Science Reference Guides
Selected Teaching Aids: Astronomy for Schools
INTRODUCTION | INTRODUCTIONS TO ASTRONOMY AND FIELD GUIDES | TOPICAL AND
SPECIALIZED WORKS | ATLASES, CHARTS, MAPS AND RELATED GUIDES |
CONSTELLATION FIGURES, MYTHOLOGY, HISTORY, BIOGRAPHY | INDIVIDUAL
AND CLASS PROJECTS | PERIODICALS | ADDTIONAL RESOURCES
Introduction of the attractive subject of astronomy to secondary
curricula has been proven as a successful and felicitous method
of interesting students in science and scientific careers. Teaching
materials included in this bibliography emphasize an observational
and "hands-on" approach to creating a new awareness of our universe.
These sources, some for teachers and others for students, can be
used to develop courses, units, or concepts to stimulate learning.
Individual and class projects range from instructive visual activities
to the construction of telescopes. The history and rich mythology
of astronomy are included as proven incentives, as are corollary
subjects in meteorology. Nearly all of the sources represented
by main entries were in print (some in reprint editions) when this
guide was prepared.
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INTRODUCTIONS TO ASTRONOMY AND FIELD GUIDES
Chaisson, Eric, and S. McMillan. Astronomy today.
Instructor's ed. Englewood Cliffs, N.J., Prentice Hall, c1993.
1 v. (various pagings)
A university text for students who will probably not major
in astronomy or physics; very adaptable to secondary instruction. This edition
has a 90-page teachers' introduction with valuable ideas about conducting the
Claiborne, Robert. The summer stargazer: astronomy
for absolute beginners. New York, Coward, McCann & Geoghegan,
c1975. 222 p.
Out of print, but still one of the very best guides for the
Dunlop, Storm. Astronomy: a step-by-step guide
to the night sky. New York, Collier Books, 1985. 192 p. (Macmillan
Similar to, but somewhat more advanced than, Muirden's Astronomy
handbook (see below).
Hamburg, Michael. Astronomy made simple.
Based on the original ed. by Meir H. Degani. 4th ed. New York,
Doubleday, 1993. 237 p.
Suitable for younger students.
Jobb, Jamie. The night sky book: an everyday
guide to every night. Boston, Little, Brown, c1977. 127 p.
An elementary introduction with projects.
Moch, Dinah L. Astronomy: a self-teaching guide.
5th ed. New York, Wiley, c2000. 342 p.
In workbook format, suitable for high schools.
Muirden, James. Astronomy handbook. New York,
Arco Pub., c1982. 189 p.
A "first book" for junior high level and upwards; includes
Pasachoff, Jay M. Field guide to the stars and
planets. 4th ed. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 2000. 578 p.
A handy guide for those with a little experience, but not as
easy or pleasant to use as the classic field guide on this level, by William
T. Olcott and Edmund W. Putnam, Field book of the skies, first published
in 1929 and later revised, finally by R. Newton Mayall and Margaret W. Mayall,
now out of print but available in many school libraries.
Peltier, Leslie C. Leslie Peltier's guide to
the stars. Milwaukee, AstroMedia; Cambridge, Eng., Cambridge
University Press, c1986. 185 p.
Observing with naked eye and binoculars; suitable for all secondary
The skywatcher's handbook: night and day, what
to look for in the heavens above. Consultant editor, Colin
A. Ronan. New York, Crown Publishers, c1985. 224 p.
Astronomical and meteorological observations; the sky around
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TOPICAL AND SPECIALIZED WORKS
Bone, Neil. Observing meteors, comets, supernovae,
and other transient phenomena. London, Eng., Springer, c1999.
Meteor watching, especially during periodic "showers," as an
easy and rewarding pursuit.
Covington, Michael A. Astrophotography for the
amateur. 2nd ed. Cambridge, Eng., New York, Cambridge University
Press, 1999. 331 p.
What can be accomplished at various levels of astrophotography,
with and without a telescope.
