that I got it, what do I do with it?
Once assembled and ready for use, the
projector and dome can be used to teach several important mathematics,
earth science, and astronomy concepts.
Here is a list of lesson planning ideas
you can use in your classroom:
Scale comparisons, for example:
If the dome were the size of the earth...how big would the moon be?
If the dome were the size of the sun....how big would the earth be?
If the dome were the size of the Milky Way Galaxy...where would the earth
be within it?
Surface Area and Volume of a sphere--ask students to determine the number
of ping pong balls that fit inside.
Inverse square law: a source of light shining in all directions has its
intensity spread over the surface of the sphere. As the sphere gets larger,
the light gets less intense in inverse proportion to the area...which is
proportional to the square of the radius of the sphere.
Earth Science Lessons
Longitude and latitude - how do they relate to the structure of
the sphere as seen from the inside? The vertex is the projector.
Interior Structure of the Earth - How thick is the crust of the
Earth compared to its overall volume?
Learning to recognize constellations in the real sky is difficult
to learn through reading text documents or even with computers.
Some people have difficulty making the transition from planetaria to
the real sky. Some resources you can use include local astronomy
such as those registered with Sky and Telescope magazine
at www.skypub.com. Universities may have instructors familiar
with the night sky.
One important tool you can use with your students is a planisphere.
The planisphere is an adjustable map which can show the
approximate night sky from any longitude on earth, on any date,
time of day throughout the year. Generally, they are designed
latitude and most of the ones you will find are geared
toward mid-northern latitudes. Most locations in the continental
United States should
be able to use a standard planisphere without difficulty.
Here is a list of constellations and stars
every planetarium operator should know by heart.
Stars (eyes only)
How to use a planisphere
Cut and paste together planispheres can
be downloaded from: http://www.lhs.berkeley.edu/starclock/skywheel.html
The planisphere consists of a circular star map, a top
cover with a hole in it, and something to hold
it all together such as a metal
brad in the center of the wheel. If you don’t
have access to a planisphere, you can download
and make your own using the Lawrence
Hall of Science’s “Uncle Al’s
Star Wheel” pattern
which can be downloaded at the address above.
If possible, you should purchase the larger version
of the planisphere available
many bookstores and science stores.
To use the planisphere, rotate the wheel until the
time you plan to observe lines up with the current
were in Missouri on August 20, you might plan to go
out observing at 10
PM Central Time. Then you would rotate the wheel so
that 10 PM lined up with August 20. (Since daylight
time is in effect
date, you could get slightly more accurate results
by setting the wheel for 9 PM. In practice the wheel
about the same
Once the planisphere is set, the stars that appear
in the hole represent the stars visible from your location
the time and
date you have
To interpret the picture, imagine that you take a large
wad of Silly Putty and stick it on the planisphere
the planisphere over your head and stretch the Silly
Putty until you have created a spherical dome over
the size of an
umbrella. The star positions in this Silly Putty umbrella
will then represent
the locations of the stars in the sky.
Therefore, objects located in the center of the hole
will be straight up in the sky.
The edges of the hole should be labeled with
North, South, East, and West directions. When
the real (non-Silly
in your hands, hold the wheel so that the edge
labeled “North” is
on the bottom. Then face north. Things near the bottom of the opening
will be straight in front of you on the horizon. Things on the south
edge therefore appear to be upside down; when the map is stretched
over your head and behind you, they’ll
appear to be normal.
Simply put, you should hold the edge of the planisphere
which corrresponds to the direction you are facing
on the bottom.
The next task is to find something in the real sky,
or the planetarium, which you can recognize. Most people
the Big Dipper, or,
if that is not visible, the constellation Orion (in
winter) or the Summer Triangle (in late summer or fall).
Let’s do a practice problem. Rotate the
planisphere until is is set for 9 PM on August
20. You should
see the star Vega
center of the opening.
Vega is one corner of the so-called Summer Triangle,
a bright, easily seen feature even from the most light-polluted
According to your planisphere, the constellation Aquila
is located towards the south from Vega. If you trace
from Vega to Aquila,
your finger will be moving toward the southern edge
of the planisphere opening. Similarly, if you go out
the real sky and
point at Vega, sweeping your arm towards the south
should therefore help
you encounter Aquila and Altair, the bright star marking
one of the other corners of the Summer Triangle.
Use the Big Dipper to find other objects in the sky.
