Astronomy for VCE Physics

Learn the VCE Physics Astronomy course through instruction, simulations and your own observations of the night sky.
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  • Lectures 32
  • Length 1 hour
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
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    Available on iOS and Android
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About This Course

Published 1/2014 English

Course Description

This course covers the content as prescribed by VCAA for the Unit 1,2 Physics Detailed Study of Astronomy.

The course includes audio/video instruction, running simulations, analysing images and, importantly, your own observations of the night sky.

The course will take 3 weeks to complete, with 3 lessons per week.

Each lesson typically involves:

- the introduction of the theory (video and/or text)

- experiment/practical activity/night sky observation/simulation exercise

- further reading/references

- quiz

The final lessons will go through revision of course content, then a final test.

What are the requirements?

  • An inquiring mind
  • access the computer or iPad (preferrably both)
  • access to the internet

What am I going to get from this course?

  • By the end of this course you will have an understanding of the motion of the night sky
  • how to observe celestial objects

Who is the target audience?

  • year 11 physics students undertaking Astronomy

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Introduction to Astronomy

Introduction to the course: why astronomy is so important and fascinating.

The course follows the VCAA Units1/2 Physics detailed study. Details can be found here within the study design.

1 page

Question sheet for you to answer. Answers can be found within the lecture, but further research is recommended.

Watching the night sky activity
1 page
4 questions

Let's see what you know.

Further reading, things to watch and sites to look at
Starry Night software demonstration showing the ecliptic

Software available from:

The Ecliptic as seen from outside the solar system
Stellarium ecliptic and key functions
Section 2: Plotting star positions (co-ordinate systems)

Watch this video as an introduction to the co-ordinate systems used in Astronomy.

There are many other videos that can be found on youtube searching on "astronomy coordinate systems" or "celestial coordinates". Try this or this or even how to navigate using star coordinates from here.

Another comprehensive analysis of Orion is here.

1 page

Complete the glossary and these questions.

Star position quiz
5 questions
6 pages

Download the attached and complete over multiple night viewings. This should not take too long, but carefully locate the objects you are tracking.

Take time to get to know the sky. If you can get away from street lighting and look at the sky for a while, you will notice some have colour. Orion is a great place to start looking for stars with colour. Read the information and watch the video from this link.

The BBC video at this link also contains information about Orion's colours. Remember it is being viewed from the Northern Hemisphere, so it is the other way up for those of us in the Southern Hemisphere.

Sidereal time
1 page

Download and print the attached.

Follow the directions/questions to learn what a sidereal day is and how long it is.

Answers available for download, but make sure you have completed teh questions before checking your answers.

Section 3: The motion of the Sun, equinoxes and the Zodiac
The Zodiac
A matter of time activity
2 pages
Checking your star sign
Check your star sign activity
2 pages
Section 4: The phases of the Moon
1 page

This diagram shows why we see the moon as we do. On this diagram, the Moon is always lit from the right. As it revolves around the Earth, we are looking at the lit side, the dark side, or somewhere in between.

Additionally, the Moon is no longer geologically active. It's core has cooled and solidified and it has stopped rotating on it's axis. It is more dense on the side that faces us, and we always see this side from Earth.

Phases of the moon lecture
Phases of the moon activity
Section 5: Retrograde motion of planets
Retrograde motion lecture
Retrograde motion activity
1 page
Section 6: Historical understanding of the Universe
Historical research questions
1 page
General Astronomy questions
1 page
Section 7: Telescopes
5 pages

This document outlines the main types of telescopes and how they are configured.

Making a telescope activity
2 pages
Section 8: Celestial objects
Celestial objects activity
1 page
Section 9: The Southern region of sky
Southern region of sky activity
2 pages
Section 10: Revision and Test
Revision questions
1 page
Revision answers
2 pages

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Instructor Biography

Paul Fielding, Teacher

Currently teaching Physics, Mathematics and Science.

Love everything to do with these topics.

I have been teaching for ten years. Prior to this I was an Engineer at a factory manufacturing telecommunication grade optical fibre. Most of the data and voice traffic in Australia and New Zealand travels through fibre that we made.

My first Engineering job was in the electronic design of the head-up display used in the F-16.

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