In college I got my dream job: I was hired by the university Astronomy department to lead “stargaze” presentations. Night after night I walked out on the roof of the physical sciences building to tell students the story of the stars. I got to play with expensive telescopes. I got to attend planetarium conventions—yes, they have those. Sometimes I would go up on the rooftop alone, away from the bustle of the 18,000-student campus, and just look up at the stars.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had a love of astronomy, which is why I am so excited about my newest project: Experience Astronomy. It’s a full-school year e-course, ideal for homeschoolers (but public or private schoolers could certainly participate too).
Why Experience Astronomy?
- You, the parent, don’t have to be the expert: I’ll do all the teaching for you (via video).
- It’s integrative: The course includes integration with history, literature, and even the Bible.
- No special equipment needed: Your student will study the stars the way the ancients did—with their own two eyes.
- It’s interactive: Your student will get outside on a weekly basis to take notes or draw specific observations in the sky.
- From the comfort of home: All the required activities can be done online or in your own backyard.
- Christian emphasis: The subject of astronomy is studied through a Christian worldview.
Astronomy as a Core Subject
As kids move through middle school and high school years, there are predictable science courses offered: biology, chemistry, physics, earth sciences, and perhaps even environmental sciences or anatomy. Astronomy is often forgotten—and yet for centuries, astronomy was one of the seven classical liberal arts of education.
Going back to the ancient Greeks, and some would argue even earlier, astronomy was taught alongside arithmetic, geometry, and music as the four “mathematical sciences.” The ancients believed to engage in these studies was to discover the beauty of the order of the universe—and, I would add, the beauty of the One who made the universe. “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1).
When you get access to the course, you’ll get…
- One new instructional video per week
- A weekly comprehension quiz
- A printable Field Guide with weekly outdoor observation activities
- Bonuses assignments like optional readings or other videos to watch
The course starts in early September and goes through May.
Plus, you get discounts if you sign up multiple students.
What Will My Student Learn About?
The course is designed for students 12 years old and up. You can stop by and watch 2 free lessons to decide if it would be right for your child.
The course will teach students…
- Biblical reasons given why God created the sun, moon, and stars
- How to find and identify dozens of major constellations
- How to use the sky for navigation
- Understanding how solar eclipses and lunar eclipses work
- The rotation of the earth, causing the apparent motion of the heavenly bodies
- The revolution of the earth around the sun, causing seasonal skies
- How astronomy shaped our modern calendar
- The Biblical calendar and it relationship to astronomy
- Information about how auroras work (the northern and southern lights)
- The phases and revolution of the moon
- Detailed understanding of each of the five classical planets: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn
- Descriptions of other objects in the solar system, such as recently discovered planets, dwarf planets, and asteroids
- Exploration of what scientists know about deep space objects like distant stars and other galaxies
- Mythological stories behind the constellations
- Meteor showers and comets
- The differences between astronomy and astrology
- Modern exploration of the moon
- How the heliocentric (sun-centered) model of the solar system was discovered
- How understanding astronomy brings specific Bible stories to life in a fresh way—such as the Abrahamic covenant, the Exodus, the conquest of the Promised Land, the Hebrew calendar, and more
What Will the Outdoor Activities Be Like?
The homework for Experience Astronomy is not like most classes your child has taken. Most of the activities are very easy to complete, things like, “Go outside and draw _______ constellation.” But students need to go outside at the times assigned, whether it is 5 a.m., 10 p.m., midnight, etc.
The goal of these activities is to observe and note changes in the sky over time and to give your child a more intuitive understanding of the location of objects in the sky.
What about bad weather? Bad weather is inevitable, making star observations impossible. Clear weather should be taken advantage of whenever possible. Some weeks have cloudy skies every day. Not to worry. Most outdoor activities can be postponed a week without a problem. When the bad weather doesn’t let up, it may be necessary to skip certain activities, but this will not interfere with the overall purpose of the course.