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Learning objectives:


Students can qualitatively describe how mass and radius of the planet determine the gravitational pull of a planet on a person
Students can qualitatively describe Newton’s Laws of motion and identify how they apply to moving objects
Students will solve a gravity game by demonstrating their knowledge of how the force of gravity changes with mass of a planet
Students can quantitatively compare the gravitational pull on various planets given their mass and radius as compared to Earth

Students can describe how the Earth’s orbital tilt creates the seasons on Earth
Students can compare and contrast the Sun’s location on the sky during different times of year in the northern and Southern Hemispheres on Earth
Students can describe how the Sun’s position on the sky changes with the Earth’s position along its orbit
Students can identify the dates of the equinoxes and solstices and describe how many hours of daylight to expect on each date

Students can sketch the geometry of the Earth and Sun when an observer would experience local noon, local sunset, local midnight, and local sunrise (e.g., noon occurs when your location on Earth is facing the Sun)
Students can compare and contrast the speed of the Moon’s orbit around the Earth to the Earth’s rotational period and show that in one day the Moon moves 1/30th of the way around the Earth
Students can identify the appearance of the Moon given its location in its orbit around the Earth
Students can describe the reason for the Moon’s phases and the relationship to the Moon’s orbit around the Earth
Students can predict the rise, set, and transit time for any phase of the Moon
Students can sketch the geometry for a lunar eclipse and a solar eclipse and describe which phase the Moon must be in for each
Students can describe why the Moon’s orbital inclination makes solar eclipses on Earth rare

Students can contrast the night sky as seen from Earth to the night sky as seen from Mars, and in particular, learn that the “North Star” is different on Mars than it is on Earth
Students can describe the location of the North Celestial Pole on the sky
Students can describe how to use the stars of the Big Dipper to find North on Earth
Students can describe how the change of a planet’s location along its orbit determines what stars are visible at what time of year
Students can contrast the motion of the stars on the sky depending on the direction they are facing and explain this behavior based on the rotation of the planet
Students can describe the constellations as regions on the sky containing stars with an identified pattern that is cultural, and not physical, in significance
Students can visualize the Ecliptic as the plane of Earth’s orbit on the sky and can describe why the other planets in the Solar System all are found on or near the Ecliptic
Students can describe the 12 constellations of the Zodiac as the constellations that mark the Sun’s path, or Ecliptic on the sky given a date and which Zodiac constellation the Sun is in at noon, students can predict the date when that constellation will be visible at midnight
Students can describe how the positions of the Zodiac signs have changed over time, and how astronomers use this to challenge the claims of astrology
Students can describe how the 3D distribution of the stars in space means that the constellations will not appear the same as seen from the point of view of a distant star system as they do from Earth

Students can place the types of light in order in the electromagnetic spectrum — gamma-ray, x-ray, UV, visible, IR, microwave, radio
Students can identify the wavelength of a wave and quantitatively measure the distance between two peaks
Students can compare how much energy is required to generate waves with shorter wavelengths vs. those with longer wavelengths
Students can quantitatively describe how wavelength, frequency, and energy are related for a wave
Students can describe how the primary color of light emitted by an object can give an indication of the temperature of that object
Students can compare temperature measurements between the Fahrenheit, Celsius, and Kelvin scales
Students can describe the properties of a blackbody as a perfect absorber and emitter
Students can interpret the information in a plot of intensity of light vs. wavelength and sketch the shape of a “blackbody” curve on that diagram
Students can quantitatively compare the wavelength of the peak emission and the total amount of light emitted between two blackbodies of different temperature

Students can contrast a continuous spectrum to an absorption spectrum to an emission spectrum and can identify the physical conditions necessary to create each (Kirchoff’s Laws)
Students can sketch a Bohr model of the hydrogen atom and identify the electron and the electron energy levels
Students can identify that electrons jump to a higher energy level by absorbing a photon, and this gives rise to an absorption line in a spectrum
Students can identify that emission lines are generated when electrons fall to lower energy levels and emit photons
Students can quantitatively compare the energy required to create absorption or emission lines of different colors in a spectrum
Students can describe how a star, like the Sun, creates an absorption spectrum as its cooler atmosphere absorbs photons from its hotter inner layer

