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Astronomy Project Ideas

Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail How big a ruler would you need to measure the circumference of the Earth? Did you know that you can do it with a yardstick? (And you won't have to travel all the way around the world!) Read more
Astro_p018
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Prerequisites You will need to understand some basic principles of geometry for this project. You will need a friend or relative in a distant city to make a shadow measurement for you on the same day you make yours. Both of you will need clear weather.
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail Scientists have known for hundreds of years that sunspot activity waxes and wanes over a cycle that lasts approximately 11 years. In the 1970's, scientists discovered that the sun periodically blasts electrified gases into space, in huge outbursts called 'coronal mass ejections,' or CMEs. This project asks the question: do CMEs follow the solar sunspot cycle? Read more
Astro_p021
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
Science Fair Project Idea
Get good photographs of the Moon showing lots of craters and count how many craters you find in a range of diameter classes. One useful source is the (Kuiper et al, 2006). Make a histogram that shows the distribution of diameters. Most of these craters were formed during the first billion years of the Moon's formation, but you should confirm that this is true for the the Moon areas you've selected in your photographs by doing background research. Is cratering uniform across the surface of the… Read more
Astro_p029
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail Did you know that in addition to the Sun and planets, our solar system is filled with millions of asteroids, which are chunks of rock left over from the early days of its formation, or from collisions between larger objects like planets? Agencies like NASA track asteroids, not only because they might pose a threat to humanity by colliding with Earth, but because they can provide us with information about the history of our solar system, and even be useful for mining raw materials in space! In… Read more
Astro_p039
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Prerequisites In order to do this science project, you should either already have knowledge of basic statistical analysis (histograms and scatter plots) or have a willingness to familiarize yourself with them.
Material Availability This science project requires a computer with internet access and a spreadsheet program like Microsoft® Excel® or OpenOffice™ Calc.
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail Want to stretch your imagination? One good way is to try to imagine how far it is to a distant star. How much farther away is it than the moon is from the earth? How much farther away than the earth is from the sun? How long would it take to get there? In this project, you'll learn one way of measuring the distance without leaving Earth. Read more
Astro_p019
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Prerequisites You will need a telescope for this project. Experience with geometry is recommended for this project (you need to understand similar triangles).
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail Sunspot activity has been monitored continuously since about 1700. The historical data shows that sunspot activity rises and falls in a roughly 11-year cycle. This project shows you how you can use both graphical and statistical analysis to look for patterns in cyclical data. Read more
Astro_p017
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Prerequisites Computer with Internet access and a spreadsheet program (e.g., Excel, QuattroPro), previous experience with statistics helpful
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail This is a great project for someone that is interested in both stargazing and photography. Bright city lights and even the light of the full moon obscure the dimmest stars, which can make identifying constellations more difficult. This project shows you a way to measure the amount of background light (skyglow) in the night sky. It can be a great way for you to quickly compare the star viewing quality for different locations, or for the same location at different times of the year. Read more
Astro_p022
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Prerequisites You'll need a digital camera that take pictures in manual mode with exposure times of up to 15 seconds. You will need to know how to change the shutter speed, lens aperture, and ISO setting. A tripod for the camera is nice to have, but not absolutely essential. You will also need a computer.
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety Adult supervision required for night photography.
Science Fair Project Idea
Here's a cool project that shows you how to use images from an orbiting observatory to measure how fast the Sun rotates. Read more
Astro_p005
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail The sun sometimes releases huge bursts of electrified gases into space. These bursts are called coronal mass ejections (or CMEs). When CMEs are directed towards Earth they can generate auroras, the spectacular atmospheric displays also known as "northern lights" (photo by Chris VenHaus, 2001). In this project you'll use images from the SOHO satellite to measure how fast CMEs move. Read more
Astro_p020
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
Science Fair Project Idea
Some claim the Moon appears larger when near the horizon. Make a series of observations of the Moon, measuring the Moon's angular diameter each time. You should also note the Moon's altitude above the horizon, and the Moon's phase. You should do background research on the lunar orbit to determine the necessary time period. Do you find predictable variations in the Moon's diameter? Can you relate this to the Moon's changing distance from Earth? From your data, try to determine when apogee and… Read more
Astro_p030
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Time Required Very Long (1+ months)
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