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Astronomy

A compilation of of astronomy and space science hands-on activities and resources. Also included are connections to celestial events (meteor showers, lunar eclipses, solar eclipses, full moons, and planetary events) and annual events such as Asteroid Day, Yuri's Night, Astronomy Week, and more.

Exploring the Universe Hands-on Activities

Photo of the materials used in the Exoplanet Transits activity

Exploring the Universe: Exoplanet Transits

In this activity, learners model one method to search for exoplanets by using a lightbox and mystery objects.
Learners pull on elastic bands to simulate the stretching of the universe

Exploring the Universe: Expanding Universe

In this activity, learners pull at the edges of a stretchy model universe and see that the space between objects in the universe is expanding.
A family looks at an image through a blue filter

Exploring the Universe: Filtered Light

In this activity, learners discover how colored filters can help reveal more about an image and we can use light and filters to learn more about an object.
two learners and a facilitator examine three ice orbs

Exploring the Universe: Ice Orbs

In this activity, learners investigate a sphere of ice and objects hidden inside as a model for icy worlds in our solar system.
a learner creates and draws an extremophile that could live on another planet

Exploring the Universe: Imagining Life

In this activity, learners imagine extreme environments that may exist beyond Earth and create living things that could thrive there.
Girl using paint in nebula spin art activity

Exploring the Universe: Nebula Spin Art

In this activity, learners create their own colorful model nebula using paint and a spinner.
Photo of the various materials used in Objects in Motion

Exploring the Universe: Objects in Motion

In this activity, learners use "orbiting" clay balls to make simple, functioning models of interacting objects in space.
Photo of the materials in Pack a Space Telescope

Exploring the Universe: Pack a Space Telescope

In this activity, learners design, build, pack, and deploy their own model space telescopes in this activity.
two educators playing space guess quest

Exploring the Universe: Space Guess Quest Game

In this activity, learners play a yes-or-no question guessing game that identifies the many types of objects in space, from human-made spacecraft to nebulas, galaxies, stars, and worlds.
Learners and a Facilitator look into the Star Formation basket

Exploring the Universe: Star Formation

In this activity, learners model a star-formation process by adding energy (via a hairdryer) to matter floating in space (ping pong balls) to see how much of it they can get to "clump" in an empty container.
Learner demonstrates how an electroscope interacts with static electricity

Exploring the Universe: Static Electricity

In this activity, learners will discover how static electricity works by building a simplified tool that detects invisible forces on Earth and in space.
A learner and facilitator place a heavy ball in the middle of a fabric stretched well

Exploring the Universe: Orbiting Objects

In this activity, learners experiment with different sized and weighted balls on a stretchy fabric gravity well.

Solar System Hands-on Activities

Facilitator and learner look at a meteorite sample

Exploring the Solar System: Asteroid Mining

In this activity, learners imagine the challenges and opportunities of asteroid mining by drawing their own asteroid mining machines.
Facilitator standing in the middle of a room while learners are spaced out at different lengths

Exploring the Solar System: Big Sun, Small Moon

In this activity, learners explore the concept of the apparent size by looking at models of celestial bodies at different distances.
Learner investigates the crater made in the sand after dropping a weight into the sand box

Exploring the Solar System: Craters

In this activity, learners drop objects of various sizes and shapes into a tub full of sand and other materials, to simulate the formation of a meteorite crater.
learners assemble their space craft models

Exploring the Solar System: Design, Build, Test activity

In this activity, learners will imagine, draw, and build their own simple model spacecraft. Then they will place the model through a series of tests.
Group of learners participating and enjoying the Hide and Seek Moon activity

Exploring the Solar System: Hide and Seek Moon

In this activity, learners use binoculars to find a hidden object on a Moon poster and learn how cultures around the world have viewed the Moon.
Facilitator demonstrates a magnetic field with a small model of Earth

Exploring the Solar System: Magnetic Fields

In this activity, learners use magnets and metal items to learn about magnetic fields of the Earth, the Sun, and other objects in the universe.
A learner gives commands to another learner who is blindfolded and is navigating a obstacle course.

