Rochester Museum And Science Center

Moon, Planets, Stars (Homeschool course for ages 12 to 15)

Astronomy for Teens: Moon, Planets, Stars
Course number T807
Ten 90-minute sessions, Wednesdays, Oct. 1 through Dec. 10 except Nov. 26,
from 9:30 to 11:00am
Strasenburgh Planetarium lobby and Star Theater
Fee $200. To enroll, please call (585) 697-1942. A parent’s or guardian’s e-mail address will be the primary means of communication about the course and is required for enrollment.
Enrollment deadline: Friday, September 26 at 4pm. If minimum enrollment is not reached by the deadline, RMSC may cancel the course and issue refunds.
Instructors: Steve Fentress, Director, Strasenburgh Planetarium; Paul J. Krupinski, Strasenburgh Planetarium show presenter and proprietor of the Mobile Dome Planetarium, Buffalo, NY
Interest in the topic, desire to learn, and willingness to support an environment that allows all participants to learn and gain benefit from the course. Enrollment in our three-week September course "At Home Under the Autumn Sky" is helpful but not necessary. Overlap between the two courses will be minimal, other than regular reviews of important topics such as current constellations and planets.
Practical information
Parents and guardians should bring students to the Planetarium East Avenue entrance (the back door will be locked) between 9:20 and 9:30am for each session to allow time for sign-in and picking up a name badge.
Parents and guardians are welcome to work alongside students, sit at the side, or drop off and pick up with proper sign-in and sign-out.
Please bring:
- Two or three sharpened pencils with erasers
- A calculator or other device that includes a calculator
Course fee includes a three-ring binder and paper handouts for students to keep. Please bring your binder to each class meeting.
Parents and guardians are responsible for students' health needs while they are at RMSC. This includes dispensing any needed medications.
Please arrange for non-distracting activities for siblings not enrolled in the course.

Syllabus and topic

Here is our plan for the course. However, as we go, instructors may rearrange topics or change the amount of time devoted to particular topics according to their judgment of what will provide the most worthwhile experience for students.

Session 1: Wednesday, Oct. 1
In the Planetarium: paths of the moon through our sky and how they relate to the sun’s paths
Eclipse patterns (what’s a “tetrad”?); how to use patterns to predict, why the patterns work
Session 2: Wednesday, Oct. 8
(Lunar eclipse from 5:15am till sunrise at 7:22. Everyone is invited to public viewing in the Planetarium back parking lot starting at 5:00am. Our regular session begins at 9:30am.)
Discuss this morning’s lunar eclipse
“Our Favorite Moon” Planetarium show with discussion
Session 3: Wednesday, Oct. 15
In the Planetarium: fall constellation review
Orbits: Kepler’s laws part 1
Discover/verify from tables of solar system data
Session 4: Wednesday, Oct. 22
In the Planetarium: fall and winter planet motions review
Orbits: Kepler’s laws part 2
Use Kepler’s laws to find travel times to other planets
Session 5: Wednesday, Oct. 29
“Solar System 2015” Planetarium show with discussion
More in depth on Pluto and Kuiper Belt
Session 6: Wednesday, Nov. 5
“Gravity and Energy in the Universe” Planetarium show with discussion
Plan a space mission to Pluto, given constraints
Session 7: Wednesday, Nov. 12
“The Search for Another Earth” Planetarium show with discussion
Learn how to search for exoplanet transits in Kepler data; figure out habitable zones
Session 8: Wednesday, Nov. 19
“Wonders of Orion” Planetarium show and discussion
Orion and other winter stars, part 1: stars, star colors, star distances
Session 9: Wednesday, Dec. 3
In the Planetarium: the southern hemisphere sky
Orion and other winter stars, part 2: star birth
Session 10: Wednesday, Dec. 10
In the Planetarium: review of winter sky; preview of spring sky
Orion and other winter stars, part 3: star death and recycling: red giants, supernovas, white dwarfs

Get ready for upcoming eclipses -- including the eclipse of the moon on October 8 -- by exploring this website by NASA eclipse expert Fred Espenak: