The Night Sky...and Astronomy 101

College course catalogs really should include more detail.  
For example: A description of Astronomy 101 might read like,  
"Introductory astronomy course focusing on general physical conditions under which life is thought to arise and evolve in the universe. Topics include historical astronomy, gravitation and planetary orbits, the solar system. Blah, blah..."

It should also include a sentence like this,  
"Hey, silly 17-year-old girl...we will not be discussing our "favorite constellations," or making trips to the observatory with picnics and cute boys, nor will we be discussing why you are "so a Libra."  That's astroLoGY; this is astroNoMY."

Just a suggestion, colleges. 

PS...astronomy = math.  And not fun math, either.  Unless you're into the whole physics thing.

In case you *were* wondering what my favorite constellation is, it's this guy...

So, let's start our own astronomy class, shall we?  Cookies, picnic at the observatory, cute boy, Linda Goodman's Sun Signs.  Sign me up.

Let's make Constellation Cookies.  You'll need:

  • sugar cookies, square or circle will work
  • royal icing divided and tinted dark blue (using AmeriColor Navy Blue mixed with Super Black) and light gold (store the gold icing in the fridge until day 2)
  • couplers and tips: #2, #1
  • disposable icing bags
  • squeeze bottle
  • toothpicks
  • constellation print-outs (printed to fit your cookie size)
  • push-pin
  • meringue powder
  • small paintbrush
  • disco dust
Use a #2 tip to outline the cookies in blue icing.

Thin the remaining blue icing with water, a bit at a time, stirring with a silicone spatula, until it is the consistency of a thick syrup.  You'll want to drop a "ribbon" of icing back into the bowl and have it disappear in a count of "one thousand one, one thousand two." Four is too thick, one is too thin.  Count of 2-3 is good.  Cover with a damp dishcloth and let sit for several minutes.

Stir gently with a silicone spatula to pop and large air bubbles that have formed.  Pour into squeeze bottle.

Fill in the outlines with the thinned icing. Use a toothpick to guide to edges and pop large air bubbles.

Let the cookies dry uncovered 6-8 hours, or overnight.

The next day, place the print-outs of the constellations on the cookies, and use a clean push-pin to press into the dried icing to mark where to pipe the stars.

Use a #2 tip to pipe stars over the push-pin holes in gold icing.

Switch the tip to a #1 and pipe lines to connect the stars in the constellations.

Let the cookies dry for one hour.

Mix 1/4 teaspoon meringue powder with 1/4 teaspoon water.  Brush onto the stars using a small, clean paintbrush.  Sprinkle on the disco dust. (I do this over a coffee filter to catch the excess.) Shake off excess and brush with a dry paintbrush.  (This will not remove every bit of the stray disco dust, but it looks pretty, I think.)
Let the cookies dry 30 minutes before packaging.

Do you have a favorite constellation?  Discuss.

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