Projects & Activities

eye scope

What can you do with your MicroObservatory images once you've taken and downloaded them? What classroom investigations are available?

These guides, lesson plans, and project ideas are drawn from our library of MicroObservatory curricula, plus other relevant resources. Many of them require the use of our JS9-4L Image processing software, so don't forget to visit the Analyze Images and Tools & Training sections of this site.

Introduction to MicroObservatory

This Teacher's Guide is from the NASA-funded Beyond the Solar System professional development DVD produced by the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian. It provides an overview of how to use the telescopes with students.
Recommended for teachers of grades 5-12.

Introduction to MicroObservatory (pdf)
Introduction to MicroObservatory (Spanish)
Professional Development Videos

NASA's Astrophoto Challenges

Test your processing skills in this season of NASA's Astrophoto Challenges! Every season we choose a new object in the sky. Then it's up to you to process your best image of that object, using either MicroObservatory or NASA image data. Recommended for all.

NASA's Astrophoto Challenges

Eta Carinae Learning Resources

Past Season's Highlights

Telescope Log Sheet

A handy tool for keeping track of your observations. Recommended for students, teachers, informal education audiences, and the general public.

Telescope Log Sheet (PDF)

Kinesthetic Telescope

A physical activity to put yourself in the shoes (or stand!) of a MicroObservatory telescope. Recommended for students, teachers, informal education audiences, and the general public.

Kinesthetic Telescope (PDF)


Practice making observations while creatively putting together a poem based on an astronomical object. Recommended for students, teachers, informal education audiences, and the general public.


Astropoetry (Spanish)

Astropoetry Handout

How does my eye compare to the telescope?

These introductory activities help you compare the features of your own eye to those of the telescope. Estimate your eye's aperture, field-of-view, "exposure time," and other parameters. Recommended for teachers of grades 7-12; useful for all users.

Teacher Guide (PDF)

Student Journal (PDF)

From the Ground Up! Telescope Curriculum

This website contains a whole set of downloadable student and teacher guides for hands-on investigations of the universe using the MicroObservatory telescopes. Some of the activities may require combining students' OWN images with images from the MicroObservatory image archives. Recommended for teachers of grades 7-12.


Gravity and the Many Lenses of Knowing

This activity engages students in exploring real data from the Parallel Imager for Southern Cosmology Observations (PISCO) on the Magellan Telescope in Las Campanas, Chile. Students use JS9-4L to work with PISCO images of a distant galaxy cluster to explore the phenomenon of gravitational lensing. Recommended for teachers of grades 9-12.

Teacher Guide (PDF)

MicroObservatory Activities Adapted for Teens in Out-of-School Time

The NSF-funded Youth Astronomy Apprenticeship Program at the MIT Kavli Center for Astrophysics and Space Research collaborated with us to create this extensive curriculum geared specially for high-school-age teens in out-of-school-time.

YAA Activity Book (PDF) - Warning: This document is large (8.2 MB) and over 300 pages, so it is available below in sections, making it easier to download and print.

Kids Capture the Universe

We and our MIT partners developed this 10-session program in collaboration with Citizen Schools, a nationwide after-school program for middle-school students. Over 10 sessions, teams of young people use MicroObservatory and create astronomy poems and sculptures in order to construct a culminating public astrophotography exhibition. Adaptable for grades 5 and up and for family science programs.

KCU Curriculum (3.4 Mb PDF)

Youth Astronomy Network

Our Harvard-Smithsonian Youth Astronomy Network (YouthAstroNet) is a national STEM learning community of students and educators using our MicroObservatory online robotic telescope network.

YouthAstroNet Recruitment Flyer (PDF)

YouthAstroNet FAQ (PDF)

Sign up for YouthAstroNet

Explore other online telescope projects and programs

There are a growing number of organizations that provide access to increasingly sophisticated online telescopes and to astronomy investigations using images and image processing software. The features and ease-of-use of these vary quite a bit, but there is plenty of room to grow if you get hooked on investigating the universe through remote telescope observing! Some of the following programs are free while others charge subscription or "viewing credit" fees — happy observing!

A further list of remote observing facilities can be found at the Robotic Telescope Projects website courtesy of F.Hessman