GCSE Resources

Observational Resources

A pdf guide to planning an astronomical observation: Some notes on Observation Guidelines that cover the theory behind how to plan an astronomical observation.

A worksheet to introduce the students to Practice Using Stellarium. Computer room with latest version of Stellarium installed required.

A (somewhat challenging) Stellarium Stellar Transits Worksheet to help students visualise stellar trajectories and understand rising and setting times, as well as the concepts like LST and how can it be used to predict the rising/setting times of stars. Familiarity with Stellarium and the main concepts of the Celestial Sphere is required.

Lessons  – Edexcel 2019 specification

This section will be regularly updated with resources as more material is made over time.

Please note that different schools allocate different amounts of periods/week for teaching GCSE Astronomy. You may find that some of these lessons do not quite fit in your allocated time-slots. Feel free to snip, assign flipped learning tasks, or simply go over a lesson resource over two separate lessons.

Topic 1. Planet Earth resources (1x .ppt with two lessons, 4x .doc handouts). The lessons cover the shape of the Earth, its internal geological divisions, longitude and latitude, divisions of the Earth’s surface (Tropics, Meridian, Equator etc) and the effects of the Earth’s atmosphere on astronomical observations (sky colour, skyglow, twinkling and seeing).  [last update: 26/2/18]

Topic 2. The Moon resources (1x .ppt lesson, 5x .doc handouts). The lesson covers the shape of the Moon, the principal naked-eye lunar surface formations (Maria, craters, terrae etc), the structure and origin of said lunar formations, the lunar periods for its rotation and revolution around the Earth, the synchronous nature of the lunar orbit, lunar libration (causes and effects) as well as a short debate on the most prominent theories regarding the formation of the Moon.  [last update: 26/2/18]

Topic 5. Solar System Observation resources (1x .ppt lesson, 2x .doc worksheets). The lesson covers the pinhole solar projector, the Ecliptic, the Zodiacal Band, the prograde and retrograde planetary motion, the First points of Aries and Libra, and planetary concepts such as opposition, conjunction (superior&inferior), elongation, transits and occultation. Note that meteor showers and the concept of the radian that are mentioned on this topic as part of the spec, have been included in the lessons on topic 6. [last update: 27/2/18]

Topic 7. Early Solar System Models resources (1x .ppt lesson, 1x .doc handouts). The lesson covers the use of solar and lunar cycles for agricultural, religious, time and calendars and alignments of ancient monuments, how that alignment changes due to the precession of the Earth’s axis, Early models of the Solar System and the Ptolemaic model. [last update: 8/3/18]

Topic 8. Planetary Motion resources (1x .ppt lesson, 1x .doc handouts). The lesson covers the story of Copernicus, Kepler and Brahe, which led to the formulation of Kepler’s three laws of planetary motion, the role of Gravity, Kepler’s laws, the law of universal attraction. [last update: 8/3/18]

Topic 9. Exploring the Moon.pptx resources (1x .ppt lesson). The lesson covers the Moon’s internal divisions, energy considerations for reaching the Moon, and the Giant Impact Hypothesis, and alternative theories such as the Co-accretion theory and the Capture theory. The idea is to have the students gather information for those theories, present them and then have re-enactment of the 1984 convention where astronomers decided on the most prominent theory. Please note that parts 9.2 and 9.3 of the specification have been covered on the material from topic 2. [last update: 8/3/18]

Topic 12. Formation of Solar Systems resources (2x .ppt lessons). The lessons cover gravitational attraction and the various effects of tidal forces (ring systems, asteroid belts, internal heating), resonances and Lagrangian Points. Interaction between gravitational and elastic forces (Roche Limit), the spherical or irregular shape of bodies, thermal and gravitational factors that determine the presence of an atmosphere. The main theories for the formation of gas planets. Methods for discovering systems of exoplanets (transit method, astrometry and radial velocity). Discussion for the requirements of life on Titan, Europa, Enceladus and outside the Solar System. The Goldilocks zone and the Drake equation, as well as the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence and its benefits and dangers. [last update 7/11/18]