Apologia- Astronomy Homeschooling

Astronomy Unit Study: Unit Two – The Sun

Over the past month we have been immersing ourselves in all things sunny with the girls’ astronomy unit study (Sun).  We have been using Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Astronomy.  I also have access to Everyday Astronomy from School House Teachers, as well as lots of bits and pieces I used with my older ones that I have collected over the years.

astronomy unit study (sun)

We learnt that the sun is actually a star, and is humongous (think peppercorn earth compared to a basketball sized sun).  Briefly, we talked about the circumference being the measurement around the sun.  The girls learnt about how strong the sun’s rays were, and that they should never look directly at the sun as it could harm their eyes.  They made up some lovely notebook pages and some mini books, consolidating their knowledge:

Astronomy Unit Study (Sun): An Activity to Observe the Sun without Staring at it

The older children and I had built a box with card, foil and a pinprick hole to view the sun through when they did astronomy years ago.  I kept it for just such a time as this.

Astronomy Unit Study (Sun): An Activity to Show the Strength of the Sun’s Rays

Using a magnifying glass to magnify the sun’s rays, the girls melted a piece of chocolate:

astronomy unit study (sun)

Astronomy Unit Study (Sun)

astronomy unit study (sun)

Astronomy Unit Study (Sun): Demonstrating a Solar Eclipse

We used a torch as the sun, a pingpong ball on string for the moon and a blow up world for the, well, earth 🙂  The girls demonstrated their knowledge of the eclipse as shown below:

Astronomy Unit Study (Sun)

Astronomy Unit Study (Sun)

Astronomy Unit Study (Sun)

Astronomy Unit Study (Sun): An Interview with Mr Solei!

I asked the older girls to act out the following interview with Mr Solei, acting it out and making it as comical as possible:

Astronomy Unit Study (Sun)

Astronomy Unit Study (Sun)

Astronomy Unit Study (Sun)

Astronomy Unit Study (Sun)

Astronomy Unit Study (Sun)

Astronomy Unit Study (Sun)

Astronomy Unit Study (Sun)

Astronomy Unit Study (Sun)

Well, as you can see, they found it funny 🙂

Astronomy Unit Study (Sun) – Tracking Images of the Sun

The little ones then learnt about sun spots, and how to track them.  They learnt about longitude and latitude and tracked images of the sun, measuring where the sun-spots are and how they move across the images:

Astronomy Unit Study (Sun)

Astronomy Unit Study (Sun): Comics

We read these magazines about the ‘Colour of the Sun’ and ‘Secrets of Sunlight’ and ‘What is Colour?‘ and watched the video ‘Colours and motions of the sun’ and another one ‘Colours of the Sun’


These were very worth reading.  They cover fairly tricky subjects in language my nine year old fully understood and my six year old sometimes understood.  When we read through ‘Secrets of Sunlight’, the girls learnt about how each element has a spectral finger print, which are the colours they absorb and therefore the colours they emit.  A simple spectrometer is created using material which works in the same way as a prism.  We just happened to have some ROY G. BIV glasses which separate white light into all its colour components.  This was so much fun…..looking at a normal bulb:

which separates the light out as shown here (photo taken through the lens):Astronomy Unit Study (Sun)

Astronomy Unit Study (Sun)

Then we looked at a tube light in our kitchen:

This was sooo cool!  Lastly we looked up at the kitchen spot lights:

This really brought to light (Ha!  Light?  Geddit?!) everything they had read about in the comics, and it helped them to understand that the sun is white (it has all the coloured wave-lengths) and not yellow, and that the white light of the sun splits into its component parts as it is bounced about by the atmosphere (just like it does when it goes through a prism, or the diffraction glasses as shown above).

Astronomy Unit Study (Sun): Shadows

The sun’s inability to travel around corners is what makes creating shadows possible.  The girls created went out into the sun to demonstrate this.  Using the same idea, Lillie sun paper to make sun art (and they filled in a  mini book):

Astronomy Unit Study (Sun): Launching a Rocket

I found this rocket ship in the charity shop which we took the opportunity to make.  A9 LOVED this activity and was outside re-launching it all afternoon:

And the played again….and again….and again….all afternoon actually.

Astronomy Unit Study (Sun): Sun-Themed Cup-Cakes and Sun Cookies

As a last activities we made some sun cookies 🙂  I’d had this planned for a while, and by the time we actually got round to doing it, the little ones were almost apoplectic with excitement (seriously, all it takes is sugar).  I gathered all the bits and pieces I’d collected:

This was supposed to be an activity for the little ones to learn about the sun, ‘cos y’know, the older ones had learnt about it some eight years ago.  But the moment the twins sensed there was sugar on the horizon they were in with a flash:

Followed swiftly by their almost 16 year old brother:

So there I am trying to get pictures of the little ones creating suns with sun spots, sun flares etc etc  but the big ones kind of took over and I was ousted out until they had finished.  They were all quite chuffed with the results though:

As was I:

A very cool activity which seemed to suit all ages…..

6 comments on “Astronomy Unit Study: Unit Two – The Sun

  1. Phyllis at All Things Beautiful

    That is a really nice collection of hands-on projects related to the sun.

    • Thanks Phyllis – it’s fun going over all of this again with my younger set 🙂

  2. Apologia does have some fun lessons! Looks like you all are having a good time learning together. I did this with my older girls but have it sitting on the shelf for the younger set.

  3. It involves sugar, of course it’s a hit.
    I loved teaching astronomy, that was such a fun science to teach.

  4. Toni Cintron

    Another awesome unit study! Has anyone told you lately how amazing you are?

  5. Pingback: A fun, hands-on astronomy unit study focusing on planet Venus

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