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Astronomy For High School

Updated on March 20, 2015

Astronomy, Space, Stars, and Stargazing!

We are a homeschooling family that combines the Classical and Charlotte Mason methods in our learning. We try to make learning relevant and interesting, hoping to stir an interest in our sons that will motivate them to learn more. We try to build on interests by noting their passions and then offering courses and projects to help them dig in deeper.

My youngest son, age 14, has wanted to do a formal study of astronomy for a very long time. He dreams of space and draws elaborate space vehicles. His favorite Lego sets are Star Wars and other space related models. He reads loads of science fiction: H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Ray Bradbury, Eleanor Cameron, and Isaac Asimov. We often are outside looking at stars and moon together late into the evenings. Last summer the two of us slept outside on our deck for a complete week so we could watch the Perseid meteor showers in the night.

I planned a study that would both be informative and interesting for my high school age son. He loves researching things so the basis of his astronomy course is really one that is student led. We have a spine text but then he pretty much follows his interests as they arise.

Nighttime stargazing is casual and includes our whole family at times.

I have listed below my specific plans for this year and as the term progresses I will add to the list showing what we were able to add in and accomplish.

We do not have a telescope but we do use our binoculars on a tripod to get a closer look at the night sky. My son keeps a journal of his discoveries as we go along.

We supplement with internet sources like the NASA Photo of the Day and current events.

Hopefully this lens will give you some ideas for your own study of astronomy.

Connection with Earth and Sky

“Geology, mineralogy, physical geography, botany, nature, biology, astronomy--the entire realm of science is like a beautiful fenced green field and we need to bring the child to the gate and leave it open for him. He doesn’t need a thorough collection of facts. He needs what Huxley calls ‘common information’ so that he’ll feel some connection with things on the earth and in the heavens.”

Charlotte Mason

This is Our Astronomy Spine Text

Astronomy: A Self-Teaching Guide, Seventh Edition (Wiley Self-Teaching Guides)
Astronomy: A Self-Teaching Guide, Seventh Edition (Wiley Self-Teaching Guides)

If you have a student that likes a more traditional format for learning, this is a great book to lay a foundation. My son reads the text and answers the questions at the end of each chapter as the basis of his book work for this course. There are multiple choice questions, fill in the blanks, and sketching assignments as part of the follow-up self tests.

This book can be the spine for further study. I have my son read and keep a list of questions that arise from the reading leading to further research done independently. He records his answers in note form in his notebook.

 

Our Basic Astronomy Plan

We have come up with a simple formula for my son's high school astronomy study.

1. Read the Astronomy Self-Teaching Guide. Answer the questions and take the chapter tests.

2. View the NASA Astronomy Photo of the Day. Research something that relates to the photo.

3. Weekly pick a current event related to astronomy and make a journal entry relating the event.

4. Complete at least one entry in the Stargazer's Journal each week. Use the Google Sky Map app.

5. Watch one episode from "The Universe" on Netflix Instant View each week. Write three questions related to the episode and then research the answers.

6. Supplement your time each week with Nightwatch. Complete notebook pages for each planet-continue adding information as you work through your other tasks.

6. Each term pick an astronomy related topic and complete a research report.

7. We also watched two courses from The Teaching Company/Great Courses- Our Night Sky and My Favorite Universe. (links below)

Great Visual Experience

NightWatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe
NightWatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe

We have used this as a wonderful illustrative companion to my son's astronomy study.

 

"When I say that life should be full of living, I mean that we should be in touch and able to relate with some genuine interest no matter where we are, what we hear, or what we see. This kind of interest isn't something we give to children.... The question isn't how much a student knows after he's completed his education, but how much he cares, and how many categories of things he cares about." Charlotte Mason

Stargazing Journal

Stargazing Journal
Stargazing Journal

Stargazing Journal - Personal Journal for Your Stargazing

Night Sky Tracker: Backyard Astronomer's Logbook
Night Sky Tracker: Backyard Astronomer's Logbook

If you are looking for a journal to use over long periods of time for star gazing (or moon gazing), we found a perfect one that my son has been using all year. It has pre-printed pages for you to record each night time session you have. There is even a place on the page for a sketch of your observations. I like that it is hardbound and has an elastic closure.

 

Field Guide We Chose

A Peterson Field Guide to Stars and Planets (Peterson Field Guides)
A Peterson Field Guide to Stars and Planets (Peterson Field Guides)

We have this one on our shelf as a resource. Reading through it gives lots of great information and helps us when we are outside.

 

DVD Courses From The Teaching Company

We supplemented our weekly studies with two courses from The Teaching Company (Great Courses). One I found on Amazon to link to and it is listed below.

The other course we watched was Our Night Sky.

Both of these were interesting and light as far as content. They were more to stir up interest than to be "meaty" in nature.

We viewed the lectures, kept notes, and then further researched things we found interesting.

We are always on the lookout for more great resources for our astronomy study. I would love to hear any ideas you have.

Leave any tips or ideas for further additions to our astronomy study!

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    • Babu Mohan profile image

      Mohan Babu 4 years ago from Chennai, India

      Pretty useful information for students desiring to learn about astronomy.

      Please check mine when you get time

      https://hubpages.com/education/my-fascination-for-

    • oooMARSooo LM profile image

      oooMARSooo LM 4 years ago

      I miss my Astronomy Club. Now I'm just staring in to the sky like everyone else, confused even.

      I have a blog on Astronomy on Blogger, but I hadn't considered how helpful the modules on Squidoo would be to help explain so much. This lens rocks. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thanks for this helpful lens, Barb. Will share it with my daughter.

    • Barb McCoy profile image
      Author

      Barb McCoy 6 years ago

      @anonymous: We had a hard time implementing Signs and Seasons, so much so that I finally gave up on it. I had a hard time with all the timing for observations and particular times of the month and year. My son read quite a bit of it but then we put it aside. He preferred Astronomy Self Teaching Guide much better. Hope you have a great year.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Great tips! We're doing Signs & Seasons from Classical Astronomy for my daughter's freshman year, and I will add some of these resources to our study.

    • Barb McCoy profile image
      Author

      Barb McCoy 6 years ago

      @JanieceTobey: I think this is the single most important way that homeschoolers can take advantage of their flexibility. We don't have to follow any preset course of study for science or math. We can adapt our study to our child's interest and build on their natural abilities. Thanks for always leaving such encouraging comments on my lenses.

    • JanieceTobey profile image

      JanieceTobey 6 years ago

      Having read a number of your lenses now, I've noticed that you'll take one or your son's interests, and turn it into a class! How wonderful!! Your boys are very lucky to have you as their mom and homeschooling teacher!