New Planets


So there are other plants and solar systems out there?  I knew I should have listened to the Simpson’s Treehouse of Horrot IX….Check out the Article on Yahoo News…European astronomers have found multiple planets (over 20) outside out solar system suggesting there may be many more places that could support life.  What does this do to our concept of ourselves if we are not alone in the universe?

Activity Ideas:

  1. Read the article as a group.  Do a simple: Who, what, where, when, why activity with the students.  Have them summarize the article in one sentence or underline the main idea of the short article.  Use it as an activity to gather information from a news source.
  2. Review basic terms and understanding of astronomical structures: What is a solar system? What is a galaxy?  What is a planet?
  3. For Unit Conversion, help students understand the sizes of planets and stars with comparisons to Earth.  Play with numbers…If Jupiter is 300 times as big as Earth and Earth has a diameter at the equator of 7926.28 miles – what would the diameter of Jupiter be? How would you calculate the volume of each?
  4. Journal or pair share: What do you think of the quote, “The universe must indeed be crowded with habitable worlds.”? What do you believe about the possibility of extraterrestrial life?
  5. Play the alien game – pick an activity, person, fad or phenomenon and have students write down a description of that thing as if they were emailing an alien from one of these planets outside our solar system to explain what that thing was and why it was important (or not): NFL football, soap operas, spring break, a cultural holiday, ipods, email, etc) – the key is to take nothing for granted – remember, they know nothing about us….
  6. If you met an alien, and they were friendly, what would you want to know more about from their planet, life, or culture?
  7. What questions about space exploration, planet formation, astronomy, etc. do you have that you would like to learn more about?

Astronomy Resources:

Cool Sci-Fi Titles: Leave reality and explore these great alternate universes, futures, and peoples:

  • Stranger in a Strange Land and Starship Troopers, Heinlein
  • Ender’s Game, Card
  • The Left Hand of Darkness, Le Guin
  • Foundation, Asimov
  • Brave New World, Huxley
  • 2001 and Childhood’s End, Clarke
  • Ringworld, Niven
  • Farenheit 451, Bradbury
  • The Man in the High Castle, Dick



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