Astronomy Unit Outline for Homeschool Study


This outline was written by Charity Lovelace. It was published in Homeschooling Today September/October 1997 on pages 8 and 42. I was not given this outline until I had already begun teaching my class. Following Mrs. Lovelace's outline is the outline that I used for my class. I have included a few teaching hints. I have text only page to make it easier for printing. On another page of this site, I have a list of vocabulary words needed for the unit.

I. The Science of Astronomy

A. Famous astronomers and their contributions

1. Claudius Ptolemy
2. Tycho Brahe
3. Nicolaus Copernicus
4. Johannes Kepler
5. Gaileo Galilei
6. William Herschel
7. Sir Issac Newton
8. Christian Huygens
9. Edwin Hubble

B. Tools of astronomy

1. Telescopes and binoculars

a. Invention of the telescope
b. Invention of binoculars
c. Selecting telescopes and binoculars

2. Observatories And planetariums
3. Space probes and satellites
4. Space laboratories
5. Manned space missions

11. The Heavens

A. The Solar System

1. The sun

a. Its composition
b. Its structure
c. Surface
d. Light
e. Solar eclipse
f. Solar energy

2. The planets

a. Motion
b. Classification
c. Basic information

3. The Moon

a. Composition
b. Surface
c. Orbit
d. Lunar eclipse
e. Gravity

B. Stars

1. Composition

2. Starlight
3. Life cycle
4. Types
5. Constellations
6. Galaxies

C. Other Heavenly Bodies

1. Comets
2. The asteroid belt
3. Meteors
4. Meteorites



I did not teach my class in just this order. I used my own outline. It follows.

I. Celestial Coordinates

A. Celestial Sphere
B. Celestial Pole
C. Celestial Equator
D. Ecliptic
E. Right Ascension
F. Declination
G. Celestial Meridian
H. Zenith
I. Azimuth

II. Night and Day

III. Solar and Sidereal Day

IV. Seasons

A. autumnal equinox
B. vernal equinox
C. winter and summer solstices

V. The Stars

A. Seasonal Movement of the stars
B. Constellations

1. Origin
2. Circumpolar Constellations
3. Constellations for the four seasons
4. Zodiac
5. Asterisms

C. Distance
D. Magnitude
E. Stellar Spectra
F. Binary Star Systems
G. Variable Stars
H. Types of Stars

1. Main Sequence
2. Giants and Super Giants
3. Dwarfs
4. Pulsars and Neutron stars
5. Novae and Supernovae
6. Black Holes

J. Star Clusters
K. Nebula
L. Life cycle of stars

1. evolution
2. creation's answer

VI. Meteors and Meteor showers

A. Radiant
B. Fireballs and Bolides
C. Meteorites
D. Yearly meteor showers

VII. Galaxies

VIII. Solar System

A. Sun

1. Solar atmosphere
2. Spectrum and Fraunhofer Lines
3. Magnetic Field
4. Solar cycle
5. Solar Surface

a. Sun Spots
b. Flares
c. Granulation


6. Eclipses
7. Solar radiation

B. The Moon

1. The orbit of the moon

a. perigee
b. apogee
c. synodic period
d. conjunction

2. Nodes
3. Phases
4. Rising and setting times of the moon
5. Eclipses
6. The moon's effects on the tides

C. Planets

1. Planetary Phenomena

a. Inferior Planets

1. inferior conjunction
2. greatest western elongation
3. superior conjunction
4. greatest eastern elongation
5. synodic period

b. Superior Planets

1. Quadrature
2. Oppositions

2. Facts and characteristics of the planets and their satellites

a. Retrograde motion
b. Space probes that visited each planet

D. Other heavenly bodies

1. Asteroids
2. Comets

IX. (From Charity Lovelace's outline) Famous astronomers and their contributions

A. Claudius Ptolemy
B. Tycho Brahe
C. Nicolaus Copernicus
D. Johannes Kepler
E. Gaileo Galilei
F. William Herschel
G. Sir Issac Newton
H. Christian Huygens
I. Edwin Hubble

X. Telescopes and binoculars

A. Types
B. Selecting telescopes and binoculars

XI. Manned Space Missions

A. Formation of Nasa
B. Mercury missions
C. Gemini missions
D. Apollo mission
E. Sky Lab
F. Probes
G. Shuttle
H. Mir

Hints for teaching this outline.

The very first thing I taught the boys in my class was how to read a star map using the celestial coordinates. I gave them a couple of exercises using the star charts. This was a must.

