Astronomy Projects

Discovering telescopes and deep sky objects - Introduction to Faulkes Telescopes
Understanding the universe through colour - Astronomical imaging with
Uncovering the nature and lives of stars - Star Cluster Photometry with

One of the key features of the research-based science education Space to Grow project is that your students can have access to the Faulkes professional astronomical telescopes, and to real data to help them explore concepts and methods in the same manner as a professional astronomer.  The projects are scaleable from relatively short explorations in a classroom setting to multiple term individual research projects.  After the introduction to broad concepts and methods in astronomy (which covers large elements of the Stage 5 and 6 curriculum), it is possible for students to potentially contribute to, or lead, some new research of their own.  This research would be on unstudied or previously little-studied objects, and therefore could be published in the scientific literature as new discoveries or updated studies.


The initial project to undertake is Discovering telescopes and deep sky objects - Introduction to the Faulkes Telescopes, which introduces the idea of the telescopes and motivates the students to learn more, while completing the initial surveys

The natural follow-up is Understanding the Universe throuch Colour - Astronomical imaging with, where students explore the astronomical images and create a motivational 'pretty picture' in exactly the same way as a professional astronomer does.  This also provides experience with the software to be used at a deeper level in other projects.

After the introductory projects, students can then move onto a 'core' project.  Uncovering the nature and lives of stars - Star Cluster Photometry with (SCP) can be run as a very short version of 3 periods up to as many as 12 or more periods.  This currently forms the core of the Space to Grow project, covering the Stage 5 and Stage 6 'Cosmic Engine' and 'Astrophysics Option' components of lifecycle of stars.  The higher the grade of the students the longer this project can run, to provide deeper learning.  It can also form the backbone of an 'independent research project' at any stage.  It also covers multiple other curriculum items listed in the project itself.

schoolboys At the end of a core project, there is an 'exit' class where students undertake the post surveys.  This provides us with an overview of how well the project worked and the information we need to return an assessment of the students back to the teacher.

We are currently developing further 'core' projects, the first of which will be on Planetary Nebulae.  For those students who are particularly keen to study another aspect of astronomy now covered by these materials such as galaxies or variable stars, we can also potentially support a variety of independent research topics using the Faulkes Telescopes - just let us know!

Due to their large overall size (nearly 1 GB), the materials for each of these projects are best mailed to you on USB.  Our partner schools can receive these free of charge for the duration of the project funding. Alternatively, we can provide a link for you to download the materials if you have sufficient bandwidth. For either method, please contact us and provide an address for us to send out the materials or link as necessary.

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Discovering telescopes and deep sky objects - Introduction to the Faulkes Telescopes and


Students will gain a broad conceptual understanding about how telescopes work with particular attention to the Faulkes Telescopes. It also provides a general introduction to the Space to Grow project and contains links to the pre-surveys that need to be completed at this stage.

This project should begin to engage students in the possibility of doing real science with these large telescopes and motivate them to interact with the projects that follow.

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Understanding the universe through colour - Astronomical imaging with



Students are introduced to both astronomical images and the analysis tools used to process them through the creation of a colour image. They have a choice of multiple objects to image, including the chance to collect their own colour images.

Image 1: How a colour image is constructed from 4 broad-band filters, which result in a colour composite when overlaid

Image 2: How an image is constructed from 7 broad-band Filters from ultraviolet (left) to infrared (right) Images credit HST

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Uncovering the nature and lives of stars - Star Cluster Photometry with


This project is currently the ‘core’ project of the Space to Grow materials. It deals with many of the concepts covered in Hertzsprung Russell Diagrams (or H-R Diagrams) through the use of Colour Magnitude Diagrams of clusters. It is designed to have multiple exit points to assist teachers/ facilitators in catering for both different year levels and for the range of student abilities within a class from a minimum of 3 periods to 12 or more.

Previous results from students/teachers can be seen on the this page.  The introductiory video on open clusters, with Fred Watson, provides an overview of what they are and describes the sort of information we can obtain from researching them can be accessed from here.

Images: Michael Fitzgerald, Colour Magnitude Diagram of NGC654 created by students.

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