What are some astronomy science fair projects? (Beginner)

I'm doing science fair and picked astronomy as my topic. Do you have any ideas for projects? Please send some ASAP if you can! My science fair is in February.

First, I should say that I think it's great that you want to do your science fair project on an astronomy topic! However, we have a general policy of not helping with school assignments. Your science fair project is something that you should design yourself, based on your interests and time constraints! We don't really know you or your school well enough to suggest a list of specific things that will work for you.

I can offer some suggestions of places to start looking, though. First, it might help to narrow down your interests a bit. Astronomy includes a lot of stuff, so are you interested in stars, planets, comets, space travel, the Sun and Moon, or the motion of objects in the sky? Also, what are the rules for your science fair? Is building a model or providing an explanation of some phenomenon acceptable, or do you need to do a controlled experiment where you analyze data yourself? Even if building a model is sufficient, you'll almost certainly end up with a better, more impressive project if you choose one where you start with a hypothesis about what will happen, make measurements, and come to a conclusion yourself. So you'll probably want to look for projects that are quantitative (involve making measurements and/or doing calculations).

Once you have a clear idea of your interests and type of project you need, you can search around for ideas. I actually recommend going to the library first. There are dozens of books with science fair project ideas, they're free, and they're all in one place. A librarian can help you find the section that they're found in. Also, you could try looking in the non-fiction astronomy section. There are several astronomy books I've seen that have project ideas, although they aren't really science fair specific. You might try looking at the books by Fred Schaaf, for example "Seeing the Sky" suggests observations you can make of stars and the sky. He has another book called "Seeing the Solar System." And I know there are other astronomy books with projects too, in both the adult and juvenile sections of the library, I just don't remember what they are offhand. If you find a project that sounds fun, be sure that it works with the rules of your science fair. I remember when I was doing science fair a bunch of people ended up in trouble because they picked a project that wasn't "legal" in our particular science fair.

Also, many times you can modify ideas you find at the library to make them more interesting or more doable. Or perhaps you can use the same method to test something different. More original ideas are always better and usually more interesting since you have some personal interest in the answer.

You can also search the web for ideas, although most science fair sites I've found are advertisement-heavy, and you have to click around a lot to find any project ideas. Try using a search engine such as Google, and type in "science fair project ideas astronomy". Or better yet, type in something more specific once you know the type of astronomy you're interested in.

We've tracked down some other resources that might be helpful. The Astronomy Cafe website shares some previously asked questions about astronomy science projects. Since this question was first answered, the world of citizen science has really taken off. Citizen science projects, including a large number of astronomy-related projects, allow people to interact with and analyze real scientific data. If you check out the projects at the Zooniverse or at Citizen Science Central, you'll uncover interesting data sets that would allow you to carry out a really great science fair project. It's still up to you, though, to follow the steps above to conduct a compelling investigation! We would recommend exploring a citizen science project as a participant for a while, then asking yourself, "What questions have I come up with as I've looked around? How could I explore this data to answer a scientific question?"

I hope this answer is useful, and sorry we can't be more specific. Good luck with your project!

This answer was last updated on June 18, 2015 by Ann Martin.

About the Author

Lynn Carter

Lynn uses radar astronomy to study the planets, especially Venus. She got her PhD in Astronomy from Cornell in Summer 2004 and is now working at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. on the Mars Express radar.

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