Students can describe that the primary purpose of a telescope is to gather more light than you can by eye
Students can describe how the magnification of a telescope is inversely related to the size of the field of view of the image
Students can quantitatively compare the light gathering power of a circular aperture telescope using the relationship that the LGP is proportional to the area of the primary mirror
Students can compare and contrast reflecting telescopes to refracting telescopes and describe the reasons why reflectors are used more extensively in research astronomy
Students can describe the advantages and disadvantages of putting telescopes in space compared to those on the ground
Students can describe which types of light penetrate Earth’s atmosphere and which are partially or nearly completely absorbed, requiring them to be studied using space-based instruments
Students can describe the angular resolution of a telescope and can contrast images from telescopes with better and worse angular resolution

Students can diagram an ellipse and describe how to sketch one using two pins as the two foci
Students can describe the shape of Earth’s orbit as being an ellipse that appears nearly circular
Students can calculate the period of a planet’s orbit given its semi-major axis or vice versa
Students can describe how the speed of a planet along its orbit changes throughout its elliptical orbit
Students can fit a sinusoidal curve to a plot of distance vs. time to determine the period and semi-major axis of an orbit
Students can calculate the mass of a planet using the Newtonian version of Kepler’s Third Law

Students can qualitatively describe the properties of each major planet, including the type of atmosphere, internal structure, rotation properties, orbital properties, and general description
Students can calculate the density of planet using density = mass / volume
Students can compare the density of a planet to common materials like water and dense metals
Students can qualitatively describe how plate tectonics relates to the formation of mountain ranges and fault lines on Earth
Students can qualitatively describe how the Greenhouse effect works to stabilize the temperature of the Earth
Students can qualitatively describe how the Ozone layer shields living things from UV light from the Sun
Students can describe the model for the formation of the Moon

Students can compare and contrast asteroids, meteors, meteorites, and comets
Students can describe how the after effects from an asteroid impact killed off the dinosaurs
Students can locate within the Solar System and describe the orbits of asteroids and comets
Students can explain how “shooting stars” are created by meteors and the origin of meteor showers
Students will experience the scale of the Solar System by flying from planet to planet, and can describe the difference in the Earth / Moon distance, distances between the planets, and the distance from the Sun to the stars
Students can compare and contrast the properties of the Galilean moons of Jupiter, the moons of Saturn, Miranda of Uranus, and Triton of Neptune
Students will investigate a plot of planet temperature vs. distance from the Sun and can explain the deviations from the expected trend
Students can explain why Earth is more hospitable to life than Venus and Mars and the properties of a world that allow it to retain a habitable atmosphere
Students can describe the model for formation of the Solar System through accretion in a protoplanetary disk, and describe the role of differentiation in the creation of the planets

Students can describe the physical appearance of the outer layers of the Sun, and can sketch the appearance of Sunspots & prominences
Students can detail the composition of the Sun and give details about the relative amount of hydrogen, helium, and heavier elements
Students can distinguish between the core, radiative zone, convection zone, photosphere, chromosphere, and corona of the Sun
Students can describe how mass is lost in the process of nuclear fusion and how that mass produces energy to fuel the Sun
Students can list the steps of the proton-proton chain in order and describe in which steps energy is being produced
Students can distinguish between the luminosity of a star compared to its apparent brightness measured at Earth
Students can evaluate the inverse square law for light and determine how much the flux from a star drops off with distance
Students can convert between the units of degrees, arcminutes, and arcseconds
Students can sketch the parallax triangle using the parallax formula
Students can compare the size of a parsec / distance to the nearest stars to an AU separation between the planets
Students can identify the spectral type (OBAFGKM) of a star by the appearance of its absorption spectrum
Students can approximate the physical properties (temperature, mass, radius) of a star given its spectral type
Students can graph the colors, temperatures, or spectral types of a star and their luminosities on a Hertzsprung-Russell (HR) diagram
Students can compare and contrast the nearby stars (mostly cool, red, faint stars) to the brightest stars (mostly luminous blue and red giant stars)
Students can predict the radius of a star given its temperature and luminosity and can explain why luminous, cool stars must be “red giants"
Students can explain how the mass of a star determines the rate at which fusion proceeds, and therefore the resulting temperature of the star
Students can explain the relationship between mass and luminosity for a star and predict the Main Sequence lifetime for a star with a given mass
Students can identify the Main Sequence, Red Giant branch, and White Dwarf region in an HR diagram and explain how a star’s location in the diagram changes as it evolves
Students can compare and contrast the lifetime and evolution of a low mass, intermediate mass, and high mass star
Students can identify the end states of a low mass, intermediate mass, and high mass star
Students can describe how elements heavier than iron are created in supernovae and distributed throughout the interstellar medium
Students can explain why complex life is expected to evolve only around lower mass stars
Students can sketch and describe the physical meaning of the singularity and event horizon of a black hole
Students can describe how the tidal force exerted on objects nearing a black hole causes “spaghettification” of that object
Students can provide examples of observable phenomena that can only happen near the event horizon of a black hole
Students can estimate the number of intelligent, communicating civilizations in the Milky Way using the Drake equation
Students can estimate the size of the habitable zone around stars of various spectral types
Students can describe the “transit method” for discovering exoplanets
Students can describe how the transit method allows us to estimate the star/planet separation, determination of presence in the habitable zone, and rough surface temperature for an exoplanet
Students can describe the variety of exoplanets found around various stars in the Milky Way