The two stars at the end of the bowl away from the
called the pointer
stars. If you start from these two stars and use them
to establish a line in the sky, the line points to
Polaris, the north star (which
is usually located at the axis of rotation in a planisphere
There are many introductory guides to learning
constellations available in any bookstore. However,
the main thing
to remember is this:
Learn a few constellations really well, then
use a planisphere to learn
the rest. If a constellation appears to be beside
the Big Dipper in the planisphere, then it will
the real sky. This technique of learning constellations
is called “star
hopping.” For the purposes of public education,
if you can learn to recognize the Summer Triangle,
the Big Dipper,
and the constellation
Orion, you can find practically everything else
in the sky with little effort--providing you
to a planisphere.
The same techniques work inside a planetarium, such
as the one you may be building since you are visiting
Thus, without further introduction, we present here
a list of constellations and stars you might consider
your students or for yourself.
Other astronomy topics under development
for this web site:
Sunrise and sunset changes with the seasons
Effect of latitude on the motion of the stars
Activities for Student Success (PASS) is a program developed
at the Lawrence Hall of Science for astronomy educators. The materials
are adaptable to many different grade levels.
Planetarium Production Course Outline
Course Goals and/or Major Student
Students will be able to:
1. Evaluate the content and presentation style of planetarium shows
and educational materials in the field of astronomy education.
2. Classify the appropriate grade levels for content in astronomy.
3. Create multimedia presentations for use in planetarium shows.
4. Present material in a planetarium for student and public shows.
5. Operate a planetarium correctly.
6. Manage the flow of people into the planetarium, manage the ticket
money collected, count the number of attendees, keep books on the
funds collected and disbursed, write and maintain a budget.
7. Do research and interviews on up to date astronomy concepts.
8. Be able to explain the major concepts of astronomy and basic physics
and chemistry to a lay audience.
9. Create web based, powerpoint, print and other educational resources
for use in the classroom.
20. Course Objectives
Planetarium Workshop is course which prepares students to work in
a planetarium by giving them opportunities to operate a small planetarium,
develop multimedia materials, attend planetarium shows in a variety
of venues, and analyze the California science standards for astronomy
for all grade levels.
This course will provide students with an opportunity to construct
multimedia presentations for use in small planetarium settings. The
students will prepare a multimedia program on an astronomy related
topic or topic suitable for presentation in a planetarium or science
center. Students will develop and extend their knowledge of physics,
chemistry, astronomy, and mathematics as they prepare, conduct and
evaluate planetarium programs.
1) Review of Basic Astronomy
2) Analysis of Professional Planetarium Shows
a) Field Trips to Bay Area planetaria
b) Content analysis
i) Errors and compromises
ii) Audience impact
c) Seating and acoustics
d) After show “night sky” tradition
3) Background Research
a) Selecting a topic
b) Targeting a specific audience
c) Seeking current research in astronomy
d) Interviewing professional astronomers
a) Learn all 88 constellations
b) Constellation lore from several cultures
d) Seasonal changes
5) Star Coordinates
i) The Zodiac and Astrology
6) Planets and Moons of the Solar System
a) General characteristics
i) Bode’s Law
ii) Kepler’s Laws
iii) Inferior and Superior Planets
iv) Planets of other solar systems
ii) Rotational synchronization
i) Greenhouse effect
ii) Surface characteristics
i) Triple point of water
iii) Geological activity
i) Names of surface features
ii) History of exploration
i) Cultural significance
ii) Potential for Exploration
i) Many moons
ii) Great Red Spot
iv) Space probes
i) Great Dark Spot
ii) Kuiper Belt objects
iii) Is Pluto a planet?
7) Transient Events
8) Atmospheric Effects
b) Rainbows and Sun Dogs
9) Seasonal Events
a) Stonehenge (advanced)
