Watching the Summer Night Sky, Grades 9-12
Science Lessons, Activities & Curriculum Resources
Now that summer is approaching, brush up your stargazing skills and get ready to enjoy humankind's first TV, the night sky. These lessons, activities, and resources will help you locate and identify celestial objects with equipment as basic as your own eyes.
Lesson Plans & Activities
Seeing the Invisible: Dust in the Universe
Students in grades K-12 explore the properties of dust and the astronomical research of dust in space with three grade-appropriate inquiry based activities.
Students in grades 9-12 measure the angles of refraction of laser light traveling through gelatin, then plot their data to calculate the gelatin’s index of refraction.
Journey into Spectroscopy
Students in grades 9-12 construct their own spectroscope and observe spectra of familiar light sources.
Additional Lesson Plans
- StarDate Online: Lessons Plans (K-12)
- McDonald Observatory: Classroom Activities & Resources (K-12)
- Amazing Space: Teaching Tools (K-12)
Live from McDonald Observatory - Videoconference Program
Videoconferences are 50-minute, fully interactive connections between one class (or student club) of up to 35 students and a McDonald Observatory facilitator. Versions for grades 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12 are available. Rates are $100 per interactive 50-minute videoconference, or $60 for "view-only" classroom.
http://setiathome.berkeley.edu/ (grades 6-12)
This scientific experiment uses Internet-connected computers in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). You can participate by running a free program that downloads and analyzes radio telescope data. SETI@Home is a U.C. Berkeley program funded with grants from the National Science Foundation and NASA.
Galaxy Zoo: Hubble (grades 6-12)
Help scientists classify galaxies according to their shapes.
Human Space Flight (HSF) - Realtime Data
See the ISS in your own backyard. This "applet" uses up-to-the-minute data from Mission Control to project the path the spacecraft (ISS) will make across the sky.
gSky Browser: Explore Astronomy, HubbleSite
Search the night sky using Google Earth, zooming in on astronomical objects at their precise location in the heavens. Requires installation of the latest version of Google Earth.
Finding Hubble in the WorldWide Telescope: Explore Astronomy, HubbleSite
WorldWide Telescope provides guided tours of celestial objects. Listen to Hubble astronomers explain the scientific stories behind the images. Requires installation of Microsoft Research's free WorldWide Telescope (WWT) software.
HubbleSite Reference Desk
Get the facts: answers to basic questions about astronomy and Hubble, figures and charts, and dictionary definitions for astronomical terms.
- Interactive Sky Chart
Interactive sky chart and photo gallery. Requires free registration.
- This Week's Sky at a Glance
Daily celestial events. Requires free registration.
SKYCAL: Sky Events Calendar, NASA (K-12)
SKYCAL (Sky Events Calendar) will help you keep track of the sky by calculating the local date and time of all these celestial happenings. It displays them on a convenient calendar that you can print and hang on the wall. You can generate a calendar for a single month or for an entire year. Just choose your Time Zone.
- NASA Online (K-12)
NASA Learning Modules, Simulations, and Activities
- Space Science Education Resource Directory, NASA (K-12)
Download activities and resources.
- Education Materials, NASA (K-12)
Search by grade, medium, or topic.
- International Space Station, NASA (K-12)
- Out of the Ordinary...Out of This World, HubbleSite (K-12)
- Stargazing Basics (grades 3-12)
- News & Observing - Astronomy Magazine (grades 9-12)
Quizzes & Printables
Way Out!, HubbleSite (grades 3-12)
Three levels of a cosmic trivia quiz game starring a cow that jumps over the moon and beyond the Milky Way.
- Earth Science Astronomy Games (grades 9-12)
Make a Star Wheel!
Make and use this simple Planisphere or Star Wheel to navigate the night sky.
Create Your Own Planisphere
Two wheels: one with the basic constellations, another with coordinate grid.
Star Finder – Star Chart
Wheel and directions for making a light-shielding viewer from cereal box.
Audio & Video
Radio’s Guide to the Universe, StarDate Online
StarDate tells listeners what to look for in the night sky, and explains the science, history, and skylore behind these objects.
SkyWatch: It's a Big Sky, HubbleSite
Highlights news from the world of astronomy. Listen via computer or MP3 player to the latest discoveries. SkyWatch also includes HubbleWatch, a round-up of news from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.
Hunting the Edge of Space, PBS NOVA
NOVA examines how a simple instrument, the telescope, has fundamentally changed our understanding of our place in the universe. Watch online; 2 Parts: 52: 55 and 52:55.
Piercing the Sky
History of modern telescopes and astronomy.
Videos – Astronomy Magazine
The editors of Astronomy magazine bring you the latest science, new products, hobby tips, and more.