Boy Scout Astronomy Merit Badge Requirements can be viewed at USScouts.org.
Before the Camp
All Astronomy Merit Badge requirements will NOT be covered during the camp.
Boy Scouts should complete their Astronomy Merit Badge workbook prior to attending camp, except for items 3b, 4a, 4b, 4c, 5d, 6d, 7c, and 8a. our Merit Badge Counselors will NOT sign scout’s blue cards if the workbook is not complete. Will will NOT have time during the camp for scouts to work on items other than 3b, 4a, 4b, 4c, 5d, 6d, 7c, and 8a.
1a. Explain to your counselor the most likely hazards you may encounter while participating in astronomy activities, and what you should do to anticipate, help prevent, mitigate, and response to these hazards.
1b. Explain first aid for injuries or illnesses such as heat and cold reactions, dehydration, bites and stings, and damage to your eyes that could occur during observation.
1c. Describe the proper clothing and other precautions for safely making observations at night and in cold weather.
- Proper Clothing:
- Start Stargazing (especially #2 and #3)
1c. Then explain how to safely observe the Sun, objects near the Sun, and the Moon.
- Safely observing the Sun and objects near the Sun:http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/objects/sun/Viewing_the_Sun_Safely.html
- Safely observing the Moon:scroll down to Moon and Neutral Density Filters:
2. Explain what light pollution is and how it and air pollution affect astronomy.
- Dissecting Light Pollution
- Comets and Light Pollution
- Pollution and Stargazing
- Forecasting Haze (scroll down to read about haze)
3. With the aid of diagrams (or real telescopes if available), do each of the following:
a. Explain why binoculars and telescopes are important astronomical tools. Demonstrate how each of these tools are used.
b. Describe the similarities and differences of several types of astronomical telescopes.
c. Explain the purpose of at least three instruments used with astronomical telescopes.
d. Describe the proper care and storage of telescopes and binoculars both at home and in the field.
- Demonstrate how to use binoculars/telescopes
Done at Astronomy Merit Badge Camp
- Binoculars for Astronomy
- Choosing your First Telescope (includes how they are used and the types of telescopes)
- Meade Telescopes (read through article; it references several instruments that can be used with a telescope)http://www.meade.com/support/telewrk.html
- How to Take Care of Binoculars
- Caring for your Telescope
4a. Identify in the sky at least 10 constellations, at least four of which are in the zodiac. (Done at Astronomy Merit Badge Camp)
4b. Identify at least eight conspicuous stars, five of which are magnitude 1 or brighter. (Done at Astronomy Merit Badge Camp)
4c. Make two sketches of the Big Dipper. In one sketch, show the Big Dipper’s orientation in the early evening sky. In another sketch, show its position several hours later. In both sketches, show the North Star and the horizon. Record the date and time each sketch was made. (Done at Astronomy Merit Badge Camp)
4d. Explain what we see when we look at the Milky Way.
5a. List the names of the five most visible planets. Explain which ones can appear in phases similar to lunar phases and which ones cannot and explain why.
- (read the descriptions to know which ones you can easily view)
- (read “details” to learn why some planets have phases)
5b. Find out when each of the five most visible planets that you identified in requirement 5a will be observable in the evening sky during the next 12 months, then compile this information in the form of a chart or table.
- JPL’s Solar System Simulator
- Astronomy Calendar for Celestial Events
- Night Sky Planner
5c. Describe the motion of planets across the sky.
5d. Observe a planet and describe what you saw. (Done at Astronomy Merit Badge Camp)
6a. Sketch the face of the Moon and indicate at least five seas and five craters. Label these landmarks. (Done at Astronomy Merit Badge Camp)
6b. Sketch the phase and the daily position of the Moon, at the same hour and place, for four days in a row. Include landmarks on the horizon, such as hills, trees, and buildings. Explain the changes you observe.
6c. List the factors that keep the Moon in orbit around the Earth.
6d. With the aid of diagrams, explain the relative position of the Sun, Earth, and the Moon at the times of lunar and solar eclipses, and at the times of new, first-quarter, full, and last-quarter phases of the Moon.
- Earth/Moon/Sun Positions and Moon Phases
7a. Describe the composition of the Sun, its relationship to other stars, some effects of its radiation on Earth’s weather, and communications.
- Composition of the Sun
- How does Sun compare to other stars?
- Sun’s Effect on Earth’s Weather
- Radio Communication (read the captions, too!)
7b. Define sunspots and describe some of the effects they have on solar radiation.
- What is a sunspot?
- How sunspots work
7c. Identify at least one red star, one blue star, and one yellow star (other than the Sun). Explain the meaning of these colors. (Done at Astronomy Merit Badge Camp)
- Color of Stars
- The Brightest Stars (spectral type indicates color)
8a. Visit a planetarium or observatory. (Done at Astronomy Merit Badge Camp)
9. Find out about three different career opportunities in astronomy. Find out about the education, training, and experience required for one of the professions.
Other great astronomy resource pages:
- http://www.homeadvisor.com/r/home-science-backyard-astronomy/#.WZ17niiGM2w (recommended by Ava Williams)
- https://publicadmin.usc.edu/nasas-history-as-a-public-administration-agency/ (recommended by Adam)