Astronomy is the oldest of all the sciences. Every human culture has observed and studied the night sky, from the earliest humans to modern man. Our fascination with the night sky has led to countless scientific discoveries and advancements in human understanding of the Universe. Only relatively recently, with the proliferation of electric lighting, sprawling mega-cities, and modern electronic entertainment, have most people stopped looking at the night sky regularly. It is my hope that this year you will gain a greater appreciation, greater enjoyment, and greater understanding of the night sky that you will carry with you for the rest of your life.

Useful Links

Stellarium Download– Stellarium is a free planetarium software for PC, Mac, and Linux operating systems. It’s great for helping you learn what is visible in the sky each night and is customizable to any location on Earth.

ClearDarkSky– This site is full of good information for observing the night sky. It predicts the cloudiness, clarity, and stability of our atmosphere. I have it set for Idyllwild, but you can change it for anywhere in the United States.

SkyMaps– This site provides “old school” printable maps of the night sky for each month.

Astrophoto of the Day (APOD)– NASA publishes a new astrophoto each day with an informative description.

Spaceweather– Did you know that space has weather? It’s mainly driven by the Sun’s activity. Here you’ll find interesting pictures and articles mostly related to the Sun.

Crash Course Astronomy– PBS produced 47 high quality instructional videos for students learning astronomy. We’ll watch some of these in class, but they’re all pretty good.

Bad Astronomy– Astronomer Phil Plait’s now well-known blog and informational site seeking to educate the world in astronomy. It’s humorous, explains common misconceptions, and addresses current events in astronomy. It’s been around since I was in high school! He now writes the blog for Slate Magazine.

Astronomy Syllabus

Astronomy Schedule and Blackbaud page

About Portfolio Grading

Portfolio Rubric

Grading Scale- How portfolio grades based on a 0-4.0 scale are translated into the online gradebook on a 0-100% scale.

Year Summary

We will study a wide variety of topics in this year’s Astronomy class. In general, we will be following the “Earth out” model for learning astronomy. This means we will begin studying things that are easily visible from Earth with the naked eye (motions of the Sun and Moon) and slowly expand our scope to include the planets, stars, nebulae, galaxies, and many other interesting objects. Each unit is listed and linked to on the right side of this page.