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Lesson Plan: Stars and Galaxies Science

This lesson plan includes the objectives and exclusions of the lesson teaching students how to use the light-year as a measure of the distances between stars in the Milky Way.


Students will be able to

  • understand that stars are very large, very hot objects that are very far away,
  • understand that a light-year is a unit used to measure astronomical distances,
  • know the length of a light-year in kilometers,
  • understand that there are billions of stars in a galaxy,
  • know that our galaxy is called the Milky Way,
  • understand that the Milky Way has a spiral shape,
  • know the major types of optical telescope,
  • understand that the Sun takes several hundred million years to orbit the center of the Milky Way,
  • know that the solar system is located in one of the spiral arms of the Milky Way,
  • know the definition of a light-year as the distance traveled by a beam of light in one year.


Students will not cover

  • the names of any galaxies other than the Milky Way,
  • the shape of, size of, or distance to any other galaxies,
  • converting distance values between light-years and other units,
  • any other astronomical distance units, like the AU and the parsec,
  • the interior workings of telescopes,
  • mirrors or lenses,
  • reflection or refraction diagrams.

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