There are many other programs out there that get teachers and/or students in contact with real astronomy data. Here are the ones we know about. Please let us know if you know of one not listed here. Please note that some of these programs may have suffered in this budget environment and are no longer operating (though website activities may be still available). We also maintain a separate list of other somewhat simpler opportunities that might be suitable for, say, K-6 teachers.
Jump down to:
Astronomy Programs for Teachers and Students
Public-web-access robotic telescopes
Astronomy Citizen Science
Even Bigger Projects
Summer research opportunities for high school students
Places to publish for high school students
All of these programs aimed at educators and students up through grade 13; there are many more opportunities to get your hands on real data in college. Also note that for this subset of the page, the programs are very roughly sorted by wavelength; the wavelength regime as listed is often the primary but not the only data used in the program.
- Hands-On Universe (HOU), which is now Global HOU. High school and middle school curriculum materials and image processing software available online, much of it for free. Current GHOU-USA activities. (Primarily aimed at teachers; rolling admission for most activities.) See also HOU Curriculum (the original book), available online.
- Yerkes Astrophysics Academy for Young Scientists (YAAYS). (for students grades 3-8)
- Lick Observatory Teacher Institute (Teachers must apply.)
- SDSS education, see specifically Sky Server projects. Note that SDSS Voyages is the updated version of this, though not all exercises have been moved over. (anyone can participate anytime)
- Other Worlds, Other Earths - looking for exoplanets (middle and high school teachers and students can participate anytime after registering.)
- MicroObservatory online telescopes. (anyone can participate anytime)
- Skynet online telescopes, run from North Carolina; ground-based telescopes worldwide. (see also Skynet Junior Scholars and Skynet University) (originally aimed at NC teachers and students; now expanding, including the general public)
- Boyce Astro and BRIEF. Several different opportunities. Students, teachers, and the public; San Diego area only
- GORT, a ground-based telescope that is part of both GTN (listed below under 'bigger things') and Skynet. (Available to high school and college instructors and students.)
- WorldWide Telescope Ambassadors Program. (Primarily teachers in a few specific geographic regions, so far Boston, Dallas-Ft. Worth, and more to come; watch website for details.)
- Las Cumbres Observatory (LCO), education division. See in particular Agent Exoplanet. Has absorbed what used to be just Faulkes Telescopes. (Opportunities for teachers and students; lots of tutorials online.)
- Galaxies and Cosmos Explorer Tool, from UTexas Austin. (Anyone can participate anytime.)
- RBSEU labs, a descendent of RBSE. (Available to anyone, anytime.)
- NOAO's Research-Based Science Education (RBSE) (Primarily aimed at teachers; program on hiatus for now.)
- Mars Exploration Student Data Teams (MESDT). (May no longer be operating?)
- Mars Student Imaging Project (MSIP) (Educators must apply, but can start anytime.)
- GRAIL MoonKAM. Request pictures of the Moon. (May no longer be operating?)
- ExMASS High School Research program - Exploration of the Moon and Asteroids by Secondary Students. (teacher-student teams; teachers must apply annually.)
- National Schools' Observatory. (Available only to schools in the UK and Ireland)
- Telescopes in Education -- at least used to be a NASA-based program including Mt. Wilson. The website is currently entirely in Japanese and has nothing whatsoever to do with astronomy. Current status of program unknown.
- Telescopes in Schools, a program to put research-grade telescopes into secondary schools. (Available only to schools around Melbourne, Australia)
- HI STAR Summer Research Program, a one week astronomy program for grade 8-11 students. (Available only to students in Hawaii. Annual application process.)
- ESA/ESO Astronomy Exercises, online labs using data. (Available to anyone, anytime.)
- Project CLEA, online labs (with a long, well-established reputation for quality) using data. (Available to anyone, anytime.)
- Starlight in the university lab: Practical activities for Scientific Skills (or in short Astrolab) (Only Subsaharan Africa)
- Proyecto Educativo con Telescopios Robóticos (PETeR) - Inquiry lab work for the Spanish community
- Other, or multi-wavelength
Some of these programs provide a place to start, a place admittedly with training wheels, but they do provide different aspects of the skills leading to jumping into the public archive directly. In order to actually get into the archive and do anything substantive, one needs to understand the nature of photometry, instrumental errors, and what signals to look for, before getting into data downloads, Fourier transforms, and programming. One can start to build that skill set by starting with any of these programs, plus more from elsewhere on this page, or programs that you can find that are not on the list. These are *very* roughly in order of depth of understanding required.
- PlanetQuest activities - Fairly packaged activities, but addressing the concepts needed to continue.
- Planet Hunters - Citizen science, working explicitly with Kepler data.
- Kepler classroom activities. Wide variety of levels; the highest level thing there is the college-level inquiry-based lab.
- LCOGT's Agent Exoplanet - work with ground-based data for known exoplanet hosts to look for transits.
- Other Worlds, Other Earths - work with and obtain additional ground-based data for known exoplanet hosts to look for transits.
- Exoplanets.org - collection of exoplanets and parameters, and you can make plots of various things. To do sensible things here, you need to understand enough to figure out what is useful to plot.
- Systemic Live - web application that lets you visualize real radial velocity datasets, and try to fit them with a planetary system model. Apparently has been used in many educational environments. Includes tutorials.
- Kepler Planet Candidate Data Explorer - an interface to the Kepler database, but no labs for it that I can find, so you have to understand by yourself what to look for and how to find it.
- TransitSearch.org - pointers to resources like the AAVSO and TRESCA database - if you have your own telescope and can do reliable photometry, where to submit your observations.
- Original Research By Young Twinkle Students (ORBYTS) - part of the Twinkle space mission. Certain schools in the UK only.
- NASA Exoplanet Archive - the real deal.
- lightkurve software package (Python) to make analysis of Kepler, K2, and TESS light curves easier. There are tutorials.
- Google's Machine Learning code adapted for use with Kepler light curves.
Originally grabbed from here, which has a much better (if possibly dated) list, with a description for each project.
These programs all involve the use of real data on the forefront of astronomical research, but are "packaged" so as to make accessing the real data far more easy (e.g., entirely web browser-based) than it might be otherwise. These projects are a great way to start to get into real data. Many offer "hooks" to get into the research questions at a deeper level when you are ready. Many have lesson plans ready-to-go.
Things that need more of a time commitment, e.g., your own observatory (not a 3-inch Walmart telescope, but not a 3.5 meter either):
Most of these at the high school level cost money; a few pay the student. At the college level, there are many opportunities where the student gets paid.