Astronomy Labs: A Concept Oriented Approach, 1st edition

  • Nate McCrady
  • Emily Rice


Astronomy Labs: A Concept Oriented Approach is collection of 40 conceptually oriented introductory astronomy labs housed in Pearson’s custom library and designed for custom assembly. All of the labs are written to minimize equipment requirements, and are largely created to maximize the use of inexpensive everyday objects, such as flashlights, construction paper, theatre gels, etc.


Table of contents

Quantitative Reasoning

Students review the relevant mathematics used in the labs and have the opportunity to practice and apply their quantitative reasoning skills.


Quantitative Reasoning: A Trip to Mars

Students apply quantitative reasoning skills by considering a human spaceflight mission to Mars.


Quantitative Reasoning: Exploring Nearby Stars

Students apply quantitative reasoning skills by considering a human spaceflight mission to Alpha Centauri.


Exponents and Scientific Notation

Students practice using exponents and scientific notation to understand the Universe.


Ratios, Proportionalities, and Units

Students use ratios, proportionalities, and unit analysis to simplify equations and solve problems.


Creating and Interpreting Plots

Students practice creating and interpreting plots in the context of understanding the Solar System.


Estimation and Uncertainty

Students practice quantitative skills related to estimation and uncertainty.


Earth’s Perspective

Students explore the geometry and motion of the Solar System and determine their effect on observations from Earth.


Phases of the Moon

Students investigate how the observed phase of the Moon depends on the orientation of Earth and Sun.


The North Star and Precession

Students explore the astronomical significance of the North Star.


What Causes the Seasons: Earth’s Tilted Axis

Students explore how the motions of Earth relative to the Sun cause seasonal variations on Earth.


What’s in a Day: Solar and Sidereal Rotation

Students explore timekeeping based on Earth’s rotation and revolution and compare to Mercury.


Planetary Motions and the Night Sky

Students infer the structure of the Solar System based on simple observations.


Observatories Around the World

Students investigate the criteria used to select observatory locations on Earth.


Tools for Astronomical Observations

Students investigate physical phenomena and observational techniques that are the essential tools for understanding astronomical objects.


Light, Color, and Filters

Students investigate the nature of colored light and the function of filters.



Students investigate the dispersion of light and interpret spectra to determine the composition of an object.


Atoms and Electrons: Absorption and Emission

Students explore the link between atomic energy levels and the observed spectrum of a star.


Images and Telescopes

Students investigate the structure of a modern research telescope and the functions of its optical parts.


Solar System and Exoplanets

Students explore the motions and physical properties of the Sun and planets in our Solar System and investigate the detection of exoplanetary systems.


Rotation of the Sun

Students investigate the rotation of the Sun and how it is observed from Earth.


Solar Energy and the Habitable Zone

Students explore how solar energy determines the location and size of the habitable zone around the Sun.


Bulk Density and Planet Composition

Students investigate how to infer the interior composition a planet based on its bulk density.


Gravity and Orbital Motion

Students use a gravity simulator to investigate orbital motion and Kepler’s Laws.


Gravitational Interactions in the Solar System

Students explore the gravitational influence of Jupiter on smaller objects in our planetary system.


Radial Velocity and Exoplanets: The Doppler Technique

Students investigate the indirect detection of exoplanets using the observed reflex motion of their host stars.


Photometry and Exoplanets: The Transit Technique

Students explore the indirect detection of exoplanets using photometric observations of stars.



Students examine the implications of thermal radiation and nuclear fusion on the properties of stars and stellar evolution and investigate the remnants.


Colors of Stars

Students investigate what the color of a star reveals about its physical properties.


Stars and the H-R Diagram

Students investigate the radius, luminosity and temperature of stars using the H-R diagram.


Star Clusters and the Ages of Stars     

Students apply stellar evolution and the H-R diagram to determine the ages of stars in clusters.


Nuclear Fusion and Energy in Stars

Students explore the creation of energy and heavy elements in stars.


Pulsars: Beams and Rotation

Students create a model of a pulsar and use it to understand observations of pulsars over time.


Gravity and Black Holes

Students investigate the exotic phenomena caused by the enormous gravity near a black hole.



Students investigate the properties of the Milky Way and other galaxies by applying concepts introduced in previous activities, including light, colors, spectra, mass, gravity, and motion.


The Effects of Interstellar Dust on Starlight

Students explore how dust affects starlight passing through interstellar space.


Mapping the Milky Way Galaxy

Students interpret observations to infer the structure of the Milky Way Galaxy and our location in it.


Spiral Arms and Star Formation

Students explore how the properties and motions of stars create the observed patterns in spiral galaxies.


Spiral Galaxies and Dark Matter

Students investigate how the motions of spiral galaxies provide evidence for dark matter.


Evolution of Galaxies

Students investigate the observational evidence for our understanding of galaxy evolution.


Students analyze the formation, structure, expansion and early history of the Universe and explore the advantages and limitations of light-based astronomical observations.


The Hubble Law and Expansion of the Universe

Students investigate the concept of expansion and consider how we can determine the age of the Universe.


Expansion and the Age of the Universe

Students apply the Hubble Law to determine the age of the Universe.


Accelerating Expansion and of the Universe

Students explore the history of expansion using the Hubble Law and distances to far-away supernovae.


Lookback Time and the Evolving Universe

Students explore implications of the finite speed of light and interpret observations of the distant Universe.


The Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation

Students examine the background radiation and what it implies about conditions in the early Universe.


First Three Minutes

Students explore what the relative proportions of H and He reveal about the first moments in the Universe.

For teachers

All the material you need to teach your courses.

Discover teaching material

Published by Pearson (September 12th 2013) - Copyright © 2014