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✏️ Homeschool Astronomy: How Do We Know?

✏️ Homeschool Astronomy: How Do We Know?

An online astronomy course for young learners, 11-14 years old, to explore our universe.

Begins October 7

Stimulate your child's curious, bright mind with our online astronomy course, led by Strasenburgh Planetarium Director, Steve Fentress. Students will discover the workings of the universe by exploring the foundations of astronomy and the many phenomena occurring outside Earth’s atmosphere.

In this course, we welcome homeschool students looking for challenge and substance. We will take a scientific approach, based on data plus logic, exploring reliable sources on astronomy’s biggest questions: What is Earth’s shape? How does Earth move? How large is our solar system? What are the stars? What planets do other stars have? Are black holes real? What is the structure and history of our universe? Is there life elsewhere? Students who complete this course will be equipped to explore these questions further on their own.



Course Details

Who is this Course for: 

  • Homeschool students around 11 to 14 years old


What You'll Learn

  • The evidence supporting our most basic ideas of the structure of the physical universe and our place in it

  • How to do your own research on topics such as the Big Bang and extraterrestrial life

  • How to critically read and interpret science news reports


What you'll need

  • Ability to participate digitally using Zoom
  • An up-to-date web browser that can show interactive sites such as and
  • Permission to download recommended desktop software such as NASA's Eyes and Stellarium, or mobile apps such as Sky Safari. We will recommend only software and apps we have found to be safe and useful.


Course Format

Each session will be divided into three 30 minute segments

  • First half-hour: Everyone meets via Zoom for introductions and demonstrations by your instructor, leading to a short project to do right now
  • Second half-hour: Everyone signs off to work on the short assignment
  • Third half-hour: We reconvene to review the short assignment and introduce a more substantial project for the coming week


Anticipated Course Curriculum

Every session will include a review of stars, constellations, and planets visible in the current night sky, as well as a group discussion of current events in astronomy and space flight.

Session 1: Is Earth flat?

Session 2: Black Holes, part 1

Session 3: Alien (?) Life, part 1

Session 4: What tells us Earth is moving?

Session 5: Discovering planets and exoplanets

Session 6: Hubble pictures and extreme stars

Session 7: Black Holes, part 2

Session 8: What tells us there was a Big Bang?

Session 9: Alien (?) life, part 2

Session 10: Review: What did you learn and what can you do next?


Still have questions? Reach out to us!


Course Fee: $125 for 10 sessions 

Class Time: 10 Wednesdays from 9:30am to 11:00am (October 7 through December 16, 2020 - excluding November 25)
We ask that all students arrive promptly at 9:30pm

Class Start Date: October 7, 2020

What's included: 

  • Ten 90-minute classes with Planetarium Director, Steve Fentress
  • Access to the course webpage, which will include short demonstration videos, assignment recaps, and helpful links
  • Weekly astronomy projects


Students are still able to sign up until October 21 for a prorated registration if they sign up after the start date.  

Online Planetarium Course FAQs | Fall 2020

Frequently Asked Questions

My child is younger than 11, but really, really interested in astronomy. Can they take the course?

If you believe your child is ready for the material and has the attention span for a 90-minute session with a break in the middle, they are welcome to enroll.


Can two kids using the same computer at the same time enroll as one person?

If they are working together on everything and doing all the work as a team, they can enroll as one person.


Can my child "audit" the course if it is full?

We are limiting enrollment to 22 students because want to have only as many people on our Zoom session as we think we can pay attention to. To ensure the best experience to all students, we can only accept 22 students to the course.


Will you have a course about different topics or for students of different grade levels? You don't have one now.

Not at this time, but if there is enough interest we might add new classes. If you email our course instructor, Steve Fentress, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., he will add your name to a list of people to contact if we get enough interest to offer a new class.

Steve your instructor.jpg

About Your Instructor

Steve Fentress, Director of the RMSC Strasenburgh Planetarium

Steve Fentress has many years of experience designing Planetarium programs for school groups as well as hands-on and in-depth programs for homeschoolers and youth groups. He has written articles for and Griffith Observer magazine. He stays up to date by participating in planetarium educators’ networks and online seminars. His book Sky to Space: Astronomy Beyond the Basics with Comparisons, Ratios, and Proportions is available from Amazon, but we will not be using it in this course.

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