The second thing we learned was how to find constellations in the sky. I would assign five or so constellations for them to find that week. In class we discussed all the important information about each of the constellations including important stars, important deep sky objects in the constellations, interesting stories and facts about each of the constellations. They knew that I would hold the accountable for not finding each constellation but recognizing all of the important starts in each constellation. Several times a year I would give them a blank star map on which they labeled all of the constellations and stars they knew as a test. If they did their weekly observing, they always did very well on these tests. Since we had learned about the movement of the stars across the sky, I would point what new constellations were rising in the east and what constellations had moved to the zenith and the west. I would have them draw their sky showing where certain constellations were.

When we discussed certain things like binary systems or variable stars or star clusters, I would assign certain examples for them to find that week.

We had a point system. The boys could collect points for finding things in the sky. This became a real contest. Each week the competed for the most points. They would also call one another and sometimes me to tell me what they have seen that night. They liked the observing assignments.

We would have star parties where we got together and helped each other learn constellations. This November and December we had meteor shower parties. The boys spent the night at my house and we sat outside watching the meteor showers. It was worth every cold minute. They were spectacular showers and the boys were very excited. These kind of observing parties are a must.

Th boys are giving reports over each of the famous astronomers. They will teach the others about the astronomer they are studying.

Every month I bought the Sky and Telescope magazine. Each monthly issue has an article called Guide to the Evening Sky. This article points out interesting things to be seen in the night sky that month. There is a calendar for the month, the locations of each of the planets, and a star chart. We always discussed these articles in class and I would give observing assignments.

A teacher friend of mine suggested using Oreo cookies to teach the phases of the moon. Open the cookie and you have a full moon. Bite it into the phases. Use a model of the earth, sun and moon to show how these phases happen. Jane teaches elementary students but the older ones will like too.


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button Astronomy and the Bible: Questions and Answers.
Donald B. DeYoung. 1988. Baker Book House, 146 pages. $8.00.
What is a black hole? Is there life in space? Which is the best telescope to buy? This book is a concise summary of creationist astronomy in a question/answer format. "How refreshing and rare to find an astronomy book where God's Word, not scientific theory, finds preeminence" (Christian Retailing). This book can be given to students without any fear of corrupting their faith in Scripture. It makes a welcome companion to more technical creationist presentations such as Design and Origins in Astronomy. Its six chapters provide an unusually large amount of information in a very readable style. The book contains a glossary in addition to Scripture and subject indices. I used this book in my astronomy class. I highly recommend it.

button Astronomy and Creation - An Introduction.
Donald B. DeYoung. 1995. Creation Research Society Books, 59 pages. $5.45.
This volume is the first in a series of concise studies giving an overview of a particular topic, in this case astronomy. The heavens (as well as the earth itself) declare the clear message of creation. The vast distances and numberless stars of deep space are simply beyond our comprehension. Among all the sciences, surely astronomy is the best teacher of humility. What then do the heavens teach us from a creation perspective? This book considers five particular areas: origins, order, structure, time scale, and change. The reader will find this treatment of "outer space" to be a refreshing alternative to much of today's scientific thinking. This book is the first in a series of short, introductory texts published by the Creation Research Society. The second, Physical Science and Creation; An Introduction, was also written by Dr. DeYoung. I want this book next.

button Design and Origins in Astronomy.
Edited by George Mulfinger, Jr. 1983. CRS Monograph Series No. 2. Creation Research Society Books, 151 pages. $9.00.
This book presents a teleological study of the universe - a creationist challenge to modern materialistic thought. Written in the 1970's, many of the arguments remain valid in the 1990's and are of historical as well as scientific interest. Authors include George Mulfinger, Donald DeYoung, John Whitcomb, Emmett Williams, Paul Steidl, and Paul Wilt. A wide range of topics is presented - initial state of the universe, a thermodynamics approach, the red shift controversy, nucleosynthesis, and creationist views concerning the origin of the solar system and the universe - as well as a Scriptural framework for astronomy.

button Starlight and Time: Solving the Puzzle of Distant Starlight in a Young Universe. D. Russell Humphreys. 1994. Master Books, 133 pages. $6.00. Using concepts from the general theory of relativity, Dr. Humphreys has derived a young earth cosmology which offers an explanation for the existence of "old" starlight in a young universe. The author compares his hypothesis to previous creationist explanations for the existence of starlight that should have required millions of years to reach the earth. Defects in the "big bang" theory are noted as well.



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