Astronomy Education Resources

Resources for high school and introductory college astronomy teachers

Please email me if you would like to add your resources to this list.  The list is in no particular order.


Conceptual Astronomy by Jeff Adkins

Containing activities from over 30 years of astronomy teaching, Conceptual Astronomy 1 and 2 are a complete curriculum for high school and introductory college classes.  Honestly there’s more stuff here than you have time to implement and includes adapted activities from a variety of sources including original material by the author. 

Globe at Night

Globe at Night is an international citizen-science campaign to raise public awareness of the impact of light pollution by inviting citizen-scientists to measure & submit their night sky brightness observations. It's easy to get involved - all you need is a computer or smart phone!

Lunar Sample Loan Program from NASA

Attend a workshop and get certified to borrow moon rocks from NASA!


The purpose of this program is to provide educators with an authentic research experience in astronomy using data housed at NASA’s Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC) at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California.

"The NASA/IPAC Teacher Archive Research Program (NITARP) gets educators involved in authentic astronomical research. We partner small groups of educators with a mentor professional astronomer for a year-long original research project using NASA’s vast archives of astronomical data from space- and ground-based telescopes.  In exchange, we ask educators to leverage this experience by providing professional development for their colleagues in their local school districts. It involves several trips for educator participants and their students to collaborate with scientists and present the research results, all of which are paid for by the program.” - from their web site

I (Jeff Adkins) attended this program when it first started and it is a game-changer in terms of having an authentic research-based experience for classroom teachers.

Specifically look at this page recommended by Luisa Rebull: “...which is a collection of all the programs I know of, world wide, that get real astronomy data into the hands of K-12 teachers and students.” -Luisa Rebull

OpenStax Astronomy book by Fraknoi, 

Astronomy is designed to meet the scope and sequence requirements of one- or two-semester introductory astronomy courses. The book begins with relevant scientific fundamentals and progresses through an exploration of the solar system, stars, galaxies, and cosmology. The Astronomy textbook builds student understanding through the use of relevant analogies, clear and non-technical explanations, and rich illustrations. Mathematics is included in a flexible manner to meet the needs of individual instructors.

JPL’s Hands On Astronomy Project page

This page has many hands-on science projects related to astronomy and space science including building a relay for telemetry data. 

Loch Ness Productions

Planetarium shows for your small planetarium. Check out the $30/3 day rental deal— for a small  school planetarium it is perfect.  

NOIRlab Education page

As of 1 October 2019, all National Science Foundation-funded ground-based nighttime optical and infrared astronomical research facilities operate together in one organization called NSF’s NOIRLab (National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory).   The link leads to their extensive education resource page. 

The Astronomy Education Newsletter from The Classroom Astronomer site

"The Newsletter on Astronomy Education for K-12, College, and even Home Schooling science teachers.”

The Universe in the Classroom DVD-ROM archive

It’s not free, but it’s worth it.  This DVD-ROM is the most comprehensive resource and activity guide for teaching basic concepts and activities in space science ever published. It includes:

  • 133 field-tested hands-on activities, from programs and projects around the US,
  • 17 topical guides to to the best sources of information in print and on the web,
  • 52 background articles on astronomy and education,
  • 12 short videos with instructions for doing some of the most often-used activities, and
  • 10 recommended sequences of activities to help students learn some of the topics most often found in the K-12 curriculum.

Vera C. Rubin Educator site

Several interactive investigations produced by the Vera C. Rubin observatory.  There are some excellent resources and animations here.  This can be used in the classroom in groups or in distance learning.

A guide to astronomy resources by Lisa Manners.  There’s a lot of stuff here worth a look.

CAPER - Center for Astronomy and Physics Education Research

“Improving teaching and learning in Astronomy and the Earth Sciences, through research, curriculum resources and professional development.”

Night Sky Network

“Astronomy Clubs Bringing the Wonders of the Universe to the Public”

Find the closest astronomy club to your school and invite them to put on an astronomy night!

Astronomical Society of the Pacific

The Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) was founded in 1889 by a group of Northern California professional and amateur astronomers after joining together to view a rare total solar eclipse. The ASP's earliest purpose was to disseminate astronomical information -- a mission which has flourished with astronomers' inexhaustible exploration of the universe. The ASP has become the largest general astronomy society in the world, with members from over 70 nations.

