Lesson 1 (Introduction and Stellarium Investigation)

Introduction and Stellarium Investigation (The Solar system)
In this first lesson of three students will be introduced to the Solar system and its characteristics. The lesson will be broken up into two distinctive activities. Part one is the video introduction and part two will be the Stellarium investigation activity. Students will be introduced to the Solar system through a 5 min video and then reflect on their learning by answering their first section of questions on their worksheet. Students will be encouraged to share their answers, opinions and questions with the class.In the Stellarium investigation activity students will be astronomers using the software Stellarium. Before students start their investigation, their teacher will introduce them to the Stellarium program and give them a short lesson on the Solar system. After this students will be formed into groups of 2-3 students and locate and identify their assigned planets. Through these observations students will develop a better understanding of the Solar system and planets. By answering scientifically oriented questions on their worksheet about the solar system and their planets. Students will be required to use their learning from this activity to assist them in the next lesson.

Learning Objectives: Students will learn:

The Earth is part of a system of planets orbiting around a star (the sun)

  • An understanding that Earth is part of a system of planets in the solar system.
  • Identifying the planets of the Solar system, their characteristics and order.
  • A basic understanding of the relative size of and distance between Earth, other planets in the solar system and the sun.
  • Recognising the role of the sun as a provider of energy for the Earth.
  • An Understanding of changes occurring in the sky and positions of stars and planets over time.
Year Level: 5 Length: 30-45 mins
Prior Learning:
Students have a basic understanding of space. They understand that their are observable changes in the night sky and that the Earth and other planets rotate on there axis that causes regular changes, including night and day. Also they know the effect of the force of gravity on objects.

Students have developed basic questioning and describing skills of changes in, objects and events. They also know how to make basic predictions and conduct guided investigates.

Students have previous experience using computers and ICT. They are able to identify the main components of an ICT system, their fundamental functions and use mouse, keyboard, monitor, printer, and some software programs, such as word processing, drawing and paint software).

Teacher learn Stellarium program (30 mins)Install Stellarium programs in school’s computers
Printout worksheets
Ready video
Required materials:
Computer Stellarium program (free to download)Writing materialTV or projector (for video)

Data storage device or internet connection for transmission of video.
 (DiscoveryTV. YouTube video. (2009)

Connecting to the Standards:

This lesson plan relates to the following Australian Curriculum Standards.

Content Standards

Standards Year 5:

Science Understanding

– Earth and space sciences

The Earth is part of a system of planets orbiting around a star (the sun).

  • Identifying the planets of the solar system and comparing how long they take to orbit the sun
  • Modelling the relative size of and distance between Earth, other planets in the solar system and the sun
  • Recognising the role of the sun as a provider of energy for the Earth

Science as a Human Endeavour

– Nature and development of science

Science involves testing predictions by gathering data and using evidence to develop explanations of events and phenomena.

  • Researching how scientists were able to develop ideas about the solar system through the gathering of evidence through space exploration

Important contributions to the advancement of science have been made by people from a range of cultures

  • Describing how scientists from a range of cultures have improved our understanding of the solar system, such as Copernicus, Khayyám and Galileo (& Pluto)

Science Inquiry Skills

– Questioning and predicting

With guidance, pose questions to clarify practical problems or inform a scientific investigation, and predict what the findings of an investigation might be.

  • Exploring the range of questions that can be asked about a problem or phenomena and with guidance, identifying those questions that could be investigated
  • Applying experience from similar situations in the past to predict what might happen in a new situation

– Planning and conducting

With guidance, plan appropriate investigation methods to answer questions or solve problems.

  • Experiencing a range of ways of investigating questions, including experimental testing, internet research, field observations and exploring simulations

– Processing and analysing data and information

Compare data with predictions and use as evidence in developing explanations

  • Sharing ideas as to whether observations match predictions, and discussing possible reasons for predictions being incorrect

– Communicating

Communicate ideas, explanations and processes in a variety of ways, including multi-modal texts.

