Resources for Teaching Astro 101

by Guest on September 8, 2010

John Feldmeier is an assistant professor at Youngstown State University. He does research on high redshift galaxies and galaxy clusters. He is a member of the Collaboration of Astronomy Teaching Scholars, and just rotated off as the Center for Astronomy Education Guest Moderator of astrolrner.

It’s fall again, and everyone who is teaching Astro 101, the introductory astronomy class for non-science majors, is gearing up for the tsunami, or already trying to keep their head above water. Teaching this class can be quite challenging, but very rewarding. In an earlier article, Kelle mentioned many useful resources for Astro 101 instructors. In this post, I’m adding onto that list.


There has been a formal journal in astronomy education for almost a decade now—the Astronomy Education Review. This is a AAS-sponsored journal, and most of the innovations in Astro 101 teaching are now published here. This is an excellent place to start your thinking about astronomy education. It may be that some of your ideas and thoughts are also being studied by other people and you can benefit by building on their work. The journal is free to view and download.

Are you frustrated with outrageously expensive textbooks for your class? In that case, try out Nick Strobel’s free online Astro 101 textbook. Even if you don’t use the textbook, you can see how another instructor lays out their Astro 101 course in great detail.

Doug Duncan has an entire course on the nature of science that can be easily dropped into an Astro 101 course.

Some excellent animations and simulators useful for Astro 101 can be found at Kevin Lee’s website.


There are a few blogs that deal with astronomy education research. Two that I read are:

In addition, astronomy education improvements are often strongly influenced by physics education research. One blog I read from the physics education side is: Sciencegeekgirl.

Email Lists

If you teach Astro 101, you should be on the astrolrner email list. This email list has been around for over a decade now, and is filled with experts in the field. The list is moderated, so usually the signal-to-noise is very high. The archives may also answer the questions you have about your class.


In addition to the books mentioned in Kelle’s article, the Cosmos in the Classroom conference series in teaching introductory astronomy is available at the Astronomy Society of the Pacific website. The 2000, 2004 and 2007 editions are available in paper copy, and I understand the 2010 edition will also be out soon. These series are not just filled with articles on astronomy education, but also contain handouts and activities from other astronomy instructors. There may be something you can adopt immediately for your class that has been developed by another instructor.

Did we miss anything? What has helped you the most with your course? Share in the comments or on the Astro 101 Resources Wiki Page.

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