Darling, David J. Could you ever meet an alien? Minneapolis,
Minn., Dillon Press, c1990. 58 p.
An elementary introduction to the search for extraterrestrial
Fulton, Ken. The light-hearted astronomer.
Milwaukee, Wis., AstroMedia Corp., 1984. 115 p.
An entertaining caveat to the novice about the pitfalls of
steering a beginning course and choosing equipment. A "must" before purchasing
a first telescope; see also Harrington, Star ware, below.
Greenler, Robert. Rainbows, halos, and glories.
Cambridge, Eng., New York, Cambridge University Press, 1980. 195
A congenial guide to these phenomena, with much information
about other meteorological subjects; see Meinel, Sunsets, twilights, and evening
Harrington, Philip S. Star ware: the amateur
astronomer's ultimate guide to choosing, buying, and using telescopes
and accessories. 2nd ed. New York, Wiley, c1998. 376 p.
To be consulted with Fulton, The light-hearted astronomer (see
above) before selecting astronomical equipment.
Harrington, Philip S. Touring the universe through
binoculars: a complete astronomer's guidebook. New York,
Wiley, c1990. 294 p.
Much can be seen with binoculars of various powers.
More advanced than Moore, Exploring the night sky with binoculars (see
below); contains extensive information about suitable objects, but lacks locating
diagrams such as Moore's and must be used with an atlas.
International Astronomical Union. Colloquium, 105th,
Williamstown, Mass., 1988. The teaching of astronomy. Proceedings.
Edited by Jay M. Pasachoff, John R. Percy. Cambridge, Eng., New
York, Cambridge University Press, 1990. 445 p.
"Astronomy may well be the most appealing science to students
and the general public." A collection of papers about astronomy education, discussing
astronomy and culture, the teaching process, student projects, textbooks, the
use of computers, teaching aids and resources, high school courses, teacher training,
and the value of planetariums.
Jackson, Francis, and Patrick Moore. Life in
the universe. 2nd ed. New York, W. W. Norton, 1989, c1987.
The origins of life and possibilities of life on other worlds.
McDonough, Thomas R. The search for extraterrestrial
intelligence: listening for life in the cosmos. New York,
Wiley, c1987. 244 p.
A history of scientific and popular speculation, from the ancients
to SETI and beyond.
Macvey, John W. Interstellar travel: past, present,
and future. Chelsea, Mich., Scarborough House, 1991. 253
Useful to consult for class discussions about future possibilities
of space travel and the UFO controversy.
Matloff, Gregory L. The urban astronomer: a practical
guide for observers in cities and suburbs. New York, Wiley,
c1991. 224 p.
The author demonstrates that one can successfully observe from
light polluted urban locations, but his estimate is at times conservative; for
example, even the elusive planet Mercury can be seen from inner cities.
Meinel, Aden B., and Marjorie P. Meinel. Sunsets,
twilights, and evening skies. Cambridge, Eng., New York,
Cambridge University Press, 1983. 163 p.
Best used with Greenler, Rainbows, halos and glories (see
above) as a guide to meteorological observations.
Moore, Patrick. Exploring the night sky with
binoculars. 4th ed. Cambridge, Eng., New York, Cambridge
University Press, 2000. 213 p.
See the annotation to Harrington, Touring the universe through
Motz, Lloyd, and Carol Nathanson. The constellations.
New York, Doubleday, c1988. 411 p.
A detailed guide to the constellations, their stars and deep
sky objects, organized by season, with much background information.
Muirden, James. The amateur astronomer's handbook.
3rd ed. New York, Harper & Row, c1983. 472 p.
A comprehensive guide for students who have read a basic introduction.
Muirden, James. How to use an astronomical telescope:
a beginner's guide to observing the cosmos. New York, Simon & Schuster,
1988. 400 p.
Useful comparisons of telescope designs, with observing techniques
The new solar system. Edited by J. Kelly
Beatty, Andrew Chaikin; introd. by Carl Sagan. 4th ed. Cambridge,
Eng., New York, Cambridge University Press; Cambridge, Mass., Sky
Pub. Corp., 1999. 421 p.