a) Emission Nebulae
b) Dark Nebulae
c) Reflection Nebulae
11) Star Clusters
a) Open clusters
b) Galactic clusters
c) Globular clusters
d) Messier objects
a) The Hubble classification scheme
b) Nearby bright galaxies
c) Expansion of the universe
d) The Big Bang theory
13) Developing a Planetarium Program
c) Public Speaking skills
d) References and Citations
f) Special effects
ii) Diurnal motion
iii) Retrograde motion
g) Advanced Powerpoint skills
14) Developmental Appropriateness
a) Analysis of California science standards across grade levels
Developmental stages from Educational pyschology
15) Planetarium Management
a) Maintaining a planetarium budget
b) Charging and tracking admission fees
c) Seeking external funding- grant applications
16) Culminating Project
Develop and Present a planetarium show to the public or a school
22. Texts & Supplemental Instructional Materials
Resource Material: PASS Chapter outline
1. Planetarium Educator's Workshop Guide
2. Planetarium Activities for Schools
3. Resources for Teaching Astronomy & Space Science
4. A Manual for Using Portable Planetariums
5. Constellations Tonight
6. Red Planet Mars
7. Moons of the Solar System
8. Colors From Space
9. How Big Is the Universe?
10. Who "Discovered" America?
11. Astronomy of the Americas
13. Northern Lights
Audience: Teachers and Planetarium Instructors
Age/Grade Level: Grades K-12
Subject Area: Astronomy and Space Science
Format: Books, 30-70 pages each, b&w photos, illustrations
Price: $11.95 per book; $132.00 per set of twelve
Item Number for Set of Twelve: AST300
23. Key Assignments
1. Students will be asked to create a videotaped concept development
movie on a specific topic.
2. Students will be asked to write and produce a planetarium script, related
to content standards, on a specific topic. This is a long-term, culminating
3. Students will write reviews of public planetarium shows of peers and
4. Students will be asked to demonstrate particular concepts in the classroom
for their peers.
24. Instructional Methods and/or Strategies
1. Team projects.
2. Internet and library and primary source research.
3. Analysis of standards in comparison to content for shows.
4. Public speaking opportunities; videotape and playback for personal critiques.
5. Creation of digital media in presentation and movie software.
6. Demonstrations of key concepts.
7. Lab activities to reinforce understanding of key concepts.
25. Assessment Methods and/or Tools
1. Written Analysis of planetarium shows (both peer and professional).
2. Peer evaluation and teacher critiques of presentations.
3. Student written assessments used for self-evaluation.
4. The primary method of evaluation will be rubric-based performance assessment.
5. Traditional tests and quizzes over specific content.
D. OPTIONAL BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Please refer to instructions
27. Context for Course (optional)
This course was developed as a part of Deer Valley High Schools
Specialized Secondary Program (SSP) grant awarded by the California
Department of Education.
provides for the establishment of a Space Academy called the Antioch
Space and Astronomy Center for Education, focusing on Earth and
is to provide additional electives to encourage students to take additional
science elective courses beyond (not necessarily to replace) the traditional
electives students take in high school. The course prerequisite, Astronomy
and Space Science, has been taught for several years at DVHS and has
growth over several years. Two other courses were proposed and approved
by the Antioch Unified School District as a part of this grant. They
are a Astronomy
and Physics Research course and a Marine Science course, which will be
submitted to UC for evaluation separately.
28. History of Course Development (optional)
In the late 1980’s, the course author (Jeff Adkins) had arranged for
a field trip for students to go to a planetarium. This was at a high school
another state. The trip was cancelled for administrative reasons. Since the
students could not go to the planetarium, the teacher decided to bring the
to the students. A homemade planetarium was constructed, and students learned
the constellations with it. Later on, the students took the planetarium to
local schools to show them the stars as well.
Years later, while working at Deer Valley High School, the course author
(Jeff Adkins) and another teacher (Cheryl Domenichelli) wrote and received
to develop a web site for constructing homemade planetaria. In the meantime
the Antioch Unified School District loaned its Starlab planetarium to
DVHS for use
in its astronomy course. Students in the astronomy course began piloting
the use of student presenters for astronomy content last year and this
this year. We have already presented shows to hundreds of elementary
and middle school students and have been evaluating the effectiveness
training. Our conclusion was that we could not do as good a job as needed
to meet the demand through the part-time efforts as a side project of
astronomy course. The students currently working on the project get trained
after school on the specific topics being presented because there is
not time in the
regular astronomy course to go into the level of detail necessary to
present stories about every constellation, for example.
Therefore we decided to design a course for the purpose of integrating
public speaking, astronomy, research, and analysis of standards to provide
enough time to learn the background necessary to be a good planetarium
presenter. Not only are important academic skills needed for research,
sources, and interpretation, but good organizational and business skills
are required to keep the requests for planetarium shows fulfilled.
When the State of California awarded DVHS a SSP planning grant in the
late spring of 2002, part of the funds were designated for writing course
courses. In collaboration with other teachers in the Space Academy program,
this course was developed to meet a particular need for advanced students
and to encourage
other teachers to pursue research-based science education. A survey conducted
at the time the grant was written indicated at least one section of the
course would be needed to meet demand.