Students can compare and contrast the properties and nature of open star clusters and globular clusters
Students can sketch an HR diagram for an open cluster and a globular cluster and describe how those can be used to estimate the age of the cluster.
Students can describe the evolution in a binary system leading to a nova or Type Ia supernova explosion
Students can describe the appearance and properties of the remnant of a Type II supernova explosion
Students can describe the types of nebulae where stars form, sometimes called “stellar nurseries"
Students can match images of common open clusters, globular clusters, planetary nebulae, supernova remnants, and star forming regions to their names
Students can describe the measurements that have been made to infer that the center of the Milky Way Galaxy has a supermassive black hole with a mass of approximately 4 million solar masses and a size less than 100 AU
Students can qualitatively describe how black holes appear to a nearby observer and the physical phenomena that observer would experience when approaching a black hole
Students can describe the total number of stars in the Milky Way Galaxy and to an order of magnitude how many there are of each color
Students can explain why the spiral arms of the Milky Way are expected to appear blue even though blue stars are the rarest type of star
Students can describe the size, shape, and appearance of the Milky Way and the location of the Sun within it
Students can compare and contrast the populations of stars (Population I and Population II) located in the Milky Way’s disk, bulge, and halo
Students can explain the correlation between the age of a star and the amount of heavy elements in its atmosphere
Students can describe the concept of “lookback time” as how we see distant objects as they appeared in the past because of the finite speed of light
Students can sketch the Local Group and locate the Milky Way, Andromeda, and dwarf satellite galaxies of each
Students can compare and contrast the appearance of Sa, Sb, Sc, SBa, SBb, SBc, S0, Irregular, and E0, E3, E7 galaxies and can name examples of each
Students can properly place galaxies of each type on a “tuning fork” diagram
Students can estimate the size of the Solar System, Milky Way Galaxy, distance to other galaxies, large scale structure in the Universe using order of magnitude estimation
Students can use the units of parsecs, kiloparsecs, and megaparsecs to describe the distance between stars, the sizes of galaxies, and the separations between galaxies
Students can describe how the appearance of galaxies can change with time
Students can calculate the recession velocity of a galaxy from the wavelength of an absorption line in that galaxy’s spectrum
Students can explain Hubble’s Law as both a correlation between a galaxy’s recession velocity and its distance and the observation that the Universe must be expanding
Students can describe the types of measurements used to measure galaxy distances for calibrating Hubble’s Law
Students can describe the appearance of a plot of the distance from the center of a spiral galaxy and the velocity of stars orbiting the center at that distance (a “rotation curve”), and can explain why these provide evidence for a large amount of dark matter in galaxies
Students can explain how the presence of dark matter is detected in large clusters of galaxies, and why that dark matter keeps the cluster galaxies bound to the cluster
Students can provide evidence for the existence of “dark energy” and contrast dark energy to dark matter
Students can quantitatively compare the relative contribution to the makeup of the Universe from regular matter, dark matter, and dark energy
Students can compare and contrast the properties of quarks, anti-quarks, leptons, and anti-leptons
Students can describe the four forces of nature and what particles are associated with each
Students can describe the conditions in the Universe at the moment of the Big Bang and immediately after
Students can qualitatively describe how particle annihilation and production happens
Students can identify the particles that make up an atom and the quarks that make up a proton and neutron
Students can calculate the charge of any particle given the quarks it is made from
Students can contrast the particles in a hydrogen atom to those in a helium atom
Students can describe the process by which quarks, then protons and neutrons, then nuclei (nucleosynthesis), then atoms formed after the Big Bang
Students can describe how the cosmic microwave background formed
Students can describe how astronomers simulate the formation of structure in the Universe and match those simulations to the observed structure
Students can describe how the first stars, quasars, and galaxies formed