What is known about the Sun's system after the achievements
of the eighties.
Reddy, Francis, and Greg Walz-Chojnacki. Celestial
delights: the best astronomical events through 2001. Berkeley,
Calif., CelestialArts, c1992. 135 p.
Forthcoming attractions, from eclipses to planetary conjunctions
Sagan, Carl. Cosmos. New York, Random House,
c1980. 365 p.
Based on the popular and informative TV series, which is currently
available on videocassette.
Sagan, Carl, and Ann Druyan. Comet. New York,
Ballantine Books, c1997. 398 p.
A well illustrated work on comets, written for the recent return
of Comet Halley.
Schaaf, Fred. The starry room: naked eye astronomy
in the intimate universe. New York, Wiley, c1988. 264 p.
(Wiley science editions)
Creative essays promoting a return to naked eye observation.
Silk, Joseph. The big bang. Rev. and updated
ed. New York, W. H. Freeman, c1994. 246 p.
A relatively simple account of the new cosmology.
Webb, T. W. Celestial objects for common telescopes.
Edited and rev. by Margaret W. Mayall. New York, Dover Publications,
1962. 2 v.
"A revised and enlarged publication of the sixth edition" that
appeared in 1917. First published in 1859, "Webb" has inspired generations of
observers with small instruments.
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ATLASES, CHARTS, MAPS, AND RELATED GUIDES
Arthur, D. W. G., A. P. Agnieray, and R. H. Pellicori. Lunar
designations and positions. Quadrants I-IV. Tucson, Ariz.,
Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona, c1964.
4 maps. 58 x 69 cm.
"The map corresponds to a lunar sphere with a radius of 50
centimeters." Shows the moon's near side in considerable detail.
Chandler, David. The night sky, shown in dual
perspective for reduced distortion. For use in the range
38■-50■ north latitude; exact for 40■. [Planisphere] Cambridge,
Mass., produced in cooperation with Sky Pub. Corp., c1977. 25
x 25 cm.
A simple and very useful two-sided "star wheel" for locating
celestial objects and demonstrating their apparent movements; also available
for other latitudes.
Mars globe from Viking imagery. Scale ca.
1:22, 250,000. Belmont, Mass., Sky Pub. Corp., c1990. 1 globe 31
cm. in diam. + 1 sheet ( p.)
Norton, Arthur P. Norton's 2000.0: star atlas
and reference handbook (epoch 2000.0). 18th ed., rev. under
the editorship of Ian Ridpath. Harlow, Eng., Longman Scientific & Technical;
New York, Wiley, 1989. 179 p.
A standard atlas and astronomer's guide, first published in
1910. The charts locate about 8,700 stars to visual magnitude 6.49 and about
600 deep sky objects.
Ottewell, Guy. Astronomical calendar. 1974+
Greenville, S.C., sponsored by the Dept. of Physics, Furman University,
in cooperation with the Astronomical League. annual.
The 1994 issue (73 p.) contains a sky chart and timetable of
events for each month, data on planetary movements and other phenomena, and much
Ottewell, Guy. The astronomical companion.
Greenville, S.C., Ottewell, c1979. 73 p.
Designed to be used with Ottewell's annual Astronomical
calendar (see above); definitions, facts and figures.
Tirion, Wil. Sky atlas 2000.0: 26 star charts,
covering both hemispheres. Deluxe ed. Cambridge, Mass., Sky
Pub. Corp.; Cambridge, Eng., Cambridge University Press, 1981.
2 folded p., 26 folded leaves; 26 charts.
QB65.T54 1981 fol.
Transparent overlay of projection grids laid in. Locates about
43,000 stars to visual magnitude 8.1 and about 2,500 deep sky objects. Also available
in the form of 27 separate, flat sheets, with black stars on white background
or white stars on black background.
Tirion, Wil. Wil Tirion's bright star atlas 2000.0.
