea! Reminds me of the exhibit your sister saw in Copenhagen.

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25 the sleepy time gal May 21, 2012 at 5:47 pm

very cool. thanks for the idea.

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26 Gina May 22, 2012 at 8:28 am

I love this even more than the glow in the dark jars, I’ve seen! Thank you for this one. I can’t wait and will even try it will my 8 year old English Class.

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27 Anna Larson May 22, 2012 at 8:59 am

Thanks so much for sharing this. How sweet of you …

Anna :)

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28 Betsy May 22, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Amazing! I am having a space themed bday party for my 3 year old. These would be great decorations or even take homes in a small version. Really cool!

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29 Lisa May 22, 2012 at 1:30 pm

I LOVE this project! I have seen star night lights that are really expensive and they don’t even have constellations on them. My husband would love to make this for a future nursery! Thanks for sharing!

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30 Isabel May 22, 2012 at 2:15 pm

My kids and I made these yesterday. My son who will be 11 in July wasn’t in the mood to do a craft project with his 3 year old sister. However, when I asked him to help me chose a constellation he joined in. He found the constellation Leo in one of his space books. My three year old was fine with just poking holes in the aluminum tray that we used. Once lit it still looked stars.
Tip: make sure they holes are big enough that the light will shine through them.
Happy star gazing!

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31 Mel McCarthy May 23, 2012 at 10:02 pm

Amazing and gorgeous! Thanks for showing us how to make it.

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32 wtmontana May 24, 2012 at 7:36 pm

Love this idea! So bookmarking this. Thanks :)

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33 Sonja May 24, 2012 at 9:37 pm

Amazing! Can’t wait to try this with my kids.

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34 Jude A Trifle Rushed May 24, 2012 at 10:34 pm

What a fabulous idea, I love the Stars in France, we have an amazing night sky in Brittany, so much better then London. I’m going to make one of these in the summer with my daughter, and make sure I use sone of the constellations that we can see. Thank you.

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35 J May 25, 2012 at 11:44 am

Adorable!

(ps. you mean “burnish”, not “brandish” when you’re talking about smoothing out the aluminum!)

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36 cathy huer May 26, 2012 at 8:46 am

hiya, I made two of these for my boys and they loved them… thanks for a fab idea.

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37 Charissa May 28, 2012 at 4:42 pm

What a beautiful idea! Love how you did real constellations!

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38 Ashley May 28, 2012 at 8:04 pm

I’m just wondering, how long do these lights last? Do they have batteries you can replace? If so, what kind? And how does the on/off work? Do you have to try and maneuver the light in and out of the jar each time?

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39 Mariam May 31, 2012 at 5:11 am

Ashley.. The L.E.D light shown in the image works by pressing the glass in the middle, this could be done with the end of a pencil or something without removing the light from the jar.. The take AAA batteries and last quite a long time & the bulbs themselves, being L.E.Ds, will last yonks too :)

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40 deana June 5, 2014 at 8:26 pm

I think attaching the led light to the bottom of the jar lid with velcro or 2 sided tape might make the light a little easier to get to.

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41 Lexy @ The Proper Pinwheel June 1, 2012 at 11:55 am

This is amazing! I think I’ll make one. I don’t have any children, but I’m sure my dog would get a kick out of this! :) What a great tutorial!

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42 alya June 11, 2012 at 9:16 am

your very creative! :D

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43 frank June 11, 2012 at 8:52 pm

wow what a great idea, i love how this is so simple and easy to do! do you think if i spry painted the jar instead of using tin foil will have the same effect? and what would i do if i wanted to make a larger scale out of this project, how would i actually install on the room light?

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44 Jamie B November 3, 2012 at 2:28 pm

I love this neat constellation jar! I think it’s amazing and love that it can be made without having to purchase a lot of expensive materials. I hope that it’s okay, I just finished a frugal crafts round-up and just couldn’t resist featuring this. You can see it here: http://jamiebrock.hubpages.com/hub/Frugal-Crafts-15-Easy-Craft-Ideas

I also linked to this heArt of mine and let her know as well. Thank you so much for sharing :)

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45 Cheyenne November 24, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Great idea! Thanks for sharing!!!

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46 Maja K November 27, 2012 at 12:46 am

What a wonderful idea! :) I love it!
Do you know by any chance where I could get the small led click light?

Do you think it would be practical to put a candle inside the jar rather than a led light?

Thank you for insipiring post!

