For Educators

Welcome educators! Many of my readers use Sky Lights as a resource for teaching astronomy, meteorology, or earth science. Teachers from middle school through high school tell me it’s been a valuable supplement to their regular course content. Sky Lights is also used by home schoolers who need help with science and math.

Not surprisingly, even if you’re an expert in science and math, it can be difficult to get children interested. They’re generally good at visual learning, due in part to growing up with computers. So I strive to make the graphic, photo, or video in each post clearly illustrate the topic at hand. Visuals are a great supplement to any course of study.

This page suggests strategies teachers and home schoolers can adapt for effective integration of Sky Lights. It also explains a few things educators should know about Sky Lights:

  • Sky Lights is a supplement designed to stimulate curiosity, guide inquiry, and provide explanations for difficult concepts. It is not a substitute for a textbook, online or in print.
  • The average reading level for Sky Lights is grades 7-9, but precocious 5-6th graders find it understandable.  Content is tested for reading grade level here:
  • Topics focus on astronomy, meteorology, and earth & space science, with occasional forays into other areas. My choice of topics is largely driven by current events, astronomical cycles, and questions from readers.
  • Most content on this website is copyrighted. Some is in the public domain. Educators are excepted from some of the copyright limitations and are free to use and duplicate most of what’s here. For more details, see Legal.
  • You don’t need a telescope or other special equipment to benefit from Sky Lights. Binoculars can be useful, and most any type will work fine. The only “experiments” suggested relate to visual observations.
  • You’ll find lots of astronomical names in Sky Lights. Teachers need to use the correct pronunciations more than anyone — and I’ve heard some astronomers get these wrong. For your reference I have produced a document that covers most of the names you’re likely to encounter, including stars, planets, moons, surface features, and constellations. Download my Astronomical Pronunciation Guide here.  
  • My Links page contains additional resources you might find useful. I’ve reviewed them all for pedagogical value and classroom suitability. I try to avoid commercial sites with ad content. You can trust the links.

If you want to use Sky Lights as more than just a reading assignment, say, for written reports, I recommend citation exploration as a requirement. Most Sky Lights posts contain links to outside resources and/or earlier posts. Any post can stand on its own as an educational tool, but for greater depth these links will be useful. Most links access government or academic institutions, but now that Wikipedia has matured I’ve been using it more often. For a student research assignment, consider using this template.

Some educators reported using Sky Lights as source material for student-generated tests. Students are asked to write a specified number of multiple choice questions (with an answer key) based on post content. Tests are exchanged in class using any number of protocols, students complete each other’s tests, and grading is done by the students themselves.

I taught math and science for 30+ years so I know it’s not easy, but I’m here to help. Suggestions for topics are always appreciated. Simply Ask a Question. Again, welcome and best wishes in your educational endeavors.