Astronomy Education Resources

Click on the title of each resource to follow a link to the content. Note that some resources link to external websites.

These free printable worksheets were created by our astronomy educators here at the Reichert Planetarium. Covering a wide (and expanding) range of astronomy topics, our worksheets feature a short article on one side and related activities and resources on the other. Use them to supplement a lesson in your classroom, hand out for additional reading after discussing a topic, and more.

The Solar System: Our Closest Neighbors in Space printable worksheet

Apollo 11: The First Moonwalk printable worksheet

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The star projector that sits in the middle of our planetarium theater was manufactured by the Konica Minolta company and has been affectionately named “Konnie” by the astronomy educators. Konnie is the highlight of all of our live presentations and the true star of the show! These comics provide interesting facts about many astronomy topics.
Earth

A Perfect Home comic

birthofastar

The Birthplace of the Stars comic

Just_Konnie

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The AAS’s mission is to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe. They do this by working with professional astronomers to foster the next generation of science professionals, providing professional development opportunities, publishing a scientific journal, holding one of the largest astronomy conferences worldwide, and more. Their website is chock full of the latest in astronomical developments.
Use your browser or download the Windows application to use this advanced program to explore the Universe. View the night sky from Earth to check out constellations, planets, and Messier objects from our point of view, or blast off to examine anything from the Galilean moons to the edge of the known Universe. Download Guided Tours created by other users to sit back, relax, and enjoy a scripted tour.
The AMS is a global community dedicated to advancing climate science. They provide online learning, professional development resources, climate news, lesson plans, project ideas, education materials, and more together on their website. Everyone from weather enthusiasts to teachers to professionals will find what they need through the AMS.
ALPO is an international organization devoted to studying the Sun, Moon, planets, asteroids, meteors, and comets. Their website highlights several solar system objects by listing recent photos, observable features, and newsletters detailing interesting times to observe. ALPO’s publications are perfect for serious solar system observers and include astronomy-related news, reports, reviews, and more from fellow astronomers.
This group is composed of over 240 local amateur astronomical organizations. Collectively, their goal is to foster astronomical education. Their website includes information about special events, contests (often open to a wide range of ages), conventions, and more. For teachers, they feature many high-quality downloadable posters including how to use a telescope, our location in the Milky Way, and seasonal guides to the night sky.
ASLI is a group of night sky enthusiasts who meet every Wednesday night at 8 pm in the Reichert Planetarium here at the Vanderbilt Museum. They state their purpose best: “We are a group of dedicated amateur astronomers and telescope makers with a passion for our hobby. We welcome new visitors, you do not need to own a telescope, and there is no requirement to join the club in order to attend meetings or to come to our observing sessions. We only ask that you come with an excitement to explore the wonders of the night sky.”
Every day, this website is updated with a breathtaking image of our universe and a caption written by a professional astronomer. Check back often for your daily dose of space, or scroll through the archives and enjoy thousands of images from the past several decades.
Astrospheric provides advanced weather forecasting for astronomers in the continental US and Canada. It provides detailed information about cloud cover, precipitation, dewpoint, winds, the phase of the Moon, and provides an easy key to quickly interpret whether it’s worth getting your telescope out or not.
The Bad Astronomy web pages and blog are devoted to airing out myths and misconceptions in astronomy and related topics. Run by astronomer, teacher, and lecturer Phil Plait, Bad Astronomy corrects common misconceptions and introduces the latest astronomical discoveries with solid information and a fun tone.
Cloudy Nights is an online astronomy community. Their goal is to assist amateur astronomers in better understanding the equipment that goes with the hobby and to share astronomical knowledge with the public. Cloudy Nights members accomplish these goals by providing forums for reviews of telescopes and accessories and encouraging and sponsoring events and contests to get kids and beginners interested in the hobby.
Crash Course is an educational YouTube channel featuring short, information-packed videos created by author John Green and science communicator Hank Green. Their videos cover a huge range of topics — including more than 45 astronomy videos — and are designed for a wide age range.
This website provides maps detailing light pollution, weather, and great night sky observation spots all around the globe. Take a look at their interactive maps to find a location to stargaze near you.
Scroll around this gigantic composite image of real photographs of the nighttime sky. Scroll in to see beautiful images of stars, nebulae, and other galaxies, or leave the visual spectrum behind to see what infrared and microwave information we receive from space. Available in your web browser.
This website contains a scale model of our Solar System where each pixel is the size of the Moon. Students will begin to understand just how much space is in outer space with this online tool. View distances in different units, experience the speed of light, and enjoy the cheeky narrator’s comments during your trip.
The IDA works to reduce light pollution and distribute information about the destructive impact of over-lighting. Visit their website to learn about the environmental impacts of light pollution, options for responsible lighting, and step-by-step guides to help you reduce your impact on our night sky.
Choose from thousands of available quizzes or create your own. Students can join with their individual devices or team up to use shared devices to compete against each other in this fun trivia game. This game is played synchronously as students race to answer each question correctly — the faster they do so, the more points they earn. You can also download the leaderboard data for your class to see which questions each student answered correctly and where they struggled.