Exploring the Solar System: Mars Rovers

In this activity, learners must work together to navigate a large obstacle course, similar to how scientists and engineers communicate with rovers to explore distant worlds.
Family of four reads a game card for the Mission to Space board game

Exploring the Solar System: Mission to Space board game

In this activity, learners play a board game in which they represent a team of scientists and engineers sending a spacecraft on a mission to space.
The near side of the Moon, as seen by the cameras aboard NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft (NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University, 2017)

Exploring the Solar System: Observe the Moon

In this activity, we can look up from Earth and see the Moon with our own eyes. We can observe the Moon in even greater detail by using tools, like binoculars, telescopes, and NASA spacecraft.
A young learner in a grassy field observes an image of the Sun being projected on her solarscope

Exploring the Solar System: Observe the Sun

In this activity, learners safely view the Sun and study features on its face, via a solarscope.
Group shot of learners creating their pocket solar systems

Exploring the Solar System: Pocket Solar System

In this activity, learners make a scale model of the distances between objects in our solar system.
Learners use a model Earth and Moon to mimic an eclipse in a grassy field

Exploring the Solar System: Solar Eclipse

In this activity, learners investigate the positions of the Sun, Earth, and Moon to create shadows and learn about solar eclipses.
A family of three crafts their rockets out of paper, stickers and tape

Exploring the Solar System: Stomp Rockets

In this activity, learners will build and launch their own air rockets to help imagine the challenges and triumphs of engineering spacecraft.
Facilitator and Learner use a block with a rover image to transport astronauts

Exploring the Solar System: Story Blocks

Every space mission has a story. In this activity, learners use blocks to tell a creative story about planning a space mission to explore the Moon together.
Home screen to the DIY Sun Science app

DIY Sun Science App

DIY Sun Science for iPhones/iPads is designed to make it easy for families and educators to learn about the Sun anywhere, anytime.

Collections of Solar System Resources

An image of a lunar eclipse

Lunar Eclipses

Check out the upcoming total and partial lunar eclipse events in the United States. During a lunar eclipse, Earth comes between the Sun and the Moon, blocking the sunlight falling on the Moon. Earth's shadow covers all or part of the lunar surface.
2017 solar eclipse square format

Solar Eclipses

A compilation of solar eclipse resources including resources for the October 14, 2023 annular solar eclipse and the total solar on April 8, 2024.
mars panorama photo from pathfinder

Mars

A compilation of resources for engaging the public in the Mars, Mars rovers, and the Mars Perseverance landing.
Asteroid Bennu mosaic image taken by OSIRIS-REx spacecraft in 2018 Image Credit to NASA, Goddard, and University of Arizona

Asteroids, Comets, Meteors, and Meteorites

A compilation of educational materials about asteroids, comets, meteors, and meteorites including resources for Asteroid Day, meteor showers, and links to NASA missions such as Lucy, OSIRIS-Rex, Psyche, Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), and Near-Earth Asteroid Scout (NEA Scout).
James Webb Telescope

James Webb Space Telescope

A compilation of resources for engaging the public in the James Webb Space Telescope. The James Webb Space Telescope will find the first galaxies that formed in the early universe and peer through dusty clouds to see stars forming planetary systems.
Apollo 11 lander

Moon

A compilation of resources for engaging the public in the Moon, the Moon Landing 50th Anniversary, the Apollo missions, and the Artemis missions.
A model of the intense magnetic fields around the Sun

Telescopes and the Electromagnetic Spectrum

We use special tools to detect things far away that we can't see with just our eyes. Many tools use different wavelengths on the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) including visible light, infrared light, ultraviolet light, and radio waves. Other tools may detect magnetism—such as the magnetic field lines around the surface of the Sun.
Children and adult investigating globes of ice in  Icy Orbs activity

Explore Science: Earth & Space Toolkits

Hands-on STEM public engagement activities and professional development resources about Earth and space science.

Night Sky Storytelling

Celestial Events

Meteor showers, lunar eclipses, full moons, planetary events, and more!

Calendars

What's up this month

Solar Eclipse

Lunar Eclipses 

 

Annual Events

Working with STEM Experts Guide cover including an image of expert  puring a liquid and using a strainer with a girl and her family at a museum public event

Finding STEM Experts

See the "Space and Earth Science" and section of Working with STEM Experts: A Guide for Educators in Museums and Other Informal Learning Settings

Newsletter

Learn about upcoming opportunities, events, ways to grow professionally, and inspiring stories from network partners.