Page Contents
OverviewQuestions to PonderAstronomy SurveyHow Much is a Million? - video
Observing the ImageThe Moon
external image my-solar-system-screenshot.pngMy Solar System - labA Day on EarthA Tour of the Solar SystemDistances in the Solar System - videoHubble Ultra Deep FieldOur Place in the Universe - videoLife Cycle of a Star
Who Killed Pluto?
Find Someone Who . . .Size Comparison Video - videoThe Asteroid BeltAstronomy NotesQuizlet FlashcardsQuestions.pngAstronomy QuizAstronomy Review Prezi
Astronomy Links

Objects in our Solar System are related in many different ways. During this unit we will investigate and discuss these relationships while exploring humankind's past and present understandings of the cosmos.
Go to Astronomy Objectives

Questions to Ponder
  • Why does the moon stay in orbit around the Earth?
  • How would you design a model of the Solar System? What would you use? How big would it be?
  • How are objects in space related to each other?
  • Place the following terms in order: Universe, Solar System, Galaxy

Astronomy Survey
Take this survey to let me know what you know about Astronomy.

How Much is a Million?
During the Astronomy Unit we will discuss a lot of things that are really big and can only be described with numbers like one million (1,000,000) and one billion (1,000,000,000.) Check out this video to see how big those numbers really are!

A Tour of the Solar System

Mars Science Laboratory Rover (Curiosity) Animation

Distances in the Solar System

The Earth as a Peppercorn

Observing the Image
Objects in our solar system have many similarities and differences. In this activity you will be making observations of 6 different images of solar system objects, looking specifically for shapes, patterns and colors. We will share our descriptions with each other and see how complete our observations are!
Begin by copying this form:
Image _
Image _
Image _
Image _
Image _
Image _
  • note - on the website, the instructions require you to observe 10 images - we will do 6

The activity is broken up into parts:
Begin with part I - observing and classifying unknown images
Continue with part II - find out what the images are
Finish with developing a classification system with the whole class.

Hubble Ultra Deep Field
The Hubble Space Telescope is one of NASA's greatest achievements. It was placed in orbit by a space shuttle on April 24, 1990. Named after the famous astronomer, Edwin Hubble, this telescope has provided images of space that have given us insight into the size and history of the universe. Watch this trailer for the Hubble 3D IMAX movie:

Hubble's Ultra Deep Field image is the most detailed visible-light image ever made of the universe's most distant objects.
  1. Observe the Hubble Deep Field Image. Use the mouse to zoom into different areas of the picture.
  2. Many of the images you see are galaxies that contain billions of stars. Draw diagrams in your science notebook of at least three different looking images in the pictures. Describe each one with a caption (1-2 sentences.)
  3. Now, go to Kid's to learn about the names of the three kinds of galaxies. Label each of the different types of galaxies in your notebook. Did you miss one? Add it in!
  4. watch the following wrap-up video:

Our Place in the Universe

Carl Edward Sagan (November 9, 1934 – December 20, 1996) was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author and highly successful science popularizerand science communicator in the space and natural sciences. During his lifetime, he published more than 600 scientific papers and popular articles and was author, co-author, or editor of more than 20 books. In his works, he advocated skeptical inquiry and the scientific method. He pioneered exobiologyand promoted the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI).

Life Cycle of a Star
In Science class you have probably learned about a few cycles, like the water cycle and the rock cycle. The stars that we see in the sky at night along with our own sun (a star as well) also goes through a "life" cycle. Of course, a star is not alive but it is helpful to compare the stages that they go through to our stages of life.
To learn more about the Star Cycle, check out the following Active Art link, complete the activity and then complete the quiz.

The Moon

The Moon Phases Explained

Why the Moon Stays in Orbit
The Moon orbits or revolves around the Earth once approximately every 28 days. It takes this same amount of time to rotate on its axis one time, which is why we only ever see one side of the moon from Earth. Why doesn't the moon just go flying off into space, or worse yet, come crashing down onto Earth?

Sir Isaac Newton
When you hear somebody say the word "gravity" do you imagine an apple falling out of a tree? If so, you are thinking about Sir Isaac Newton, the English scientist who, when seeing that fruit fall, started wondering why the moon stayed in orbit around the earth. Check out this article about the life of Sir Isaac Newton.
While reading the article, use this form to record some facts and questions you may have -

Try this activity:
  • 1 coin
  • 1 3 x 5 index card
  • 1 clean, dry cup (beaker, coffee mug, etc.)

  1. Place the index card on top of the mug.
  2. Place the coin on top of the index card, centering it over the mug.
  3. Make a prediction:Try it both ways. When pulling the card out from under the coin, be sure to hold the mug in place with your other hand.
    • What will happen when you pull the index card out slowly?
    • What will happen when you pull the index card out quickly?
  4. What happened? Why?

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When the coin dropped into the mug instead of sliding with the card it was demonstrating Newton's first law of motion: "An object at rest will stay at rest and an object in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by a force."
Newton called an object's tendency to stay in motion Inertia (in-er-sha.) You feel the force of inertia when you are riding in a car and the driver suddenly slams on the breaks or quickly turns. In each case, you tend to continue moving in the direction you were traveling. This is just like the coin and the index card. When you pull the card out you are only exerting force on the card, not the coin. Therefore, the coin continues downward, pulled by gravity into the cup.
Newton realized that the moon is being acted upon by two forces; gravity and inertia. The gravity of the earth keeps the moon from flying off into space while the moon's inertia keeps it moving around the earth.

