SC.8.E.5.5

Describe and classify specific physical properties of stars: apparent magnitude (brightness), temperature (color), size, and luminosity (absolute brightness).
General Information
Subject Area: Science
Grade: 8
Body of Knowledge: Earth and Space Science
Idea: Level 2: Basic Application of Skills & Concepts
Big Idea: Earth in Space and Time - The origin and eventual fate of the Universe still remains one of the greatest questions in science. Gravity and energy influence the formation of galaxies, including our own Milky Way Galaxy, stars, the planetary systems, and Earth. Humankind’s need to explore continues to lead to the development of knowledge and understanding of the nature of the Universe.
Date Adopted or Revised: 02/08
Date of Last Rating: 05/08
Status: State Board Approved
Assessed: Yes
Test Item Specifications
  • Item Type(s): This benchmark may be assessed using: MC item(s)
  • Also Assesses
    SC.8.E.5.6
    Create models of solar properties including: rotation, structure of the Sun, convection, sunspots, solar flares, and prominences.

  • Clarification :
    Students will describe and/or classify physical properties of stars: apparent magnitude, temperature (color), size, and absolute brightness.

    Students will evaluate models of solar properties and/or explain solar characteristics, including rotation, structure of the Sun, convection, sunspots, solar flares, and prominences.
  • Content Limits :
    Items addressing stars will focus on main sequence stars and their properties.

    Items will not assess stages of stellar evolution.

    Items will not assess the specific chemical composition of stars.
  • Stimulus Attributes :
    Distances will be given in units of astronomical units (AU) or light-years.

    The phrase absolute brightness should be used rather than luminosity.
  • Response Attributes :
    Distances will be given in units of astronomical units (AU) or light-years.
  • Prior Knowledge :
    Items may require the student to apply science knowledge described in the NGSSS from lower grades. This benchmark requires prerequisite knowledge from SC.3.E.5.1, SC.3.E.5.2, SC.3.E.5.3, and SC.5.E.5.1.
Sample Test Items (1)
  • Test Item #: Sample Item 1
  • Question: One physical property of a star is apparent magnitude. Which of the following is used in determining the apparent magnitude of a star?
  • Difficulty: N/A
  • Type: MC: Multiple Choice

Related Courses

This benchmark is part of these courses.
2002100: M/J Comprehensive Science 3 (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
2002110: M/J Comprehensive Science 3, Advanced (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
2001010: M/J Earth/Space Science (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
2001020: M/J Earth/Space Science, Advanced (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
7820017: Access M/J Comprehensive Science 3 (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2018, 2018 and beyond (current))
2002085: M/J Comprehensive Science 2 Accelerated Honors (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
2001025: M/J STEM Astronomy and Space Science (Specifically in versions: 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))

Related Access Points

Alternate version of this benchmark for students with significant cognitive disabilities.
SC.8.E.5.In.5: Identify differences in physical properties of stars, such as brightness, color, and size.
SC.8.E.5.Su.4: Recognize that the Sun is the closest star to Earth and appears large and bright.
SC.8.E.5.Pa.2: Recognize the Sun and stars as objects in space.

Related Resources

Vetted resources educators can use to teach the concepts and skills in this benchmark.

Lesson Plans

Desktop Constellations:

Students will draw constellations on their desktops with dry erase crayons. They will identify the stars' absolute magnitudes for the brightest stars in the constellation. Students will explore the meaning of absolute magnitude vs. apparent magnitude in a 3D environment. Students will write explanations for how the stars in a constellation can appear to be of similar magnitude and similar distances away from the observer even if their true data shows they are very different.

Type: Lesson Plan

Stars: HR Diagram & Classification:

In this Model Eliciting Activity (MEA), students will categorize a list of stars based on absolute brightness, size, and temperature. Students will analyze astronomical data presented in charts and plot their data on a special graph called a Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram (H-R Diagram). Using this diagram, they must determine the proper classification of individual stars. Using their data analysis, students completing this MEA will develop two short essay responses to a professional client indicating which stars are Main Sequence Stars and which ones are White Dwarfs, Giants, or Supergiants.

Model Eliciting Activities, MEAs, are open-ended, interdisciplinary problem-solving activities that are meant to reveal students’ thinking about the concepts embedded in realistic situations. Click here to learn more about MEAs and how they can transform your classroom.

Type: Lesson Plan

Star Scatter Plots:

In this lesson, students plot temperature and luminosity data from a provided star table to create a scatter plot. They will analyze the data to sequence the colors of stars from hottest to coolest and to describe the relationship between temperature and luminosity. This lesson does not address differentiation between absolute and apparent magnitude.