Kurzgesagt (translated from German: “in a nutshell”) is an animation studio explaining things with “optimistic nihilism.” Their short and informative videos blend humor, facts, and a unique style of animation to investigate scientific topics from bacteria to the Universe. Appropriate for middle school and older.
Did you know many libraries loan more than books? The libraries participating in the Library Telescope program have telescopes to check out! Their website includes how-to videos and helpful links guiding through transporting and using the telescope. For educators, this program is a great way to get a telescope into your classroom.
The LPI’s mission is to advance understanding of the solar system by providing exceptional science, service, and inspiration to the world. They regularly host family-friendly events focused on the latest astronomical developments, provide activity guides designed for out-of-school learning, and offer a wide range of resources for classroom education (including free posters, activity guides, spectrometer kits available for loan, and more).
Explore a universe full of black holes, dark matter, quasars, and more with the tools on this website. For teachers, find lesson plans for students 6th grade and up and printable posters, and hands-on activity guides. Students 14 and up will enjoy articles discussing NASA’s observatories, coloring pages, animated videos, and more. Play the Space Forensics game and guide detective Eagle Quark through the case of the exploding stars.
This amazing collection of resources for teachers was curated by NASA for students in grades K-12. Find detailed lesson plans, helpful visuals, fun games, creative craft ideas, informative videos, and more!
NASA’s Eyes is a visualization tool featuring 3D models using NASA data. Examine the planets and their moons, join the rovers on the surface of Mars, travel alongside the many probes in space, or take a closer look at major weather events here on Earth. Available to download on Windows and Mac.
From their website: “OpenSpace is open-source interactive data visualization software designed to visualize the entire known universe and portray our ongoing efforts to investigate the cosmos.” OpenSpace is a highly advanced program that supports the interactive presentation of dynamic data from observations, simulations, and space mission planning and operations. Available to download on Windows and Mac.
Videos from PBS Learning Media can be assigned for your students to watch on Google Classroom and often have support materials (such as useful vocabulary or handouts). The link will take you to a video that addresses why Earth has seasons, but there are many more topics to explore.
Quizziz is another online trivia game with many available quizzes and an easy quiz creator for custom questions. Unlike Kahoot, this can be played asynchronously, but students still compete to quickly answer the most correct questions. Quizizz is also compatible with Google Classroom.
SETI stands for “Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence.” This acronym represents an international effort not only to search the cosmos for other intelligent life (a.k.a. aliens), but also to research the evolution of the universe and the properties that make a planet capable of supporting life. Their website features educational resources for elementary through high school students, including standards-based lesson plans, activities, and more.
Sky & Telescope is a monthly magazine covering amateur astronomy, including current astronomical events, reviews of books and tools related to astronomy, astrophotography, and more. Their website features many free articles and great resources for any amateur astronomer. Their interactive star chart is a fantastic tool to orient yourself in the night sky and locate some easy-to-spot constellations and other celestial objects, whether you’re using a telescope or not.
The Sky LIVE provides accurate real-time data and finder charts for interesting Solar System objects. They currently track more than 400 objects, including comets, planets, asteroids and spacecrafts. You can easily search their website by object type or by viewing location.
Do you enjoy looking at the night sky? Sky Maps provides free, printable maps of the stars each month to guide you through the sky. Use their informative Evening Sky Maps to locate constellations, planets, star clusters, nebulae, and more! Their website also provides a huge list of books, star atlases, telescopes, software, and more for astronomy enthusiasts of all ages.
SkySafari is a telescope user's guide to the night sky, featuring tools to plan and record observation sessions, notify you about upcoming astronomical events, and guide you through the night sky. SkySafari 7 Plus shows you 2.5 million stars, and 32,000 deep sky objects, and 7,000 asteroids, comets, and satellites with updatable orbits. Plus, state of the art mobile telescope control. A "Pro" version with even more information is also available. Available for iOS, Android, and Mac.
SkyView is a free, easy-to-use app for locating stars, constellations, planets, and satellites. Simply point your phone or tablet to the sky to identify what you're looking at. It's well suited to beginning and amateur astronomers. SkyView has a free version with limited stars and constellations, and a paid version with a wider array of astronomical objects. Available on iOS and Android.
Fly through our Solar System to explore planets, orbits, comets, asteroids, dwarf planets, and more, or zoom out to the edge of the Milky Way to see the spiral arms of our galaxy, nebulae, star clusters, and other Messier objects. It has a simple UI and many settings so you can adjust what you see, making this program very easy to use. This solar system model is available in your browser, to download to your computer, or as an app for Apple and Android.
This website is all you need to locate the International Space Station (ISS) in the night sky. Learn how to differentiate the ISS from other objects visible at night, and even enter your location for detailed information on when, where, and how to view the ISS.
This resource is a favorite at the Reichert Planetarium. Stellarium has a user-friendly interface allowing anyone to explore the sky from here on Earth. During the day, watch how the Sun moves from east to west. At night, explore the constellations (including images from many different cultures), the planets, nebulas, star clusters, other galaxies, and more. Stellarium is available in your web browser, to download for Windows, Mac, and Linux, or as an app for Apple and Android.