Genre Name: Astronomy

Genre Definition: Natural Science which deals with the study of celestial objects (stars, planets, comets, nebula, star clusters, & galaxies). It centers on phenomena which occurs outside Earth’s atmosphere. It’s concerned with the evolution, physics, chemistry, meteorology, and motion of celestial objects as well as the formation and development of the universe.

Genre purpose: Education, evolution, study, observation, exploration, discovery, theoretical approach

Genre audience: Students, philosophers, scholars, educators, critics,

Genre conventions: Focuses on locating and studying of galactic activity within & outside our solar system. The study of discovering the progressive nature of the universe.


Brogt,K. (2007) Astronomy Education: Becoming a Hybrid Researcher. Journal of Research Practice. Pg. 21
I found this article quite compelling for it centered on an individual who was a former astronomer who was trying to make a transition to astronomy education research. This was a graduate student who was immersed into the field. The article also describes, “the author’s encounters with education research, its methodologies, and his changing research interests as he progresses through the astronomy graduate program.” I found this to be highly insightful and would really help me to find a niche’ within the astronomy research field and a means of teaching within this respected arena.

Lelliot, Anthony & Rollnick, Marissa. (2010). Big Ideas: A review of astronomy education research 1974-2008. International Journal of Science Education.
This was a very insightful article for, “It centers and reviews astronomy education research carried out among school students, teachers, and museum visitors over a 35-year period from 1974 until 2008.” It also includes information from over 100 peer reviewed articled were explored in accumulating information for the study. “The findings in the review have implications for the future teaching of, and research in, the discipline.”

Stanger, Jeffrey J. (2009). School-based extracurricular Astronomy. Journal of Australian Science Teachers Association.
I decided to focus on this for it came up with various activities educators and students can use for astronomy courses and classes. The article states, “The most engaging practical astronomy activities are best delivered with sustained support from the astronomical community, and this community needs to know how to support them.” It also gives insight from professional astronomers, amateurs, astronauts, and educators. The activities presented in the article give detail of workshops, student presentations, and various hands-on activities. I thought this was a great article and could really help me out to discover new ideas.

Trumper, Ricardo. (2006). Teaching future teachers basic astronomy concepts- Sun-Earth-Moon relative movements- at a time of reform in science education. Research in Science & Technological Education.
This article discussed students alternative conceptions about basic concepts in astronomy. “We conducted a series of constructivist activities with future elementary and junior high school teachers aimed at changing their conceptions about the cause of seasonal changes and of several characteristics of the Sun-Earth-Moon relative movements such as moon phases, sun and moon eclipses.” It basically centers on basic astronomy concepts at a statistically significant level. This article is complete with pictures, moon and sun activity explanations. This was highly insightful and was really easy to comprehend.

Sample Astronomy Instructional Activities

Additional Resource - Writing in Astronomy - A How To Guide

Online Teaching Resources

State Curriculum Standards
SAST1. Students will explain the tools used by astronomers to study electromagnetic radiation to determine composition, motions, and other physical attributes of astronomical objects.
a. Explain the challenges faced by astronomers due to the properties of light and the vast distances in the cosmos.
b. Evaluate the types of telescopes used by astronomers for examining different frequencies of electromagnetic radiation and compare and contrast the uses and advantages of each (e.g. radio, visible, gamma ray, reflector, and refractor).
c. Mathematically apply Newtonian gravity to celestial bodies to determine their masses and explain their motion (e.g. Kepler’s Laws)
d. Discuss how spectroscopy provides information about the inherent properties and motions of objects.
e. Quantitatively analyze data from telescopes (e.g. spectra, multi-wavelength photometry, and images) and/or other astronomical sources (e.g. tide tables, sky charts).

SAST2. Students will describe the scientific view of the origin of the universe, the evolution of matter and the development of resulting celestial objects.
a. Outline the main arguments and evidence in support of the standard cosmological model. (e.g. elements, solar systems, and universe)
b. Describe the life cycle of a star and explain the role gravity and mass play in the brightness, life span, and end-stages of stars.
c. Compare and contrast the major properties of the components of our solar system.