Type: Lesson Plan

Starry Science:

In this engaging lesson, students will investigate and explore the effects of temperature, size, and magnitude on the luminosity and life span of stars using glow sticks. This lesson includes a guided inquiry lab and website exploration.

Type: Lesson Plan

Starry, Starry Night:

The students will learn about different stars. They will categorize them according to their temperature, color and mass. They will also use their imagination to create a star poster project and present their creation. They will name their new star and include its mass, color and temperature. They will present it through a report, song or poem in a poster form. They may work alone or in pairs (teacher's choice).

Type: Lesson Plan

To Infinity & Beyond:

Identify characteristics of stars.

Type: Lesson Plan

Original Student Tutorial

Star Properties:

Discover how scientists classify stars according to their brightness, temperature, color, and size in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Text Resources

Sun Sibling Spotted:

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. Scientists may have found a star created from the same nebula that produced our sun. The spectrograph composition data, the motion of the star through the Milky Way, and its age all suggest that it is a "sibling" to our Sun.

Type: Text Resource

We Are Stardust:

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. This text examines how humans and all things around us are made of elements created in stars. The article references fusion, the powerful collision of enormous stars, and the intense explosion of supernovas. All of this is tied to the creation of heavier elements that hurtle through space, to be reassembled as distant solar systems.

Type: Text Resource

Dusty Remains from a Dead Star:

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. Scientists have been observing a supernova that first appeared in 1987. Specifically, they have measured a large amount of star dust that formed as a result of the supernova. This dust is thought to be the material that forms new stars and studying it may tell scientists something about how stars formed early in the history of the universe.

Type: Text Resource

The Most Popular Stars :

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. This article discusses how stars are classified, especially the different types of dwarf stars. It is still under debate how some star-like objects, like brown dwarfs, should be classified. The text also describes the life cycle of stars, explaining how they change in size and mass over time and eventually expand and die.

Type: Text Resource

Brightest Stars: Luminosity & Magnitude:

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. This text briefly describes how astronomers have measured and quantified the apparent brightness and magnitude of stars as astrophysics has evolved over time. This article also discusses the limitations of absolute magnitude in terms of the technology tools utilized.

Type: Text Resource

Virtual Manipulatives

Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram Virtual Lab:

This interactive lab explores the Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram in areas of spectrum, classification, luminosity, and temperature. The simulator plots stars according to the areas you chose to explore.

Type: Virtual Manipulative

The Life Cycle of the Star/H-R Diagram:

This is a great resource with online lessons providing inquiry as you learn about the life cycle of the star as well as the usages of the H-R diagram. The images provide a conceptual understanding of the life cycle of the star and how it applies to the H-R diagram. You will enjoy the interactive lab tools as well as the online formative assessment questions.

Type: Virtual Manipulative

STEM Lessons - Model Eliciting Activity

Stars: HR Diagram & Classification:

In this Model Eliciting Activity (MEA), students will categorize a list of stars based on absolute brightness, size, and temperature. Students will analyze astronomical data presented in charts and plot their data on a special graph called a Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram (H-R Diagram). Using this diagram, they must determine the proper classification of individual stars. Using their data analysis, students completing this MEA will develop two short essay responses to a professional client indicating which stars are Main Sequence Stars and which ones are White Dwarfs, Giants, or Supergiants.

Model Eliciting Activities, MEAs, are open-ended, interdisciplinary problem-solving activities that are meant to reveal students’ thinking about the concepts embedded in realistic situations. Click here to learn more about MEAs and how they can transform your classroom.

Original Student Tutorials Science - Grades K-8

Star Properties:

Discover how scientists classify stars according to their brightness, temperature, color, and size in this interactive tutorial.

Student Resources

Vetted resources students can use to learn the concepts and skills in this benchmark.

Original Student Tutorial

Star Properties:

Discover how scientists classify stars according to their brightness, temperature, color, and size in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Virtual Manipulatives

Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram Virtual Lab:

This interactive lab explores the Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram in areas of spectrum, classification, luminosity, and temperature. The simulator plots stars according to the areas you chose to explore.

Type: Virtual Manipulative

The Life Cycle of the Star/H-R Diagram:

This is a great resource with online lessons providing inquiry as you learn about the life cycle of the star as well as the usages of the H-R diagram. The images provide a conceptual understanding of the life cycle of the star and how it applies to the H-R diagram. You will enjoy the interactive lab tools as well as the online formative assessment questions.

Type: Virtual Manipulative

Parent Resources

Vetted resources caregivers can use to help students learn the concepts and skills in this benchmark.