The Sun and Stars - Overview

Pan-Canadian Learning Outcomes

it is expected that students will...

Science, Technology, Society and Environment (STSE)

Describe how evidence must be continually questioned in order to validate scientific knowledge (e.g., provide examples of ideas, such as the flat Earth, the Earth as the centre of the solar system, and life on Mars, which were or are being challenged to develop new understandings of the natural world)
describe examples of improvements to the tools and techniques of scientific investigation that have led to new discoveries (e.g., describe examples, such as the lunar buggy, the Canadarm, the Hubble telescope, and space probes, which have extended scientific knowledge)
compare tools, techniques, and scientific ideas used by different people around the world to interpret natural phenomena and meet their needs (e.g., compare how different cultures over time, such as the Celts, the Aztecs, and the Egyptians, traced the positions of stars to determine the appropriate time to plant and harvest crops)


Performing and recording

record observations using a single word, notes in point form, sentences, and simple diagrams and charts (e.g., use a data table to record night sky observations)

Analyzing and interpreting

compile and display data, by hand or by computer, in a variety of formats including frequency tallies, tables, and bar graphs (e.g., prepare a diagram showing the orbits of the planets)


describe the physical characteristics of components of the solar system - specifically, the sun, planets, moons, comets, asteroids, and meteors

Module Topics

1. Introduction to Stars

  • Energy through nuclear reactions
  • The Sun is a typical star
  • Stars located at enormous distances

2. Brightness of Stars

  • Stars have various sizes
    • Largest 300 times bigger than the Sun
  • Magnitudes used to describe apparent brightness
  • Magnitude scale

3. Types of Stars

  • Most stars are double stars
    • Appear as one due to great distances
    • Binary stars are double stars gravitationally bound together
  • Study the light from stars to learn more about them
  • Variable stars

4. Temperatures of Stars

  • Stars are classified by their temperature
  • Temperature is related to colour
  • Stars can also be classified by chemical composition
  • Studying the spectra of a star tells us about its composition

5. The Life Cycle of a Star

  • All stars have a lifecycle
  • Stars of different masses live different lives
  • Three stages to the life cyle
    • Formation of the star
    • Normal living
    • End phase or death

6. Composition of Stars

  • Stars are big balls of gas
  • Stars have various layers
    • Corona
      • Solar wind
      • Solar flares
      • Prominences
    • Transition zone
    • Chromosphere
    • Photosphere (surface)
    • Convection zone
    • Radiation zone
    • Core

7. The Surface of the Sun

  • Sunspots
  • Differential rotation
  • Solar flares
  • Solar cycle

8. Studying the Sun and Stars

  • Filters on telescopes
  • Image projection
  • Helioseismology
  • Safe viewing of the Sun

9. Summary