The Universe in the Classroom

A Flag for Your Planet

Family Handout

Someday, when people have begun to live on other planets or their moons, these worlds might develop their own flags. In this activity, you get to design a flag for your favorite world.

There are no rules yet for how to design a planet flag. The flag can just have colors and symbols, like many Earth flags do, or it might highlight some of your planet's most interesting places to visit.

For example, a Mars flag might have a red background, because the rusty sands of Mars look red from space. It could have some symbols representing weapons on it, because Mars was the god and planet of war in ancient mythology.

Or, if you hope the planet's future will be more peaceful, you could one of the red planet's most spectacular tourist sights on the flag, such as the giant volcano called Mount Olympus, which is almost three times the height of Mount Everest, the tallest mountain on Earth.

If you picked a world with no solid surface to stand on (such as Jupiter or Neptune), you might also come up with a scheme for displaying your flag? Is a flag without a flagpole OK? What would be some ways to show the flag that don't involve having solid ground?

Books on Flags

Znamierowski, Alfred: The World Encyclopedia of Flags: The Definitive Guide to International Flags, Banners, Standards, and Ensigns. 1999, Lorenz Books (256 pp).

Eyewitness Handbooks: Flags. 1999, Dorling Kindersley (240 pp).

Ultimate Pocket Flags of the World. 1997, Dorling Kindersley (240 pp).

Web Sites on Flags

Flags of the World: http://www.fotw.net/flags/
An amazing site with more than 9100 pages about flags and more than 16,400 images of flags, maintained by dedicated volunteers interested in "vexillology," the study of flags.

The Flag Detective: http://www.flags.av.org/flags/
This site allows you to figure out an unknown flag by the elements of its design. It's also great as a way of learning about the different elements that go into flags.

World Flags Database: http://www.flags.ndirect.co.uk/
A nice basic site in which each country's flags are accompanied by information about that country.

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