  • Discussing how models represent scientific ideas and constructing physical models to demonstrate an aspect of scientific understanding
  • Constructing multi-modal texts to communicate science ideas
  • Using labelled diagrams, including cross-sectional representations, to communicate ideas

Links to the other Learning areas


  • When considering phenomena and systems at a vast range of scales in science, students use their mathematical knowledge of timescales and intervals. They use scientific notation in the representation of these values as required.

-Information and Communication Technology (ICT) capability

  • Students develop ICT capability as they learn to use ICT effectively and appropriately to access, solve problems and work collaboratively.
  • Students learn to make the most of the technologies available to them, adapting to new ways of doing things as technologies evolve and limiting the risks to themselves and others in a digital environment.
(Australian Curriculum. (2012)

Lesson activity

Video introduction

Introduction to the lesson activity

  • Students will be told they will begin an activity (a number of lessons) on learning about the Solar system.
  • They will be further instructed on today’s lesson and their learning objectives

Watch video

  • The teacher will hand out individual worksheets for the lesson
  • The teacher will instruct the purpose and meaning of the worksheets for the lesson. Including students will be required post-video to answer questions on their worksheet and pose questions related to the video and the Solar system.
  • Begin showing the video to students (5 mins).


  • When video is finish students will begin to answer their worksheet questions. After a period of time, when the students have finished answering their questions. The teacher will encourage students to share to the class their answer to the questions and possible including an explanation.
  • Students will also be encouraged to ask questions to the class (not just in the worksheet) and have other students answer them. If student can’t answer the teacher will.

    Form groups (2-3 students)

  • Begin preparing students for the next part of the lesson (Stellarium investigation) by instructing students on their next section of the lesson.
  • Begin forming students into groups of 2-3 students.

Stellarium investigation

 Recognising planets in the sky

  • Have students go into the tool bar in the bottom left hand corner and click on the 3rd icon > Sky and viewing options window and deselect (turn off) > Show atmosphere. Also have students turn off > show ground in the Landscape tab.
  • Before having students looking for planets ask them to know which direction / location are we observing the sky. Expand into explaining the differences of locations effects on the view of the nights sky. Such as if you’re observing the sky of the northern hemisphere, the different locations of the stars in the sky. When show them ‘Crux’, commonly known as the Southern Cross stars constellation. Explain and have students use Stellarium to show that the Southern Cross is easily to observe from the southern hemisphere but not in the Northern hemisphere (Ince, M., & Collin, P. H. 2002, p 53).
  • Next elaborate further on the difference between the stars and the planets. Explain that stars create light while planets reflect light. Show students how this may look in the night sky. Have students predict if a planet or a star would be brighter. Then explain even though most students think planets reflecting light, would make them darker than [most] stars. That this is not true as most stars are greater distance away from the Earth than planets are, and show them that planets are often brighter in the sky (Pasachoff, J. M. 2000, p 144)
  • Have students’ groups predict and point, to their chosen planet/s in the sky. Then have students explain how they come to their prediction. After students/groups explained their predictions have students turn on Stellarium’s “show planets label’ feature on.

Observe group’s focus planets, and how these planets compare to Earth.

  • In this activity students will just only research their focus planet (group). Students will make observations, correct data that Stellarium displays of the planet and make predictions on the conditions of that planets. Students will also need to make comparisons of their focus planet to Earth.  Students can use the programs search engine to find their planet.
  • Also show students how to zoom in on their planets so they can see the planet’s surface.
  • Have students follow their focus planets part of the work sheet.

 Finish and prepare for next lesson

  • Once students have finish correcting their research and filled out their worksheet. Begin preparing students for the next lesson where they will be further researching their planet using the Internet.

Work Sheet

Lesson 1 Work Sheets



Australian Curriculum. (2012).  Science: Foundation to Year 10 curriculum. retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/Science/Curriculum/F-10

DiscoveryTV. YouTube video. (2009). The Solar System – Space School retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_RAEESmsrs&feature=youtube_gdata

Ince, M., & Collin, P. H. (2002). Dictionary of astronomy. London: A & C Black.

Pasachoff, J. M. (2000). Peterson field guide to stars and planets Houghton Mifflin Company Trade & Reference Division.


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