Richmond, Va., Willmann-Bell, 1990. 1 v. (various pagings)
A useful paperbound "starter" atlas, suitable for easy reference
in the field when naked eye, binocular and telescopic observations do not require
more detailed maps. Stars visible to the optically unaided limit and many brighter
deep sky objects are included.
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CONSTELLATION FIGURES, MYTHOLOGY, HISTORY, BIOGRAPHY
Allen, Richard H. Star names: their lore and
meaning. New York, Dover Publications, 1963. 563 p.
"An unabridged and corrected republication of the work first
published ... in 1899 ...."
Ashbrook, Joseph. The astronomical scrapbook:
skywatchers, pioneers and seekers in astronomy. Cambridge,
Eng., New York, Cambridge University Press; Cambridge, Mass.,
Sky Pub. Corp., 1984. 468 p.
A collection of historical and topical articles first published
in Sky & telescope.
Cohen, Martin. In quest of telescopes. Cambridge,
Eng., New York, Cambridge University Press; Cambridge, Mass., Sky
Pub. Corp., 1980. 131 p.
What professional astronomers do; an autobiography that includes
Gingerich, Owen. The great Copernicus chase and
other adventures in astronomical history. Cambridge, Mass.,
Sky Pub. Corp., Cambridge, Eng., New York, Cambridge University
Press, 1992. 304 p.
Astronomer and historian Gingerich's articles, collected from
Goldsmith, Donald. The astronomers. New York,
St. Martin's Press, c1991. 332 p.
"Companion book to the PBS television series."
Working scientists and current issues; the TV production is
available on videocassette.
Hadingham, Evan. Early man and the cosmos.
New York, Walker, 1984. 271 p.
An introduction to the relatively recent discipline of archaeoastronomy.
Krupp, E. C. Beyond the blue horizon: myths and
legends of the sun, moon, stars, and planets. New York, HarperCollins,
c1992. 387 p.
BL325.S5 K78 1992
How different cultures and civilizations have developed stories
to explain the cosmos.
Levy, David H. Clyde Tombaugh, discoverer of
planet Pluto. Tucson, University of Arizona Press, c1991.
QB36.T6 L48 1991
A biography of an American who is the only living person to
have found an unknown major planet and the only investigator to do so since 1846.
Levy, David H. The quest for comets: an explosive
trail of beauty and danger. New York, Plenum Press, c1994.
Hunting for new comets; workers and their techniques.
Moore, Patrick. Watchers of the stars: the scientific
revolution. New York, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1974. 239 p.
The lives and contributions of Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Kepler,
Galileo, and Newton.
Pannekoek, Anton. A history of astronomy.
New York, Dover Publications, 1989, c1961. 521 p.
The standard 20th century history.
Peltier, Leslie C. Starlight nights: the adventures
of a star- gazer. New York, Harper & Row, 1965. 236 p.
The autobiography of an eminent American amateur astronomer,
available as a paperback reprint from Sky Publishing Corporation.
Preston, Richard. First light. London, Eng.,
Corgi Books, 1998. 318 p.
An account of astronomers working at Palomar, with the background
of figures in the construction, operation, and use of the telescopes there.
Sesti, Giuseppe M. The glorious constellations:
history and mythology. New York, H. N. Abrams, 1991. 495
QB802.S4713 1991 fol.
Translation by Karin H. Ford of Le dimore del cielo;
an extensively illustrated history of ideas concerning the constellations visible
in the northern hemisphere, with chapters on the development of astronomy as
Sheehan, William. Worlds in the sky: planetary
discovery from earliest times through Voyager and Magellan.
Tucson, University of Arizona Press, c1992. 243 p.
A history of man's fascination with the solar system, written
as an introduction to planetary astronomy.
Staal, Julius D. W. The new patterns in the sky:
myths and legends of the stars. Blacksburg, Va., McDonald
and Woodward Pub. Co., 1988. 300 p.
Revised edition of Patterns in the sky (1961); mythology
of the constellations from many cultures, with numerous illustrations of the
Stott, Carole. The Greenwich guide to astronomy
in action. Cambridge, Eng., New York, Cambridge University
Press, 1989. 96 p.
