Astronomy Discussion Questions


The Sun, the Earth, and Our Solar System

1.    How does the sun give us light and energy?

2.    Does the sun move around the Earth or does the Earth move around the sun?

3.    What are two ways our Earth moves?

4.    How does the rotation of the Earth relate to day and night?

5.    How does the Earth’s tilt produce seasons?


The Moon

1.    How can we see the moon at night?  Does the moon give off its own light?

2.    Why does the moon seem to change in size and shape as a month goes by?

3.    Why does the moon look like it has a halo around it?

4.    Why is it unsafe to look at a solar eclipse?

5.    Why does part of the moon have a shadow on it?


The Planets Closest to the Sun: Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars

1.    How did people look at the planets long ago compared to today?

2.    How did the planets get their name?

3.    Compare the other planets to Earth.

4.    What could the discovery of ice on Mars means?

5.    Why does Mars look red when you see it in the night sky?


The Outer Planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune

1.    How do the four outer planets differ from the planets closest to the Sun?

2.    Why are the outer planets called gas giants?

3.    Of what are the rings of Saturn made?

4.    Why is Pluto no longer considered a planet?


Asteroids, Comets, and Meteors

1.    What is an asteroid belt made of?

2.    Looking at page 43, what is the bright spot in the sky?

3.    What are comets made of and why do they seem to have tails?

4.    How often can we see Halley’s comet?

5.    What is a meteor and how can it create a crater?
Galaxies and Stars

1.    What is the difference between galaxies and stars?

2.    Our sun is a star. So why do the stars in the night sky look different from the sun?

3.    What have astronomers discovered about how stars differ from each other?

4.    What is the Milky Way Galaxy?

5.    What is the Andromeda Galaxy?



1.    How are constellations discovered?

2.    Who was Ptolemy?

3.    What is Ursa Minor and why is it named that?

4.    What is Polaris?

5.    What constellation will help me find Polaris in the night sky?


Exploring Space

1.    What tool did Galileo use to observe the night sky that we still use today, and how does his tool compare to the ones we use now?

2.    Why are telescopes housed in observatories?

3.    What is the Hubble Space Telescope and why does it orbit Earth?

4.    Why were apes launched into space?

5.    What did the first manned flights do when they were launched into space?

6.    Why is Earth’s gravity a challenge for rocket ships like Apollo 11?

7.    What can we learn from space exploration?


A Walk on the Moon

1.    What were the astronauts’ job on Apollo 11?

2.    What did two of them have to do to get their landing craft on the moon?

3.    Why did people who were watching on TV go wild when Armstrong said, “The Eagle has landed!”?

4.    Why do astronauts have to wear space suits?

5.    What did Armstrong and Aldrin do on the moon?


What is it Like in Space?

1.    What is the biggest difference between Earth and space?

2.    When astronauts jump on the moon, why do they float down slowly?

3.    What is different about eating in space compared to eating on Earth?

4.    What are other differences between Earth and space?


The Space Shuttle

1.    What is the difference between Apollo 11 and the space shuttle designed in 1981?

2.    How do booster rockets help a space ship?

3.    Why did astronauts bring research equipment and tools into space on their missions?

4.    What major event took place in July 2011?


The International Space Station

1.    What is the international space station and for what is it used?

2.    Why do astronauts in the space station have to run at least once a day?

3.    How do the astronauts sleep in the space station?  Why?

4.    Why is taking a shower in space tricky?

5.    What difficulties do astronauts face when they return to Earth?  Why?


Dr. Mae Jemison

1.    What did Jemison study in college?

2.    What did Jemison do after she graduated from Stanford?

3.    Why did she want to go to Africa?

4.    What was hard for Jemison as she was training to become an astronaut?

5.    What did Jemison study on her mission into space?

6.    What other accomplishments did Jemison have after retiring from NASA?


Nicolaus Copernicus

1.    Why did people long ago think the sun moved around the Earth?

2.    From where did Copernicus view space?

3.    What did Copernicus discover during his observations of space?

4.    Why did many people not believe Copernicus’s new findings?


The Big Bang

1.    What does the Big Bang Theory try to explain?

2.    Who proposed the Big Bang Theory?

3.    According to the Big Bang Theory, how did everything in space start?

4.    How long ago did the Big Bang happen?

5.    After the matter from the Big Bang cooled off what caused the matter to pull together into spheres?

*This is a great opportunity to discuss theories and different beliefs that people share, as well as your own beliefs.  We will discuss several of the different theories in class.