Archive for the astronomy eduction Category

Greater Houston Astronomy Coaltion

Posted in amateur astronomy, astronomical history, astronomy eduction, books, sidewalk astronomy, Student Astronomy, urban skies with tags , , on June 7, 2010 by bellaireastro

HPL Central Astro Display

The Houston Public Library was kind enough to let me put together a display for the 2nd floor.

Hopefully people will see the display and discover the Houston astronomy community. There are several area clubs each serving a different part of the metro area and we often collaborate on star parties and for the annual Astronomy Day event held at the George Observatory.

Astronomy Day 2009

The best way to learn about astronomy is to check out one of the area clubs. There are novice presentations and lots of chances to ask questions and meet the experts. You don’t have to join to come to a meeting so give us a try!

The Houston Astronomical Society meets monthly at the Science & Research Building 1 at University of Houston.

The North Houston Astronomy Club meets monthly at Lone Star College-Kingwood building CLA

The Ft Bend Astronomy Club meets monthly at the Houston Community College Stafford Campus.

The Johnson Space Center Astronomical Society meets at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Clear Lake.

If your school, scout troop, or other organization is interested in having a star party hosted for your group, contact us using the Night Sky Network. We can schedule events with a few or a lot of telescopes or lectures and demonstrations.

100 Hours of Astronomy

Sidewalk Astronomy @ HPL

Solar Dynamics Observatory Online!

Posted in astronomy eduction, NASA, observing, robotic astronomy, space, stellar astronomy, Student Astronomy, sun with tags , , , on April 22, 2010 by bellaireastro

The Solar Dynamics Observatory is open for business and man are the first light images amazing!!

Be sure to see the videos which are better-than-HD quality.

Solar Observing Online

Posted in amateur astronomy, astro blogs, astronomy eduction, observing, software, space, Student Astronomy, sun, urban skies with tags , , , on April 19, 2010 by bellaireastro

The sun will become more and more active as it the 11-year solar cycle swings from the slow and quiet to the loud and wild. You can follow along using some online solar observing tools. SOHO is still my favorite but Big Bear offers some excellent ground based views and the newer STEREO spacecraft has 3-D views and its own iPhone app!

Check em out…

Spring Break Star Party

Posted in amateur astronomy, astronomy eduction, observing, space, Student Astronomy, urban skies with tags on March 14, 2010 by bellaireastro

Come out to the Bellaire High School track this Wednesday from 7pm – 9pm for some solar observing and some star gazing! – News Blog – The Big Dipper Adds a Star

Posted in amateur astronomy, astro blogs, astronomical history, astronomy eduction, exoplanets, observing, sidewalk astronomy, Sky & Telescope, space, stellar astronomy, Student Astronomy, urban skies with tags , , , on December 13, 2009 by bellaireastro – News Blog – The Big Dipper Adds a Star.

One my favorite targets for me and for star parties is the optical pair Alcor & Mizar and Mizar is also a binary system itself which is apparent through pretty much any telescope.

Alcor and Mizar

Alcor and Mizar

In reality each of the stars in the Mizar pair is a binary making the whole telescopic view a total of 6 stars when you include the star that also shows up in the field-of-view.

Alcor's new companion

Alcor a & b

Recently astronomers at the Palomar observatory were looking for extra-solar planets using near-infrared techniques and discovered that Alcor also is a binary system! That makes a total of 7 stars when you look at that one spot in the Big Dipper. Read more over at

Awesome Mars Express view of Phobos and Deimos together – The Planetary Society Blog | The Planetary Society

Posted in astro blogs, astronomy eduction, IYA, Mars, NASA, observing, Planetary Society, robotic astronomy, space, Student Astronomy with tags , , , on December 13, 2009 by bellaireastro

Awesome Mars Express view of Phobos and Deimos together – The Planetary Society Blog | The Planetary Society.

Phobos and Deimos mutual event from Mars Express

Phobos & Deimos

Astronomy Education Gets It Right – Interactive is Better

Posted in astronomy eduction, books, Student Astronomy with tags , , , , , on October 7, 2009 by bellaireastro


I just finished reading an article published in the October 2009 issue of Physics Today by Prather, Rudolph, and Brissenden titled Teaching and
learning astronomy in the 21st century

As a high school astronomy teacher I have benefited from the techniques mentioned in the article over the past 2 years as I try to figure out how best to get students involved in their own learning.

Essentially what Prather, Rudolph, and Brissenden have been able to show is that when instructors use the right tools an astronomy course can cover difficult and meaningful material even with non-science majors and produce a measurable gain in student knowledge about the topics in question.


Look-Back Time Lecture-Tutorial Question

The lecture-tutorials, concept questions with peer-instruction, along with the general attitude that students should be engaged in the learning process has helped me to have some very fun and productive astronomy classes so far.

I have used the Astronomy Diagnostic Test in class with some success but I haven’t used the newer Light and Spectroscopy Concept Inventory although I will at the start of the Spring semester. Since I’ve never had any professional development or training with these materials I sometimes struggle to use them effectively, but a motivated instructor can go a long with with just what’s available out there and some willingness to work. Many of these concepts I myself had wrong in some way or another and that has helped me to look for the same sorts of mistakes from my students.


Moon Phases Ranking Tast


Radial Velocity Think-Pair-Share Question

Two great resources to get you started:

1) Astronomy 101 by the Center for Astronomy Education has ways to connect with others wanting to add to astronomy education research or to learn from those that have come before. Check out the teaching strategy section for some fantastic ideas.

2) Astronomy Education Review is an open journal of astronomy education that covers college as well as high school level issues.

I can attest to the fact that using these techniques and these tools really help to create an astronomy course that belongs to everyone and encourages active participation from everyone. It can be hard to let go of a full-class lecture but in the end everybody has a better experience if you just trust in the process.