Looking for ways to learn astronomy with your family or while at home? We have you covered!
Check out the variety of hands-on activities, citizen science projects, videos, and games & simulations listed here for some starting points.
If you are a K-12 teacher, you can find additional resources on our Virtual Teaching for K-12 Educators page.
Check out these sites for activities to do for little or no cost with materials you might find lying around your house!
Astronomy @ Home (grades K - 12): Weekly live storytime, lectures, and activities kids ages 3-15 from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.
McDonald Observatory from the University of Texas offers a wide variety of activities to explore astronomy. Here are a selection of our favorites to do at home:
- Shadow Play (grades K - 5): Everyone and everything has a shadow. Shadows illustrate how three dimensional objects can be viewed in two dimensions. Younger students can learn about the Sun’s relative motion in the sky as they experiment with shadows
- Observing The Moon (grades K - 5): Does the Moon always look the same? Does its surface look different at different times?
- Seeing the Invisible: Dust in the Universe (grades K - 2; 3 - 5; 6 - 8; 9 - 12): Dust is all around us: at home, on Earth, and in space. Explore the properties of dust and the astronomical research of dust in space with these three inquiry based activities from McDonald Observatory.
- Scale Models (grades 6 - 8): Use playdough to make two balls that represent different objects in the solar system. Can you guess which ones they represent? (Make your own playdough if you don’t already have some!)
- Color of Stars (grades 9 - 12): Observe colors in the flame of a burning candle to explore connections between matter, light, color, and temperature
- Stars and Galaxies (grades 9 - 12): Apply concepts of scale to grasp the distances between stars and galaxies. You will use this understanding to elaborate on the question, Do galaxies collide?
The NISE Network offers hands-on activities with material kits. Check out their website for more activities and get creative with ways you can adapt these activities based on what materials you have available to you.
- Exploring the Universe: Imagining Life (grades PreK - 12): Imagine and draw an extreme environment beyond Earth, then invent a living thing that could thrive in it. Learn about NASA scientists that study extremophiles on Earth to imagine the variety of life that might exist elsewhere, and make predictions about where to look for it.
Scholastic Learn At Home offers daily projects to keep kids reading, thinking, and growing. Activities are offered for PreK – 9th grade.
- Make Moon Craters (grades PreK - 1): What are the dents on the moon? How did they get there? In this activity, students will learn the fundamentals of crater formation by creating their own!
NASA STEM at Home offers a list of activities and resources compiled by NASA partners for families to keep exploring science, technology, engineering, and math while at home.
Mystery Science: How can the Sun help you if you are lost? Why do the stars change with the seasons? How much water is in the world? Why is the sky blue? What is a black hole? Mystery Science offers easy science lessons perfect for a remote learning environment.
Visit Science Buddies for many great STEM activities that can easily be done at home.
Citizen Science Projects
Want to contribute to the work of scientists directly? Follow some of these links to help out with different crowdsourcing science projects from your computer or phone!
Want to be featured in our Fiske Planetarium Explorations film series? Submit a video or photo of you or your family using the GLOBE Observer: Clouds App. In this episode, we will be highlighting the cloud images that you can take with your smartphone and how they help space satellites interpret and predict Earth’s climate. All ages are welcome to participate! Find out more...
Planet Hunters TESS (grades 7 - 12): Join the search for undiscovered worlds.
Galaxy Zoo (grades 7 - 12): Help classify different galaxies based on their shapes!
You can explore even more citizen science sites at CitizenScience.gov.
Want to watch engaging, educational videos about astronomy? Here are some sites we recommend.
To Space & Back (grades K - 12): International award winning planetarium show describing how the technology that transports us through space is paving the way for the devices and apps we use every day (available until mid June).
Science Never Stops (grades K - 12): STEAM videos exploring museum artifacts, hands-on science, live astronomy demonstrations and so much more!
NASA eClips (grades 3 - 12): Videos explaining science, engineering, and the natural world in ways that make you think!
SciShow Space (grades 9 - 12): The universe is awe-inspiring! From ground breaking discoveries in the news to the big questions about what makes life possible, SciShow Space brings you answers to your burning questions... and poses some even weirder questions along the way.
MinutePhysics (grades 9 - 12): Short videos on astronomy and physics with easy-to-understand illustrations. Learn about fundamental concepts such as gravity and light all the way up to higher level topics like relativity and quantum mechanics.
PBS Space Time (grades 11 - 12): Space Time explores the outer reaches of space, the craziness of astrophysics, the possibilities of sci-fi, and anything else you can think of beyond Planet Earth with astrophysicist host Matthew O’Dowd.
Games & Simulations
In the popular Kerbal Space Program (grades 8 - 12) space flight simulation video game, take charge of the space program for the alien race known as the Kerbals. You have access to an array of parts to assemble fully-functional spacecraft that flies (or doesn’t) based on realistic aerodynamic and orbital physics.
In the tabletop Mission to Space board game (grades PreK - 12), players will represent a team of scientists and engineers sending a spacecraft on a mission to space. They'll meet with the surprises, setbacks, and success that accompany every scientific mission. The player who collects enough data and completes their mission first is the "winner," but all players are encouraged to complete their mission and discuss their results. (Spanish version also available.)
NASA’s Eyes App (grades 1 - 12) allows you to experience Earth and our solar system, the universe and the spacecraft exploring them, with immersive apps for Mac, PC and mobile devices.
Download the Science on a Sphere free mobile app to explore different Earth and space datasets.
SciGames has a variety of free apps and games, such as Star Maze, Space Stage, and Planet Families.
Celebrating Earth Day
UCAR Center for Science Education offers a long list of hands-on activities, games, and videos about weather, climate, air quality, the Sun and space weather, and other Earth science topics.
Want some Earth Day activities for your youngest ones? TinkerLab lists 50 different ways to encourage toddlers to create objects from natural and recycled materials and spend more time outdoors.
Daylight in a Bottle hands-on activity: Celebrate Earth Day at home by harnessing the power of natural resources! This family guide explores how you can read a secret message from a friend or light up a room with just two things: free, clean energy from the Sun and a water bottle.
GLOBE Observer is an international network of citizen scientists and scientists working together to learn more about our shared environment and changing climate. To participate, just download the GLOBE Observer app and submit regular observations.