Investigating Astronomy logo
Home  |  About IA  |  For Families  |  For Teachers

About Investigating Astronomy

Investigating Astronomy is the first comprehensive astronomy textbook written specifically for high school students. In writing this book, we have tried to include all the major topics in an astronomy course while also engaging students in hands-on investigations and using tools that will help your students learn in an interactive and meaningful way. The book also focuses on scientific inquiry, the process of making scientific claims and supporting them with evidence, and using scientific reasoning to justify and revise those claims.

The student guide has six units corresponding to the six major themes of astronomical content:

    Unit 1 — Investigating Motions of the Sky
    Unit 2 — Investigating the Sun-Earth-Moon System
    Unit 3 — Investigating Planets
    Unit 4 — Investigating Tools of Astronomy
    Unit 5 — Investigating Stars
    Unit 6 — Investigating the Universe

The first three units deal with observations humans have made from Earth, some for thousands of years, as well as the mechanics and characteristics of objects within our solar system. The second three units deal with the more advanced observations of electromagnetic radiation through telescopes and of objects that are outside our solar system and even outside our galaxy.

Within each unit there is a series of Explorations. Each Exploration is based upon an essential question that will be a guide to what students are learning. Each Exploration also offers an opportunity for First Thoughts, the time to make initial claims about the essential question and related ideas. At the end of the Exploration, those claims are revisited with the chance to confirm or revise them based on what was learned within the Exploration. This structure is meant to model best practices in scientific inquiry. All Explorations within a unit prepare students for the unit Challenge, a project that makes use of all information presented in the unit. Although the Challenges are introduced in the beginning of the unit and referred to throughout the Explorations, they are intended as final projects for each unit.

Many activities within the Explorations call for the use of accompanying technology components. These include the IA Data Center, a Web-based tool that enables realistic image processing and analysis for investigations, and Starry Night, a sky-viewing software program that allows the display and measurement of sky motions and changes over time. These tools are an integral part of the Investigating Astronomy program—they provide learning opportunities unavailable in most textbooks. There is also an online game for Investigating Astronomy called IA Triplet, which provides a fun way to get to know the structure of the universe and see many of the types of tools, objects, and concepts that are included in the book.

We hope this book and the associated materials will help your students learn about our universe and the objects within it, as well as give them a sense of how scientists think and investigate phenomena. A book like this, especially in a field as dynamic as astronomy, has one drawback—some of its contents may soon be out of date. We hope that this course entices you and your students to keep watching for new discoveries and news stories.

Jodi Asbell-Clarke
Jeff Lockwood
Project Directors