The ways in which astronomers pursue their research.
Tucker, Wallace, and Karen Tucker. The cosmic
inquirers: modern telescopes and their makers. Cambridge,
Mass., Harvard University Press, 1986. 221 p.
The conception, design, construction and use of five important
Verdet, Jean-Pierre. The sky: mystery, magic,
and myth. New York, H. N. Abrams, 1992. 199 p.
Translation by Anthony Zielonka of Ciel, ordre et désordre;
the wonders of the sky in the popular mind through history.
Willard, Berton C. Russell W. Porter: Arctic
explorer, artist, telescope maker. Freeport, Me., Bond Wheelwright
Co., c1976. 274 p.
QB36.P63 W54 1976
The life of the American founder of the amateur telescope making
Wright, Helen. Explorer of the universe: a biography
of George Ellery Hale. Woodbury, N.Y., American Institute
of Physics, c1994. 487 p.
QB460.72.H35 W75 1994
Reprint of the 1966 ed. with an introduction by Allan Sandage.
Hale, an American founder of astrophysics, was also a developer of pioneering
telescopes, including the 200-inch Palomar reflector, for many years the world's
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INDIVIDUAL AND CLASS PROJECTS
Apfel, Necia H. Astronomy projects for young
scientists. New York, Arco Pub., c1984. 122 p.
Instructions for such activities as building a simple planetarium,
detecting cosmic rays, and timing occultations.
Ballard, Jim. The handbook for star trackers:
making and using star tracking camera platforms. Cambridge,
Mass., Sky Pub. Corp., c1988. 124 p.
How to make platforms for guided celestial photography from
Berry, Richard. Build your own telescope.
Richmond, Va., Willmann-Bell, c1994. 276 p.
How to construct five different telescopes using readily available
tools and supplies, including commercial optics.
Docekal, Eileen M. Sky detective: investigating
the mysteries of space. New York, Sterling Pub. Co., 1992.
Twelve cleverly presented detective "cases" to be solved. For
junior high students.
Hemenway, Mary Kay, and R. Robert Robbins. Modern
astronomy: an activities approach. 1st rev. ed. Austin, University
of Texas Press, 1991. 228 p.
Learning the concepts of astronomy through "hands-on" lessons.
Although written for a college course, the book is easily adapted to a secondary
Lancaster-Brown, Peter. Skywatch: eyes-on activities
for getting to know the stars, planets & galaxies. New York,
Sterling, 1993. 128 p.
Projects for the naked eye, binoculars and small telescopes.
Perry, Phyllis Jean. "Exploring astronomy." In her A
teacher's science companion. Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., TAB
Books, c1994. p. 90-103.
Simple activities such as drawing a sky map and constructing
a "star box" planetarium; with a valuable bibliography of resources.
Project STAR: the universe in your hands.
Harold P. Coyle, Bruce Gregory, William M. Luzader, Philip M. Sadler,
Irwin I. Shapiro. Dubuque, Iowa, Kendall/Hunt Pub. Co., 1993. 384
An excellent "hands-on" secondary course in astronomy, based
on a series of student activities developed by Project STAR (Science Teaching
through its Astronomical Roots), sponsored by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center
for Astrophysics and supported by the National Science Foundation and other organizations.
Information about STAR classroom materials which students can construct from
kits (such as a simple Galilean telescope) can be obtained from Learning Technologies,
Inc., 59 Walden St., Cambridge, Mass. 02140.
Schaaf, Fred. Seeing the deep sky: telescopic
astronomy projects beyond the solar system. New York, Wiley,
c1992. 206 p.
Thirty-five projects involving stars, star clusters, nebulae
Schaaf, Fred. Seeing the sky: 100 projects, activities,
and explorations in astronomy. New York, Wiley, c1990. 212
A variety of ideas, chiefly promoting naked eye observations.
Schaaf, Fred. Seeing the solar system: telescopic
projects, activities, and explorations in astronomy. New
York, Wiley, c1991. 208 p.