An excellent summary page for national astrononomy education programs is listed at the American Astronomical Society at this address:

American Astronomical Society

The American Astronomical Society (AAS), established 1899, is the major organization of professional astronomers in North America. The membership (~7,000) also includes physicists, mathematicians, geologists, engineers and others whose research interests lie within the broad spectrum of subjects now comprising contemporary astronomy. The mission of the American Astronomical Society is to enhance and share humanity's scientific understanding of the Universe. Read the full mission statement.

Astronomy Education Review

Astronomy Education Review (AER) was a web-based journal for everyone who works in astronomy and space science education. Published by the American Astronomical Society, the journal welcomed research papers, short articles on innovative work, and comparative reviews of resources related to education and outreach. All papers and articles are refereed.  Has not published since 2013.

Association for Astronomy Education

The Association for Astronomy Education (AAE) in an organization committed to excellence in Astronomy Education at all levels, in particular with a focus on K-12 students. Our membership consists mainly of educators with strong interests in using astronomy to enrich learning in their classrooms or other settings. We are committed to excellence in professional development of teachers and informal educators, as well as to sharing astronomy directly with K-12 students and the general public. The scope of our work extends beyond just astronomy, as we seek to encourage the use of connections between the excitement and engagement that astronomy can offer as a hook to learning in other Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics disciplines, and in fields outside of STEM education. In alignment with the National Science Education Standards we strive to encourage a shift in emphasis in astronomy and science education, away from content driven fact based knowledge towards content rich inquiry driven learning and understanding.

SETI Institute

"Our mission is to explore, understand, and explain the origin and nature of life in the universe, and to apply the knowledge gained to inspire and guide present and future generations. We have a passion for discovery, and for sharing knowledge as scientific ambassadors to the public, the press, and the government. 

The SETI Institute is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to scientific research, education and public outreach.

The Institute comprises three centers, the Center for Education, the Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe and the Center for Public Outreach.

Founded in November 1984, the SETI Institute began operations on February 1, 1985. Today it employs over 130 scientists, educators and support staff. Research at the Institute is anchored by three centers, the Center for Education, the Carl Sagan Center for the study of life in the universe, and the Center for Public Outreach.  Edna DeVore leads our Center for Education, Nathalie Cabrol is the Director of the Carl Sagan Center, Seth Shostak is Senior Astronomer. "

McDonald Observatory Teacher Workshops

 McDonald Observatory offers a unique setting for teacher workshops: the Observatory and Visitors Center in the Davis Mountains of West Texas.

Not only will you do inquiry-based activities aligned with science and mathematics TEKS and TAKS, you will practice your new astronomy skills under the Observatory's dark skies, weather permitting, and partner with trained and nationally recognized astronomy educators. NOTE: the deadline for applications for federally funded programs and scholarships is February 1, 2006. For more details visit:

The Planetary Society

We are dads, moms, grandparents, teachers, kids, scientists, engineers, and space geeks. We are those who reach out into the Universe to seek answers to those deep questions: Where did we come from?, and Are we alone?

We are wowed and awed by the discovery of new things, the mysteries of science, the innovations of technology, the bravery of astronauts, and by the stunning images sent back to us from other worlds.

We know that space exploration is vital to humankind...and it is just plain fun!

-Bill Nye, CEO

Research Experience for Teachers (RET)

National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) Summer workshop training program for teachers has teachers working at the observatory in West Virginia or in Sorocco, New Mexico for eight weeks. A stipend is provided.

Hands On Universe (HOU)

This Lawrence Hall of Science and NSF sponsored program connects high school astronomy classes together from across the country. Through this program, students get access to image processing software and to a remotely controlled telescope that fufills requests based on a web form. If you can become involved in this program, you should. The current cohort of participants is investigating whether the style of workshop presentation has an effect on student learning.

Teacher Leaders in Research Based Science Education ARBSE

The Teacher Leaders in Research Based Science Education program was conducted by the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) based in Tucson, Arizona. The program included a two-week stay at Kitt Peak, home of several major observatories, and training, funding, and an online course through the University of Arizona.  The purpose of the program was to incorporate current scientific research in the classrooms.   Now known as ARBSE the program has archived some of the past activities. The bulk of the activities are now hosted at the University of Alaska.

Science Buddies

Hands-on scientific investigations are acknowledged to be the best way to teach science literacy. Science Buddies supports these activities by providing free science fair project ideas, answers, and tools to teachers, parents, and students from all walks of life. Our objective is to save our users' time while guiding them to a successful outcome.
By reducing the hassles of doing a science fair project, Science Buddies aspires to improve project quality and increase science fair participation, turning a good learning experience into a great one.


© Jeff Adkins 2014