Astronomy for VCE Physics
4.2 (322 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
8,407 students enrolled

Astronomy for VCE Physics

Learn the VCE Physics Astronomy course through instruction, simulations and your own observations of the night sky.
4.2 (322 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
8,407 students enrolled
Created by Paul Fielding
Last updated 4/2014
English [Auto-generated]
Price: Free
This course includes
  • 39 mins on-demand video
  • 3 articles
  • 22 downloadable resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
What you'll learn
  • By the end of this course you will have an understanding of the motion of the night sky
  • how to observe celestial objects

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

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.

Who this course is for:
  • year 11 physics students undertaking Astronomy
Course content
Expand all 32 lectures 01:11:28
+ Introduction to Astronomy
9 lectures 19:23

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.

Introduction to Astronomy

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

Introduction to Astronomy questions
1 page
Watching the night sky activity
1 page

Let's see what you know.

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

Software available from:

Getting started with Stellarium
The Ecliptic as seen from outside the solar system
Stellarium ecliptic and key functions
+ Plotting star positions (co-ordinate systems)
5 lectures 09:05

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.

Co-ordinate systems

Complete the glossary and these questions.

Star position questions
1 page
Star position quiz
5 questions

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.

Activity Recording positions of stars (Home observation exercise)
6 pages
Sidereal time

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.

Activity Sidereal time
1 page
+ The motion of the Sun, equinoxes and the Zodiac
4 lectures 05:33
The Zodiac
A matter of time activity
2 pages
Checking your star sign
Check your star sign activity
2 pages
+ The phases of the Moon
3 lectures 01:59

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 information
1 page
Phases of the moon lecture
Phases of the moon activity
+ Retrograde motion of planets
2 lectures 03:55
Retrograde motion lecture
Retrograde motion activity
1 page
+ Historical understanding of the Universe
2 lectures 00:00
Historical research questions
1 page
General Astronomy questions
1 page
+ Telescopes
2 lectures 00:00

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

Telescope information
5 pages
Making a telescope activity
2 pages
+ Celestial objects
1 lecture 00:00
Celestial objects activity
1 page
+ The Southern region of sky
1 lecture 00:00
Southern region of sky activity
2 pages
+ Revision and Test
3 lectures 00:11
Revision questions
1 page
Revision answers
2 pages