Distinguish the various methods of measuring astronomical distances and apply each in appropriate situations.
General Information
Subject Area: Science
Grade: 912
Body of Knowledge: Earth and Space Science
Idea: Level 3: Strategic Thinking & Complex Reasoning
Standard: 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 development and life cycles of galaxies, including our own Milky Way Galaxy, stars, the planetary systems, Earth, and residual material left from the formation of the Solar System. 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

Related Courses

This benchmark is part of these courses.
2001350: Astronomy Solar/Galactic (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
2020910: Astronomy Solar/Galactic Honors (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
2001310: Earth/Space Science (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
2001320: Earth/Space Science Honors (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
2003410: Physics 2 Honors (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
2002330: Space Technology and Engineering (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2018 (course terminated))
1800320: Aerospace Science 3 (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
1800360: Aerospace Science 4 (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
7920020: Access Earth/Space Science (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2018, 2018 and beyond (current))
2003838: Florida's Preinternational Baccalaureate Physics 2 (Specifically in versions: 2015 and beyond (current))

Related Access Points

Alternate version of this benchmark for students with significant cognitive disabilities.

Related Resources

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

Lesson Plans

Comparing Distances in Astronomy:

Students will be introduced to various units used for measuring distances in astronomy and when to use each. This lesson will review conversions between units and using scale models.

Type: Lesson Plan

Scientific calculations from a distant planet:

Students will act as mathematicians and scientists as they use models, observations and space science concepts to perform calculations and draw inferences regarding a fictional solar system with three planets in circular orbits around a sun. Among the calculations are estimates of the size of the home planet (using a method more than 2000 years old) and the relative distances of the planets from their sun.

Type: Lesson Plan

Calculating the Earth-Sun distance using Satellite Observations of a Venus Transit:

Every school child learns that the earth-sun distance is 93 million miles. Yet, determining this distance was a formidable challenge to the best scientists and mathematicians of the 18th and 19th centuries. The purpose of this lesson is to use the 2012 Transit of Venus as an opportunity to work through the mathematics to calculate the earth-sun distance. The only tools needed are basic knowledge of geometry, algebra, and trigonometry. The lesson is self-contained in that it includes all the data needed to work through the exercise.

Type: Lesson Plan

Teaching Idea

Measuring the Distance to Nearby Stars Using Parallax:

This video provides a very complete and detailed overview of the parallax effect and how it can be used to measure astronomical distances using the tangent function. A number of student activities are presented throughout the 26 minute video, so students can have the opportunity to engage in measuring distances to stars and other local landmarks and can try making the required calculations on their own.The relevance of this concept to other fields, such as surveying, is also noted in the video.

Type: Teaching Idea


Speed of Light in Transparent Materials:

  • Study the relation between the speed of light and the refractive index of the medium it passes through.
  • Choose from a collection of materials with known refractive indices and obtain the speed of light as it passes through.
  • Learn why light-years are used as an astronomical measurement of distance.

Type: Tutorial

Student Resources

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Parent Resources

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