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47 little raven November 28, 2012 at 11:48 pm

We made these using coffee cans. Fill them with water, freeze to hold the shape, use hammer and nails to punch the holes, let water melt and done. No cuttung involved.
Lots of tutorials for these on the web, look for can lanterns.

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48 Pat December 3, 2012 at 9:45 am

Looks like a wonderful craft to use this summer with the kids who come camping at the state park.
I am wondering what the “stars” would look like if the holes where punched with the tip of a Phillips screwdriver. (I think I will try the small to medium head Phillips as they kind of already look like stars.) Will have to be careful not to punch too deeply or will lose the pattern.

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49 A.L. Designs Jewelry December 14, 2012 at 5:31 am

Super great tutorial and they look so beautiful.

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50 Gracie December 27, 2012 at 4:55 pm

would this work with aluminum foil?

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51 Carissa February 5, 2013 at 12:34 am

I’m so glad I found this post! I actually found your project on pinterest on this site: http://www.surprisediy.com/diy-249.html, which appears to have scraped your content. So you may want to look into that if you did not give them your images.

All that to say….I think your project is awesome! I started trying to find the original source because we are planning to feature it on Dollar Store Crafts sometime in the next week.

All the Best,
Carissa
Dollarstorecrafts.com

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52 Rikelle February 17, 2013 at 3:30 am

Fantastic idea! Thanks for sharing!

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53 Jacqueline Marie April 13, 2013 at 11:08 am

Thanks for this so creative idea! Just found it and have shared your page link here as suggested family project. Also have given another inner version of applying it imaginatively. See here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Inner-Universe/565681800110195

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54 elizabeth durham May 16, 2013 at 1:55 pm

i am 11 years old and in looking for a constellation handmade project for school and i drifted to this website your very creative and i think i just found my handmade project thanks and keep up all the good work your doing

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55 Simsim June 30, 2013 at 1:20 am

We love this post and have added it to our round up of constellation crafts! Hope thats OK?! xxx
http://buttonsandpaint.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/obsessionsconstellations.html

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56 shashalina July 14, 2013 at 12:41 am

Do you think you cpuld put a tea candle instead of a light??

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57 Elma Ilona August 3, 2013 at 9:16 pm

Totally awesome! We are so doing this!

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58 Kathy October 20, 2013 at 5:16 pm

Made one of these years ago…we used a sturdy piece of paper (color doesnt matter) or light weight cardboard and covered it with aluminum foil…drew the constellations on the uncovered side of the paper and poked them out…connected the dots on the foil side and punched smaller holes to fill in…taped it together, put it in the jar with a battery operated tea light…no fuss, no muss, no sharp edges, therefore no bandages needed…my daughter did this with a daisy/brownie troop when she was a program aid at day camp.

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59 hayam November 9, 2013 at 2:15 am

I Love it so much :) thanks

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60 Anwesha January 26, 2014 at 10:15 am

Hey, this is beautiful. I want to make one for my brother. Do I paint the sheet blue?

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61 Bernadette February 15, 2014 at 10:50 am

If you tape aluminum foil to a thin piece of cardboard like a cereal box or poster board,then punch the holes, it would not be sharp and would be easier for the kids to do themselves. It would still be flexible enough to roll and put in the jar also.

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62 deana June 5, 2014 at 8:28 pm

Just saw this post and I cant wait to try it!! I think attaching the LED light to the bottom of the jar lid with velcro or 2 sided tape would make the light easier to get to

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63 Lit June 7, 2014 at 10:31 pm

We are trying to mAke your constellation jars or a party ad was wondering why your jar is blue.

Thank you .

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64 Katie murby June 30, 2014 at 2:28 am

What a great idea thank you for sharing, I am going to try this with my daughter over the summer school holidays x

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65 Ella lopez August 8, 2014 at 2:19 pm

Love this its perfect for a sleepover!

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66 Myra Steinberg Derry August 18, 2014 at 6:19 pm

I love the looks of this!

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67 Brenda September 29, 2014 at 7:35 pm

I love this idea! As a retired teacher, I am always looking for fun ways for kids to learn. I do kids night for 3-12 year olds and this is a winner!! I always had the glow in the dark stars on the ceiling in my kids rooms, and they even arranged them into constellations. I can’t wait to play around with this. I have the lights- closet push -on lights from Target, WalMart, etc. Thank you!!!

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68 Natalie December 17, 2014 at 6:53 pm

Do you think it would work the same if I just used Reynolds Wrap aluminum foil?

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