Star Study




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A "Scout" can be defined as a trained and experienced observer.  He learns about nature and how to be at home in the out-of-doors.  He develops skills that help him explore the unknown.  Part of our natural environment is in the sky above.  Skilled observations of the stars also provide information about time, directions, and positions.

 Knowledge of our stellar environment can help develop our personal understanding of man, on a planet, in space; observing for only a flash in time.  Scouts and leaders have unique opportunities to observe the night sky -- free from the common obstructions of atmosphere, horizons and time.  Check out the BSA Handbook and Fieldbook to become experienced observers of our environment in space. "Be prepared" for a clear night sky.

All Scouts should have the Opportunity to:

bulletFind the north star -- use dippers and "W' constellations. 
bullet Use sun, moon, and north star for directions and time. 
bullet Find 12 Zodiac constellations and solar system objects (exclusive path of sun, moon and planets): Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces. 
bulletFind overhead seasonal star patterns: 
S  Summer triangle --Vega, Deneb, Altair 
F   Fall square -- part of Pegasus constellation  
W  Winter hexagon -- Sirius, Rigel, Aldebaran, Capella, Pollux, Procyon
(Sp  Spring arc big dipper handle, Arcturus, Spica S. 
bullet Read star maps find objects in night sky. 
bulletSkillfully observe: meteors, planets, eclipses, occultations, other events.

How to Be Prepared to observe transient events: bright meteors, comets, northern lights, nova, eclipse, etc.

Activities and Fun with: 

bulletVisit Planetarium (ask for Astro Merit Badge program?). 
bullet"Sun is a basketball" game -- divide sizes and distances by 5 billion. 
bulletStar Wheel map - rising, setting, time, horizon view and calendar. 
bulletMagazine map --constellations, names, planet positions. 
bulletStar atlas -- coordinates, binocular objects, plotting "new" objects. 
bulletUp-to-date information in Astro magazines and almanac; plan to observe future events. 
bullet3D field Astrogeometry -- positions and angles, demo. 
bulletPlanet position map -- move them around. 
bulletCamp out under the stars. Meteor watch.

Hang onto your Seat! 

bulletOur planet rotates with an equator surface speed of 1,000 miles/hour. 
bulletOur planet also orbits the sun at a speed of 19miles/second. 
bulletOur sun is also moving towards a point in the milky way galaxy at a speed of 12 miles/second. 
bulletOur milky way galaxy also has a rotational speed of 150 miles/second. 
bulletOur milky way galaxy also appears to be leaving a fixed point in space at 400 miles/second.  This is what the astronomers have observed -- so far!


bulletBSA Handbook and Fieldbook have sky maps and star-study information.
bulletStar wheel maps. Dial calendar and local time positions map for your horizon.  BSA #01055?
bulletSky Calendar publication $7.50/year Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824.
bulletAll about Telescopes by Sam Brown, #9094 $14.95 paperback; Edmund Scientific Co., 101 E. Gloucester Pike, Barrington, NJ 08007.
bulletBackyard Astronomy I &II, #SO013, $5. 00 Sky Publishing Corp., P.O. Box 9111, Belmont, MA 02178.
bulletField Guide to Stars and Planets by Menzel and Pasachoff. Peterson Field Guide Series #15, $15. 95; paperback; most book stores.
bulletMonthly magazines: Astronomy or Sky & Telescope, most newsstands.
bulletVisit your local planetarium, library, museum, astronomy club, science center, nature center or astronomical observatory.


bulletBinoculars are the best "telescope" for many reasons: cheap, easy to aim, wide field, bright image, easy to keep clean, very portable.  If you have difficulties with binoculars a telescope will be worse!
bulletGo to an astronomy clubs' observing session.  Try various telescopes and trade owners information and experiences.
bulletMany amateur astronomers build their own telescopes for important reasons.  They have learned how to avoid expensive shortcomings of factory telescopes.
bulletGet a Star Atlas and use it with binoculars to find all the objects you might be interested in. T his experience is needed to aim even the simplest telescope.
bulletWhat you view through a telescope will rarely look like the million-dollar observatory photographs shown in full color publications.  The few bright objects, will look similar but smaller.  Amateur photographs require skill, effort, luck, and significant expense.
bulletMany telescopes collect dust in closets or basements.  Some are too big to transport out of city lights, too complex to reassemble and set-up, too flimsy to aim and control, too dirty or abused, or the owner doesn't know enough about interesting objects or how to find them in the night sky.
bulletSky & Telescope and Astronomy magazines advertise telescopes, accessories and components for home-builts.  Technical telescope building information and detailed observing diagrams are also featured.  A couple years of magazine reading and numerous astronomy club contacts have shown excellent results for telescope acquisition and use.
bulletVisit your local planetarium and take astronomy courses at your nearby college.  The science of astronomy has many recent developments and discoveries that up-date previous theories and observations.  Library material and television programs contribute to a casual education and help inspire your own observations.



offers materials that relate to two Boy Scout Merit Badges.  They are the Astronomy badge and the Space Exploration badge.  Click on the link above to go directly to theses resources. Use your browser "BACK" button to return to this page.


Abrams Planetarium Skywatcher's Diary

Each month, the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Michigan State University makes the Skywatcher's Diary available over the Internet.



A collection of resources and links for people who watch and gaze at the night sky. 








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Last modified: October 15, 2016.