How Far Are the Stars?by: Edward Murphy and Randy L. Bell
edited by: The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA)

Journal ArticleDigital resources are stored online in your NSTA Library.

On any night, the stars seen in the sky can be as close to Earth as a few light-years or as distant as a few thousand light-years. Distances this large are hard to comprehend. In this article, we explore how astronomers measure the distances to stars and learn about the roles of observation and inference in the development of scientific knowledge, a critical aspect of the nature of science. The goal of this article is to help teachers and students develop understandings about the size of the universe and how science can tell us so much about things we cannot observe directly.

Grades
  • High
Publication Date
2/1/2005

Community ActivitySaved in 305 Libraries

Reviews (4)
  • on Wed Aug 31, 2011 10:10 PM

This article did an outstanding job explaining how astronomers measure the distances of stars from the Earth. It cleared up several questions that I had about parallax. Great for educators needing to improve their understanding of astronomy.

Ruth Hutson  (Westmoreland, KS)
Ruth Hutson (Westmoreland, KS)

  • on Thu Jul 14, 2011 8:42 PM

The authors lead us to an understanding about the size of the universe and how science can tell us about things we cannot observe directly. Light year and parsecs are defined and are used in the article to explain how they are used when measuring shifts in the positions of stars. Within the article is a wonderful sidebar on helping students understand parallax.

Sandra Gady  (Renton, WA)
Sandra Gady (Renton, WA)

  • on Mon Jan 31, 2011 12:16 AM

I enjoyed this article. Great for astronomy classes.

Dat Le  (Springfield, VA)
Dat Le (Springfield, VA)

  • on Mon Nov 08, 2010 3:10 PM

The article, "How Far are the Stars?" details how astronomers measure the distance of stars. The goal of this article is to help teachers and students develop an understanding about the size of the universe and how science can tell us about things that we cannot directly observe. In this article, the authors explain the highly technical process of parallax, or how to measure the distance of stars from the Earth. The text includes easily understood terms and various graphics and charts to help explain the parallax process. Additionally, the authors include additional information on how to help students understand parallax. Overall, this is an excellent article that helps prepare teachers to instruct students about parallax. The article is easy to read and provides relative examples to increase the reader's understanding how astronomers measure the distance of stars.

Maureen Stover  (Seaside, CA)
Maureen Stover (Seaside, CA)


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