Applying the Ideas
The sun is 1,000,000 times bigger than the Earth and has a much stronger gravitational pull. If this is true, why doesn't the Earth
simply fall into the sun?
Answer this question here.

external image my-solar-system-screenshot.png

My Solar System - Lab
Build your own system of heavenly bodies and watch the gravitational ballet. With this orbit simulator, you can set initial positions, velocities, and masses of 2, 3, or 4 bodies, and then see them orbit each other.

  1. Go to:
  2. Click Run Now! to start the applet “My Solar System.”
  3. Move the slider all the way to accurate, and click on the grid.
  4. Click the radio button for 4 bodies and run the simulation until the purple planet (body 2) has made one complete orbit (one year).
  5. After the first orbit (year), turn off the traces (show traces box) and watch another orbit (year) of the purple planet (body 2).
    • Question One: Is blue moon (body 3) circling the yellow sun (body 1) or the purple planet (body 2)? Explain your answer.
  6. Reset the simulation. Increase the mass of the sun (body 1) to 400 and allow the simulation to run for one complete orbit of the purple planet (body 2).
  7. Reset the Simulation. Decrease the mass of the sun (body 1) to 175 and allow the simulation to run for one complete orbit of the purple planet (body 2). (~90 seconds)
    • Question Two: How do the orbits of the planets change when the mass of the sun is increased or decreased? Why? Explain your answer.
    • Question Three: Why does the sun (body 1) follow a circular path? How does the path change as its mass changes? Why? Explain your answer.

external image sjlogo.gif
A Day on Earth
Click here to review some facts about:
  • the cause of night and day
  • the length of a year on Earth and other planets
  • the reasons we have seasons

Who Killed Pluto?

Why Pluto is not longer a planet

Find Someone Who

Size Comparison
Did you ever wonder how the size of things in space compare to each other? Check out this video for a good idea just how small we really are!

Asteroid Belt
A lot of students ask me questions about the asteroid belt that is between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. The one question that keeps popping up is "how do we fly a spaceship through the field without it getting messed up?"
I found a great site called How Stuff Works that explains that question and many more. Check it out!

Astronomy Notes

Key Words
Definitions, Facts, Examples
Gravity and Motion

  • a push or a pull
  • can be when things are in contact and over long distances
  • attracts all objects to each other
  • discovered by Sir Isaac Newton
Law of Universal Gravitation
  • every object in the universe attracts every other object
  • the amount of matter in an object
  • mass always stays the same
  • the force of gravity on an object
  • changes depending on location
  • ex - you weigh less on the moon
gravity and distance
  • the strength of gravity is affected by distance
  • the farther the distance, the less strength
inertia (in-er-sha)
  • the tendency of an object to resist a change in motion
  • ex. - when you are riding in a car and someone puts on the brakes your body continues to move forward.
Newton's first law of motion
  • "An object at rest will stay at rest and an object in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by a force."
the moon
  • the combination of the forces of gravity and inertia are the reasons why the moon continues in its orbit around the earth
    • gravity keeps it from flying off into space
    • inertia keeps it moving around the earth and not crashing into it!
The Solar System
solar system
  • made up of
    • the sun
    • 8 planets
    • at least a dozen dwarf planets
    • moons of the planets
    • several kinds of smaller objects
    • all revolve around the sun
orbit or revolution
  • an object's path as it moves around the sun
  • ex - it takes the earth 365 days to orbit around the sun 1 time
  • when a planet or moon spins on its axis
  • ex - it take Venus 243 days to rotate one time
the inner planets
  • Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars
  • small planets with rocky surfaces
  • sometimes called terrestrial
the outer planets
  • Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune
  • large planets with no solid surface
  • solid core surrounded by gas
  • sometimes called gas giants
dwarf planets
  • Pluto, Sedna, Orcus, Quaoar, and many others
  • very small, rocky planets
smaller objects
  • comets, meteors, asteroids
  • orbit the sun
  • loose collections of ice, dust and small particles that revolve around the sun in long narrow orbits
  • chunks of rock in space
  • called a meteoroid while still in space
  • called a meteor when it hits the earths atmosphere and burns up
    • this is called a shooting star
  • called a meteorite if it hits the ground
  • rocky objects in space that are too small and too numerous to be considered planets
  • some are big enough to be called dwarf planets
    • ex. Ceres, Pallas
  • most orbit the sun between Mars and Jupiter
Stars, Galaxies, and The Universe
  • huge spheres of glowing gas
  • made mostly of hydrogen
  • creates energy through nuclear fusion
  • our sun
  • imaginary pictures of people or animals formed by the stars
  • ex. - the big dipper, Orion
  • a huge group of stars that are bound together by gravity
  • There are billions of galaxies in the universe
  • the largest have more than a trillion stars (1,000,000,000,000)
  • three types
    • spiral
    • elliptical
    • irregular
spiral galaxy
  • galaxy with a bulge in the middle and arms that spiral outward
  • looks like a pinwheel
  • our solar system is in a spiral galaxy called The Milky Way
elliptical galaxy
  • look like round or flattened balls
  • contain billions of stars
irregular galaxy
  • does not have a regular shape
  • usually smaller than other galaxies
the Universe
  • All of Space and EVERYTHING in it.

external image Quizlet-logo.jpg&sa=X&ei=3jVRTZXKL8Gltwf_4rXrCg&ved=0CAQQ8wc&usg=AFQjCNHzUgNTeuZFFiiDz8HK9SWlleqLfg
Astronomy - Online flashcards and games
Do you have an iPhone or iPod Touch? Use the Touchcards app to study your Quizlet flash-cards. For the Astronomy unit use the code - 3484244 to access the virtual cards.

Astronomy Quiz
Take this Astronomy Quiz to show what you have learned

Astronomy Review Prezi

Follow along with this worksheet as you view the Prezi.

Astronomy Review PDF

Astronomy Links