Planets, Stars, Galaxies, and the Universe

Additional Resources


On these pages, I will try to include links to resources specific to the content in the current lesson. However, since this is the first lesson, I'm going to put some general resources here that will be useful throughout the course.

  1. Perhaps my favorite astronomy website is Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD). I recommend visiting this site daily (or at least weekly) to see what the new image is and to read the caption that explains the image. Almost every image you see featured at APOD will be relevant to material you will learn at some point this semester. Here are a few of the APOD images I already linked to or that are related to the Lesson 1 material:
    Note that APOD has been in existence since June of 1995, so there are more than 4,000 images in their archive. If you are ever looking for an astronomical image of a specific object (e.g., M13 star cluster) or phenomenon (e.g., Sundog), their search feature is an excellent place to start.
  2. For more imagery specifically from the Hubble Space Telescope, you can go to Hubblesite, which also has much more to explore beyond static images.
  3. My favorite group activity for teaching the 3D relationship between the Sun, Earth, and Moon is called "kinesthetic astronomy." Download the activity, with all of the necessary supporting materials, from its author.
  4. If you would like to print out and make a planisphere to teach yourself the constellations, the PDF file templates for "Uncle Al's Sky Wheels" are available and can be printed on cardstock with most printers.
  5. While not as fully featured as Starry Night, if you want free planetarium software for your classroom, you can also try out the open source alternative called Stellarium.
  6. For more on eclipses, visit Mr. Eclipse's Solar Eclipses for beginners or Mr. Eclipse's Lunar Eclipses for beginners.
  7. An excellent tool for visualizing celestial sphere concepts (e.g., the ecliptic path, the height of the Sun in different seasons, etc.) is a physical model of a celestial sphere. You can purchase one online; however, they are unfortunately quite expensive.
  8. Throughout this lesson, I have linked to an excellent, free, on-line textbook for astronomy at  There is another free on-line textbook resource that is found at  Although this last resource is not free and is not on-line, an excellent resource to engage your students directly in short, group activities related to the concepts in this lesson and in future lessons is the workbook "Lecture Tutorials for Introductory Astronomy". 

Tell us about it!

Have another website on this topic that you have found useful? Share it in the Comment area!