Lesson Plan: Classifying Stars by Brightness and Temperature Physics

This lesson plan includes the objectives, prerequisites, and exclusions of the lesson teaching students how to classify stars according to their brightness (or absolute magnitude) and their temperature (using their color).


Students will be able to

  • recall that the brightness of stars is measured using a scale called brightness magnitude,
  • recall that lower-value magnitudes actually correspond to brighter stars,
  • recall that the surface temperature of a star can be approximately determined by its color,
  • recall that bluer stars are hotter stars,
  • recall that redder stars are colder stars,
  • recall that white or yellow stars are stars with a similar surface temperature to the Sun.


Students should already be familiar with

  • what stars are.


Students will not cover

  • apparent magnitude (this lesson covers absolute magnitude only),
  • calculating the apparent magnitude from the absolute magnitude or vice versa,
  • measuring distances to stars,
  • color classification schemes (OBAFGKM),
  • flux.

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