SAST3. Students will describe and explain the celestial sphere and astronomical observations made from the point of reference of the Earth.
a. Evaluate the effects of the relative positions of the Earth, moon, and sun on observable phenomena, e.g. phases of the moon, eclipses, seasons, and diurnal cycles.
b. Describe how latitude and time of the year affect visibility of constellations.
c. Predict visibility of planets (major and minor) in the solar system based on relative orbital motion.

SAST4. Students analyze the dynamic nature of astronomy by comparing and contrasting evidence supporting current views of the universe with historical views.
a. Evaluate the impact that technological advances, as an agent of change, have had on our modern view of the solar system and universe.
b. Explain the relevance of experimental contributions of scientists to the advancement of the field of astronomy.

SAST5: Students will evaluate the significance of energy transfers and energy transformations in understanding the universe.
a. Relate nuclear fusion reactions and mass-energy equivalence to the life cycle of stars.
b. Explain the relationship between the energy produced by fusion in stars to the luminosity.
c. Analyze the energy relationships between the mass, power output, and life span of stars.
d. Describe energy transfers and transformations associated with the motion and interactions of celestial bodies (e.g. orbits, binary pulsars, meteors, black holes, and galaxy mergers).

SAST6: Students will explore connections between cosmic phenomena and conditions necessary for life.
a. Characterize the habitable zone in solar systems and habitable planetary bodies in our own and other solar systems.
b. Describe the tools and techniques used to identify extrasolar planets and explore extrasolar planetary atmospheres.
c. Describe signatures of life on other worlds and early Earth.
d. Explain how astronomical hazards and global atmospheric changes have impacted the evolution of life on Earth.

Assessment of Student Learning

Brief History of Astronomy

Astronomy is the oldest of the natural sciences with its origins in the mythical and religious practices of pre-history. Ancient astronomers were able to differentiate between stars and planets. Earlier civilization astronomy only compromised of observation and predictions of objects in motion throughout the heavens.

As earlier civilizations evolved in China, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, India, & Central America observations were only assembled through tall buildings and naked eye observations. It was believed in ancient times the sun was the center of the universe and all the planets and objects evolved around it. This was coined the Ptolemaic system named after the Greek philosopher Ptolemy.

The origins of western astronomy can be found in the Mesopotamia. They discovered lunar eclipse occurrences in repeated cycles known as saros. A saros is a period of 223 synodic days (18 years & 11 days) which could be used to predict eclipses of the sun and moon. The Persian astronomer Azophi discovered the Andromeda galaxy in the 9th century. He describes his discovery in his manifesto “Book of Fixed Stars”

Galileo was among the first to use a telescope and discovered the four moons around Jupiter in 1610. Motions of celestial bodies were explained in ancient times; however Johannes Kepler combined his physical insights with accurate naked eye observations and discovered the 3 laws of planetary motion.

Isaac Newton developed further ties between astronomy and physics with his law of universal gravitation. It was during the turn of the 20th century which women began to make discoveries of their own. Annie Jump Cannon, Maria Mitchell, Henrietta Swan, etc. were amongst women who contributed to the arena. According to Lewis D. Eigen Cannon alone has in 4 years discovered and catalogued more stars than all men in history combined.

Our current knowledge of astronomy was gained in the 20th century. With use of photography advancements in discovering our sun was found to be one of more than 10 billion stars. Physical cosmology made huge advances in the 20th century with the big bang model, Hubel’s model and cosmological abundance of elements.

The field of astronomy has continued to expand and grow in our modern day society. There are unsolved mysteries in the field which various observers and scholars are trying to answer through experiments and observations. One resolves around galaxy formation. Another revolves around what caused the universe to form. There are some theories which center on Einstein’s theory of relativity and his Big Bang Theory which is universally accepted by various scholars to be very credible. There is also the never ending search for extraterrestrials and if we are the only living species in the universe. There have been a number of discovers recently of planets which are possible to be inhabited by other living organism including humanoids.

There are also other fields within the discipline evolving in recent years such as astrochemistry, forensic astronomy, and archeaoastronomy. Each discipline is formed based on sub divisions of chemistry, archaeology, and forensics. However, as we move further in our future endeavors within the astronomy arena there will be other disciplines from various other fields which the disciplines of astronomy can coalescence from. Astronomy is an ever expanding field and should conjure more interest from the scholarly field in the future as more advancement is made.