ISTAT Banner


Each activity or resource is labeled by access mode:

Requires computer access
Requires downloading from the Web
$$ Order materials and supplies
Main Topics & Concepts
  • Light intensity diminishes via inverse square law; thus the need for efficient collection devices.
  • Reflective telescopes (those based on mirrors rather than lenses) are more common today because they offer greater apertures and collecting areas.
  • Wavelengths such as radio, infrared, ultraviolet, and x-ray are collected through different technologies.
This topic applies to California state standards 2d in 9th grade Earth Science and 4f in 9th grade Physical Science. 
Science Probe Text
Science Probe I § 15.2 Tools of the Modern Astronomer

Activity Access Description
S P I:
Activity 15C Viewing the Universe 

 Students record their existing notions about how astronomers observe, and add to their knowledge as the unit progresses.

Activities & Lessons
Activity Access Description


Universe at Your Fingertips

J-9 What Makes Good Viewing?


book  Students brainstorm about negative influences on telescopes, and then test their ideas with experiments. Students investigate background light levels and how they affect our ability to see faint objects.

Universe at Your Fingertips

J-10 Building an Optical Telescope; Making a Simple Parabolic Reflector


book Students construct a telescope from simple materials and investigate what the telescopes can resolve clearly. The second activity is a demonstration about focusing radio waves using an umbrella and aluminum foil.

Get the Picture!

Imagine the Universe
web Students use a simulated 2-dimensional detector to create a model of a satellite image.  Introduction to digital images,  pixels and false color imaging.

*Astronomical Society of the Pacific Ordering info $$

Resources Access Description

Nick Stoebel's Astronomy Notes

web Four page cook's tour of telescopes, mostly about visible and radio, with modern telescopes and the Hubble as examples. A lot of type, so it is a bit text-booky but good background.
The Hubble Space Telescope: Design and Development

ThinkQuest Library

web  This sight shows all the main parts of the HST with descriptions of their functions, and outlines the development of a major space observatory over time.
Your Sky

Fourmilab/John Walker

web Want to go observing? This program generates sky maps for any location on Earth at any time. You must print out the results unless you can take your lap top to the hill-top. Hpas can be a bit busy, and you have to convert to Universal time, but it also produces horizon views, which are handy for first time star-gazing.
The Chandra Mirrors

Chandra Education/Outreach

web Quicktime movies illustrate the principles of grazing incidence mirrors used in short wavelength astronomy. Suitable for projection; you get a choice of two resolution for bandwidth compatibility.
Java Tutorials on Optics-Full Frame CCD Operation

Molecular Expressions

web  Short Applet illustrates the way a Charge Coupled Device (CCD) converts a grid of charges into an image (microscopy application). This page has small print!