Fifty-three projects for observing the planets, Moon, Sun,
comets and meteors.
Schatz, Dennis. Astronomy activity book: with
star-finder wheel. New York, Little Simon, 1991. 48 p.
"Hands-on" exercises to teach the basics of astronomy, with
clever illustrations and a cutout planisphere.
Thompson, Allyn J. Making your own telescope.
Cambridge, Mass., Sky Pub. Corp., 1947. 211 p.
One of the most educational and rewarding class activities
is grinding, polishing and testing a reflecting telescope mirror and mounting
it in a simple, working scope. This classic of the amateur telescope making movement
tells how; the eleventh printing is currently available.
VanCleave, Janice P. Janice VanCleave's astronomy
for every kid: 101 easy experiments that really work. New
York, Wiley, c1991. 229 p.
Suitable for junior high students; written by a science teacher.
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Astronomy. v. 1+ Aug. 1973+ Waukesha, Wis.,
Kalmbach Pub. Co. monthly.
For the less advanced reader; one of the two best selling popular
astronomy magazines in the United States. For the other see Sky & telescope,
Odyssey. v. 1+ Jan. 1979+ Milwaukee, Wis.,
AstroMedia Corp. 10 no. a year.
For young readers. Includes scientific articles and news as
well as suggestions for projects, experiments, and puzzles in the field of astronomy.
Beginning with the Dec. 1991 issue, Odyssey was taken
over by Cobblestone Pub. Co. in Peterborough, N.H., with an entirely new editorial
staff. It has adopted a smaller format and, in 1992, a new volume numbering.
Sky & telescope. v. 1+ Nov. 1941+ Cambridge,
Mass., Sky Pub. Corp. monthly.
Some contributions are more advanced than those in Astronomy.
Both periodicals have informative articles and excellent coverage of celestial
Sky calendar. 1969+ East Lansing, Abrams
Planetarium, Michigan State University. monthly.
Each issue, consisting of a single sheet, provides sketches
of noteworthy celestial occurrences, day by day. A simplified sky chart appears
on the verso.
The universe in the classroom. no. 1+ winter
1984/85+ San Francisco, Astronomical Society of the Pacific. quarterly.
An indispensable periodical, offered free to teachers, school
librarians and administrators by Astronomical Society of the Pacific, 390 Ashton
Avenue, San Francisco, Cal., 94112.
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Free, up-to-date catalogs can be obtained from Astronomical Society
of the Pacific (address under Periodicals, above) and Sky Publishing
Corp., P.O. Box 9111, Belmont, Mass. 02178, listing resources from
many publishers. Books, maps, globes, computer software (a rapidly
expanding and valuable medium for those equipped to use it), videocassettes,
audiocassettes, slides, posters and other teaching aids are included.
All science teachers can profit from reviews in the periodical Science
books and films, published nine times per year by the American
Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The periodicals Astronomy and Sky & telescope (see
above) regularly include reviews and notices of books, software
and other aids suitable for teaching, and have ads for many astronomy
With several notable exceptions, this list emphasizes recently
published resources, but many earlier books, frequently found in
school libraries, can be of great value. Only a few of many possible
examples follow. The works of Garrett P. Serviss introduced countless
novices, young and old, to the heavens; see especially Astronomy
with an opera-glass (1888 and later eds.), Astronomy with
the naked eye (1908), The moon, a popular treatise (1907), Pleasures
of the telescope (1901), and Round the year with the stars (1910).
For many years W. B. White, Seeing stars (1935) was a deservedly
popular primer; its very simple constellation figures are still
useful. Henry M. Neely, The star finder (1943) also has
excellent introductory constellation charts, and includes one of
the most easily understood explanations of apparent celestial movements
ever published. A discontinued periodical, Telescope making (1978-92;
46 quarterly issues), found in larger libraries, contains valuable
articles on its subject.
Compiled by Ronald S. Wilkinson
Second, revised and enlarged edition: November 1994
updated 3/1995 (MC)