Useful Astronomy Information for Parents, Teachers & the Public

Below we list some items that members of the Astronomy Outreach Program have found to be very useful:

Tools for Observing the Night Sky:

Information About Careers in Astronomy & Other Sciences:

  • "A New Universe to Discover: A Guide to Careers in Astronomy" - a brochure from the American Astronomical Society suitable for students, parents and teachers
  • "Physics in Your Future" - a brochure from the American Physical Society that conveys the exciting possibilities of careers in physics to middle and high school girls by highlighting current female physicists. Very useful for boys, too. Available on-line and in print for free with an on-line request.
  • "Women's Adventures in Science Series" -  a set of 10 books that describe the lives of 10 women scientists, including an astronomer, geologist, biologist, anthropologist, etc., produced by the National Academy of Science 

Physical Scales

  • Physical Scales - images that illustrate of the physical sizes of planets in the solar system, the Sun and other stars.

Astronomy Educational Materials:

  • Astroshop from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) is an on-line shop here you can purchase excellent resources (books, videos, slide sets, kits for classroom activities, etc.) to aid you in incorporating astronomy & astrophysics into your curriculum. We highly recomment the following to get you started:
  • Universe in the Classroom - the ASP's newsletter for teachers of grades 3-12 features astrnoomy articles, classroom activities and resources
  • NOAO Image Gallery - contains many fabulous images of astronomical objects taken with telescopes of the National Optical Astronomy Observatories
  • Outreach Material from the Hubble Space Telescope - includes on-line images and explanations of the HST's discoveries, material for classroom presentations, and plenty of resources for teachers that can be obtained free of charge.
  • Resources for Educators - a comprehensive listing of material and websites from the American Astronomical Society

Here is some useful links with more advanced material for HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS:

  • Nine Planets has information and images about space, the solar system, planets, etc.
  • CLEA Exercises (Contermporary Laboratory Experiences in Astronomy) are download-able computer exercises that simulate real astronomical observations and data analysis on a wide variety of topics developed with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF)
  • Investigating Astronomy - activities for high school curricula highlighting real life, data-driven applications in astronomy and physical science developed by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) and National Optical Astronomy Observatories (NOAO)
  • NSSDC's Catalog of Spaceborn Images contains images of the Moon, Earth and other planets in the Solar System taken from Mercury and Apollo astronauts and from satellites such as the Vikings, Voyagers and Galileo. Hard copies of the images are available upon request.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day from NASA. This has cool astronomy pictures everyday with detailed explanations.
  • The Mars Exploration Rover Mission Home page gives you the latest images and information about the NASA's Mars missions.
  • Cool Cosmos! This site includes some wonderful activites and informative sites about light and how different types of light can tell us differnt things.  There is an infrared zoo, and infrared tour of Yellowstone and many other links.
  • An on-line Periodic Table
  • Sky and Telescope Magazine has the news on the latest astronomical events and advice on purchasing and operating telescopes.

Here are some VIDEOS/DVDs that we highly recommend:

  • "Powers of Ten" (1977, 17 minutes) is a short video in Volume 1 of the collected works of Charles and Ray Eames, a husband and wife team whose distinguished careers spanned art and architecture. "Powers of Ten" is a fantastic video that illustrates the structure in the Universe that you find looking on a scales from 10^{-20} meters to 10^{+20} meters in size - from things as small as cells, atoms and quarks to things as large as our solar system, Galaxy and the Universe. Its visually impressive and provides a great context in which to introduce students to the amazing variety in Nature on different physical scales. You can get a copy of it on the web at
  • "Cosmic Voyage" (1996, 35 minutes) is an IMAX film about the universe and its contents from its tinest particles to the greatest expanse of outer space.
  • "Blue Planet" (1993, 42 minutes) is an IMAX film about the Earth with plenty of amazing footage shot from the Space Shuttle. It discusses of how fources of nature, human changes and global warming can effect the evolution of our planet.

Related Science Education Material:

  • "An Ancient Universe: How Astronomers Know the Vast Scale of Cosmic Time" - This brochure published by the American Astronomical Society suscintly describes how scientists study cosmic age and the evolution of the Earth, solar system and the universe.
  • "Science, Evolution and Creationism" - This completely updated edition of the landmark booklet Science and Creationism from the National Academies of Science, Engineering & Medicine. It is written for anyone who wants to learn more about the science of evolution. It provides a succinct overview of the many recent advances from the fossil record, molecular biology, and a new field known as evolutionary-developmental biology that have yielded important, new, and overwhelming evidence for evolution.

Podcasts of Public Lectures in Astronomy:

Looking for something to do when the weather is cloudy? Why not try a podcast from one of these sites and listen to a public lecture about astronomy from a professional astronmer. These talks are aimed at the introductory level and geared for non-specialists, and they often contain question and answer sessions at the end.

Organizations that Teachers may be interested in:

  • The Orange County Astronomers have information for star gazers and offer many star-gzing nights for the public (including helping with our visitor nights)
  • Science Teacher Org (Associated with the National Teachers Enhancement Network) which contains information on teacher education and networking
  • Project Astro in San Diego is part of a national program from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific to improve science education in  grades 4 - 9
  • Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) is an international non-profit scientific and educational organization that works to increase the understanding and appreciation of astronomy

Ideas for Field Trips in Southern California:

  • The UC Irvine Observatory offers tours of the Observatory and educational programs that bring telescopes and lectures in astronomy to K-12 schools.
  • The Tessmann Planetarium at Santa Ana College offers tours to the public upon request.
  • Griffith Observatory in Griffith Park in Los Angeles has recently reopened after a three-year long major renovation that greatly expanded the number of exhibits and the planetarium.
  • Palomar Observatory in the mountains outside of San Diego has a small visitor center and allows the public to take daily, self-guided tours of the 200-inch telescope.
  • Smithsonian Videoconferencing - you can take your class on a field trip to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, without even leaving home using video-conferencing. The tours are led by docents, who interact with your students. Currently there are two types of tours offered: one on the Apollo space program and one on the history of flight.