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.”
This is Our Astronomy Spine Text
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
Stargazing Journal - Personal Journal for Your Stargazing
Using Binoculars for Astronomy
Field Guide We Chose
Additional Books We Found Interesting
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.
Helpful Links for Astronomy Study
- Google Sky Map
This is an app for your phone and it is wonderful! You hold your phone up to the night sky and it will tell you what stars, constellations, and planets you are looking at! Awesome!
- Watch "The Universe" on Netflix Instant View
My son is working his way through this series on Netflix. He watches the episodes, comes up with three questions, and then uses another day to research the answers. This is a great way to personalize your study.
- Astronomy Notebook Pages
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!
Mohan Babu from Chennai, India on October 16, 2013:
Pretty useful information for students desiring to learn about astronomy.
Please check mine when you get time
oooMARSooo LM on December 29, 2012:
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. :)
anonymous on July 12, 2012:
Thanks for this helpful lens, Barb. Will share it with my daughter.
Barb McCoy (author) on August 03, 2011:
@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.
anonymous on August 03, 2011:
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 (author) on July 13, 2011:
@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 on July 13, 2011:
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!