BSA Supply No. 610461
In learning about astronomy, Scouts study how activities in space affect our own planet and bear witness to the wonders of the night sky: the nebulae, or giant clouds of gas and dust where new stars are born; old stars dying and exploding; meteor showers and shooting stars; the moon, planets, and a dazzling array of stars.
- Do the following:
- Explain to your counselor the most likely hazards you may encounter while participating in astronomy activities, and what you should do to anticipate, help prevent, mitigate, and respond to these hazards.
- Explain first aid for injuries or illnesses such as heat and cold reactions, dehydration, bites and stings, and damage to your eyes that could occur during observation.
- Describe the proper clothing and other precautions for safely making observations at night and in cold weather. Then explain how to safely observe the Sun, objects near the Sun, and the Moon.
- Explain what light pollution is and how it and air pollution affect astronomy.
- With the aid of diagrams (or real telescopes if available), do each of the following:
- Explain why binoculars and telescopes are important astronomical tools. Demonstrate or explain how these
tools are used.
- Describe the similarities and differences of several types
of astronomical telescopes, including at least one that
observes light beyond the visible part of the spectrum
(i.e., radio, X-ray, ultraviolet, or infrared).
- Explain the purposes of at least three instruments used
with astronomical telescopes.
- Describe the proper care and storage of telescopes and
binoculars both at home and in the field.
- Do the following*:
- Identify in the sky at least 10 constellations, at least four
of which are in the zodiac.
- Identify at least eight conspicuous stars, five of which
are of magnitude 1 or brighter.
- Make two sketches of the Big Dipper. In one sketch,
show the Big Dipper’s orientation in the early evening
sky. In another sketch, show its position several hours
later. In both sketches, show the North Star and the
horizon. Record the date and time each sketch was made.
- Explain what we see when we look at the Milky Way.
*If instruction is done in a planetarium, Scouts must still identify the required stars and constellations outside under the natural night sky.
- Do the following:
- List the names of the five most visible planets. Explain
which ones can appear in phases similar to lunar phases
and which ones cannot, and explain why.
- Using the Internet (with your parent’s permission),
books, and other resources, find out when each of
the five most visible planets that you identified in
requirement 5a will be observable in the evening sky
during the next 12 months. Then compile this information
in the form of a chart or table.
- Describe the motion of the planets across the sky.
- Observe a planet and describe what you saw.
- Do the following:
- Sketch the face of the Moon and indicate at least five
seas and five craters. Label these landmarks.
- Sketch the phase and the daily position of the Moon, at
the same hour and place, for four days in a row. Include
landmarks on the horizon such as hills, trees, and
buildings. Explain the changes you observe.
- List the factors that keep the Moon in orbit around Earth.
- With the aid of diagrams, explain the relative positions
of the Sun, Earth, and the Moon at the times of lunar
and solar eclipses, and at the times of new, first-quarter,
full, and last-quarter phases of the Moon.
- Do the following:
- Describe the composition of the Sun, its relationship to
other stars, and some effects of its radiation on Earth’s
weather and communications.
- Define sunspots and describe some of the effects they
may have on solar radiation.
- Identify at least one red star, one blue star, and one
yellow star (other than the Sun). Explain the meaning
of these colors.
- With your counselor's approval and guidance, do ONE of the following:
- Visit a planetarium or astronomical observatory.
Submit a written report, a scrapbook, or a video
presentation afterward to your counselor that
includes the following information:
- Activities occurring there
- Exhibits and displays you saw
- Telescopes and other instruments being used
- Celestial objects you observed
- Plan and participate in a three-hour observation session
that includes using binoculars or a telescope. List the
celestial objects you want to observe, and find each
on a star chart or in a guidebook. Prepare an observing
log or notebook. Show your plan, charts, and log or
notebook to your counselor before making your
observations. Review your log or notebook with your
- Plan and host a star party for your Scout troop or other
group such as your class at school. Use binoculars
or a telescope to show and explain celestial objects
to the group.
- Help an astronomy club in your community hold a star
party that is open to the public.
- Personally take a series of photographs or digital images
of the movement of the Moon, a planet, an asteroid,
meteor, or a comet. In your visual display, label each
image and include the date and time it was taken.
Show all positions on a star chart or map. Show your
display at school or at a troop meeting. Explain the
changes you observed.
- Find out about three career opportunities in astronomy. Pick
one and find out the education, training, and experience
required for this profession. Discuss this with your counselor,
and explain why this profession might interest you.
Deck of Stars; Night Sky pocket guide; Chemistry, Computers, Geology, Nuclear Science, Photography, Radio, Space Exploration, and Weather merit badge pamphlets
Visit the Boy Scouts of America’s
official retail website at http://www.scoutstuff.org for a complete
listing of all merit badge pamphlets
and other helpful Scouting materials
- Brunier, Serge, and Akira Fujii.
The Great Atlas of the Stars.
Firefly Books, 2001.
- Consolmagno, Guy, and Dan M. Davis.
Turn Left at Orion: Hundreds of
Night Sky Objects to See in a Home
Telescope—and How to Find Them.
Cambridge University Press, 2011.
- Covington, Michael A. Digital SLR
University Press, 2007.
- Davis, Kenneth C. Don’t Know Much
About Space. HarperTrophy, 2001.
- ------. Don’t Know Much About the
Solar System. HarperCollins, 2001.
- Dickinson, Terence. The Backyard
Astronomer’s Guide, 3rd ed. Firefly
- ------. NightWatch: A Practical Guide
to Viewing the Universe. Firefly
- Hall, Allan. Getting Started: Long
CreateSpace Independent Publishing
- Harrington, Philip, and Edward
Pascuzzi. Astronomy for
All Ages. Globe Pequot Press, 2000.
- Lambert, David. The Kingfisher Young
People’s Book of the Universe. Kingfisher Books, 2001.
- Moche, Dinah L. Astronomy: A Self-Teaching Guide. Wiley, 2009.
- Price, Fred W. The Planet Observer’s
Handbook. Cambridge University
- Schaaf, Fred. 40 Nights to Knowing the
Sky: A Night-by-Night Skywatching
Primer. Owl Books, 1998.
- Trefil, James. Other Worlds: Images of
the Cosmos from Earth and Space.
National Geographic, 1999.
CDs, DVDs, and Videos
- A Beginner’s Guide to DSLR
Astrophotography. Astropix LLC,
- Amazing Universe III. Hopkins
Technology, 1995; CD-ROM.
- IMAX Cosmic Voyage. Warner Home
Video, 1996; DVD.
- NOVA: Secrets of the Sun. PBS Home
Video, 2012; DVD and Blu-ray.
- Wonders of the Solar System. BBC
Home Entertainment, 2010; DVD
Kalmbach Publishing Co.
21027 Crossroads Circle
P.O. Box 1612
Waukesha, WI 53187-1612
Toll-free telephone: 800-533-6644
Sky & Telescope
90 Sherman St.
Cambridge, MA 02140
Toll-free telephone: 866-644-1377
Organizations and Websites
The Astronomical League
9201 Ward Parkway, Suite 100
Kansas City, MO 64114
International Dark-Sky Association
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Washington, DC 20546
National Optical Astronomy Observatory
950 North Cherry Ave.
Tucson, AZ 85719
National Radio Astronomy Observatory
520 Edgemont Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903-2475
The Planetary Society
85 South Grand Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91105
Solar System Exploration: Planets
Space Telescope Science Institute
3700 San Martin Drive
Baltimore, MD 21218