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Good Astronomy Activities on the World Wide Web


Comets, Asteroids, Meteors, and Meteorites

Asteroid Angles:

This activity is mostly just calculations, but students will enjoy figuring out the angle by which an asteroid headed for Earth needs to be deflected to miss our planet.[h]

The Comet Dance:

Students are encouraged to play out the motion and positions of a comet and the Earth, relative to the Sun. Gives specific information for Comet Hale-Bopp, but can be applied to others. [e,m]

Edible Rocks:

Fun activity, part of the excellent Meteorite Mysteries package (see the last category in this listing), to show students how the internal structure of meteorites is analyzed. Students get or make a variety of dessert bars that have internal structure and make field notes about them using geologic vocabulary. Recipes are included. [e,m]

Making a Comet in the Classroom:

Using some dry ice and common materials to make a model comet that can be seen to sublime. A classic activity by Dennis Schatz. [a] (also available at:

Measuring the Motion of a Close-Approach Comet:

Students use downloadable photos of Comet Hyakutake and a downloadable image processing program to measure the comet's motion. Mainly involves following instructions, but teaches some useful techniques, and the NIH Image Software is very powerful. [h]

Scale Model Comet:

Students construct a model of an active comet out of everyday materials. [e,m] [An excellent teacher's guide with lesson plans and activities about comets, from the NASA Stardust Mission, can be downloaded and printed out in pdf format at:]

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The Sun

Are Sunspots Really on the Sun:

Encourages students to use solar images with sunspots to help decide whether sunspots are really on the Sun or the shadows of objects circling the Sun. Would be even better if it encouraged students to think the method through for themselves. [m,h]

Interview Mr. Sol:

Cute little activity in which younger students "interview" the Sun as a way of encouraging them to research various topics on the Stanford Solar Center web site. [e]

Magnetism and the Sun:

A guided tutorial, with activities, for high school students who are taking pre-calculus math, on basic aspects of magnetism (and the applications of those ideas for the Sun.) [h]

Motion of a Coronal Mass Ejection:

A quick calculation activity in which student measure SOHO images to obtain the size and speed of material ejected by the Sun. [m,h]

Observing the Sun Safely:

John Percy gives viewing instructions, techniques for projecting an image of the Sun, and some solar observing projects. You need to scroll down past the main article to get to the activity on this site. [m,h]

Reflections of a Star: How to Find the Angular Diameter of the Sun:

Use a mirror in a water bottle and a screen to see a safe image of the Sun, and then figure out the sun's angular diameter from the way the Earth's spin causes the image to move across the screen. [m,h]

Retrieving Solar Images:

Instructions on how to retrieve images of the Sun taken by spacecraft for plotting the numbers and motions of sunspots. This basic activity precedes many of the other activities found on the useful Stanford Solar Center site. [a]

Solar Brightness:

Use a grease spot photometer to compare the brightness of the Sun to that of a lamp and then estimate the power output of our Sun. [h]

Solar Music & Helioseismology:

Students discover how you can learn about an object by listening to its vibrations; in this case, by playing with musical triangles, bottle harmonicas, and slinky's. Interesting, even if you don't think elementary students need to know about helioseismology. [e]

Sun's Impact on Earth's Temperature:

Use data from the internet to examine planetary temperatures and weather patterns, and then to test hyptheses about the Sun's effects on planetary climate [m,h].

See also the Changing Faces activity under planets.

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