Welcome to Astronomy Merit Badge 2017

Welcome Scouts to the 2017 session of Astronomy Merit Badge for the Knox Trail Merit Badge College. I think we’re going to have a lot of fun and hopefully you’ll learn a few things in the process. This is not an easy merit badge to earn. There are a lot of things you need to do and a lot of things to learn, but if you are prepared you should have no problem accomplishing all of the requirements.

Here’s a little information about me. I am an actor and educator. You may have met me before when I brought one of my science programs to your school. I visit schools as Galileo, the Stargazer’s Apprentice and with my Starlab traveling planetarium (where we will spend most of our time). Before beginning my school programs, I was a lecturer for ten years at the Charles Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Science in Boston. You can learn more about me by visiting my web site at http://www.Mike-Francis.com/sst.htm.

Stars Science Theater Stalab Traveling Planetarium
A tight squeeze for the Starlab.

I hope you’ve started working on the requirements in your Boy Scout Merit Badge pamphlet already, so you don’t have to try to do everything all at once.

Learning the constellations and stars is always the hardest part.  It’s a good idea to start looking at the stars on your computer, using planetarium software. If you have your own, you can start right away. If you don’t, I recommend a program called Stellarium  hppt://www.Stellarium.org . It is free and comes in Windows, Mac and Linux versions. I’ve checked it out to make sure there is no spyware. Download it (with your parents permission, of course) and try it out. I’ll be posting a new message soon with some hints on how to use it.  You can also try using one of the many astronomy apps for Androids and iPhones to get used to finding the stars in the real night sky.

At our second session (April 1st) I will be collecting all of your prepared materials that you didn’t finish by our first session. I expect to see well written answers and explanations and clearly labeled diagrams and sketches. We also spend our second session testing your knowledge of the stars and constellations.

I’m going to try to post something new to this blog daily.  It may be something that will be helpful for earning your merit badge or it may be something that’s just interesting about Astronomy. I hope you can check in often. You can also send me any questions or make comments. If it’s clear outside at night, go out and look at the sky every night and practice finding constellations and stars.

Mike Francis



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