Astronomy Research Course

Course Standards

  • HS.ESS-SS (Space System)
    • a.) Construct explanations from evidence about how the stability and structure of the sun change over its lifetime at time
      scales that are short (solar flares), medium (the hot spot cycle), and long (changes over its 10-billion-year lifetime).
      [Clarification Statement: Evidence for long-term changes includes the Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram.]
    • b.) Use mathematical, graphical, or computational models to represent the distribution and patterns of galaxies and galaxy
      clusters in the Universe to describe the Sun’s place in space.
    • c.) Construct explanations for how the Big Bang theory accounts for all observable astronomical data including the red
      shift of starlight from galaxies, cosmic microwave background, and composition of stars and nonstellar gases.
    • d.) Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about the process by which stars produce all elements except those
      elements formed during the Big Bang. [Clarification Statement: Nuclear fusion within certain stars produce atomic nuclei lighter than and including ironheavier elements are produced when certain massive stars achieve a supernova stage and explode.]
    • e.) Use mathematical representations of the positions of objects in the Solar System to predict their motions and gravitational effects on each other. [Assessment Boundary: Mathematical representations, which include Kepler’s Laws, should not deal with more than 2bodies.]
      • Science and Engineering Practices
        • Analyzing and Interpreting Data
        • Using Mathematical and Computational
        • Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
        • Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information
      • Disciplinary Core Ideas
        • ESS1.A: The Universe and Its Stars
        • ESS1.B: Earth and the Solar System
      • Crosscutting Concepts
        • System and System Models
        • Energy and Matter


  • MS.ESS-SS (Space Systems)
    • b.) Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about the expansion and scale of the universe to support the Big Bang theory.


  • Common Core State Standards Connections:
    • ELA
      • W.11-12.7) Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
      • W.11-12.9(b) Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
      • RST.11-12.9) Synthesize information from a range of sources (e.g., texts, experiments, simulations) into a coherent understanding of a process, phenomenon, or concept, resolving conflicting information when possible.
    • Mathematics
      • MP.2) Reason abstractly and quantitatively
      • MP.4) Model with mathematics
      • MP.5) Use appropriate tools strategically
      • S.ID) Summarize, represent, and interpret data on a single count or measurement variable; Summarize, represent, and interpret data on two categorical and quantitative variables


  • HS.ESS-HE (History of Earth)
    • a.) Analyze determined or hypothetical isotope ratios within Earth materials to make valid and reliable scientific claims about the planet’s age, the ages of Earth events and rocks, and the overall time scale of Earth’s history. [Assessment Boundary:Radiometric dating techniques using complex methods such as multiple isotope ratios are not included.]