Astronomers and Their Tools - Overview

Pan-Canadian Learning Outcomes

It is expected that students will...

Science, Technology, Society and Environment (STSE)

Nature of science and technology

demonstrate the importance of using the languages of science and technology to compare and communicate ideas, processes, and results (e.g., use appropriate terminology such as "constellations," "planets," "moons," "comets," "asteroids," and "meteors" to describe objects in space)

Relationships between science and technology

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)
describe instances where scientific ideas and discoveries have led to new inventions and applications (e.g., describe examples for producing electrical energy, such as how a better understanding of tides has led to their harnessing

Social and environmental contexts of science and technology

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, have traced the positions of stars to determine the appropriate time to plant and harvest crops)
provide examples of Canadians who have contributed to science and technology (e.g., provide examples of Canadian astronauts such as Marc Garneau, Roberta Bondar and Chris Hadfield)
describe scientific and technological achievements that are the result of contributions by people from around the world (e.g., describe international contributors related to the construction of the space station)


Analysing and interpreting

evaluate the usefulness of different information sources in answering a given question (e.g., compare information received from science fiction stories about space with that from scientific sources)

Initiating and planning

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)

Module Topics

1. Ancient Astronomers

  • Egypt's Great Pyramids
  • England's Stonehenge
  • Middle and Far East
  • Greek Philosophers

2. Astronomy in the Middle Ages

  • Church-Sponsored Astronomy vs. Secular Astrology
  • Heretical Discoveries
    • Copernicus
    • Brahe
    • Galileo
  • Widening Support for a Heliocentric Model
    • Kepler
      • Three Laws of Planetary Motion
    • Newton
      • Three Laws of Motion

3. Technological Advances

  • Lord Rosse's Telescope
  • Hale Telescope
  • Telescopes Today
    • Keck I and II
  • Astrophotography
    • Early attempts
    • CCD's

4. Space Age Astronomy

  • Limitations of Earth-based telescopes
  • Hubble Space Telescope
  • Adaptive Optics
  • Radio Telescopes
  • X- and Gamma Ray Telescopes

5. Space Race Achievements

  • Sputnik 1
  • Moon Missions
  • Planetary Probes
    • Venera 7
    • Pioneer Venus
    • Viking 1 and 2
    • Pioneer 10 and 11
    • Voyager 1 and 2
    • Voyager Interstellar Mission

6. Canada's Role in Space Science

  • CFHT
  • Mir
  • Thermal Plasma Analyzer
  • ISS
  • Canadians in Space
    • Marc Garneau
    • Roberta Bondar
    • Chris Hadfield

7. Prominent Canadian Astronomers

  • Sun Kwok
  • David Levy
  • Terrance Dickinson

8. Summary