Old Hickory Council - Hanging Rock District

Troop 444: Astronomy Merit Badge






  1. Describe the proper clothing and other precautions for safely making observations at night and in cold weather. Tell how to safely observe the Sun, objects near the Sun, and the Moon. Explain first aid for injuries or illnesses, such as heat and cold reactions, dehydration, bites and stings, and damage to your eyes that could occur during observation.
  2. Explain what light pollution is and how it and air pollution affect astronomy.
  3. With the aid of diagrams (or real telescopes if available), do each of the following:
        A. Explain why binoculars and telescopes are important astronomical tools. Demonstrate or explain
            how these tools are used.
        B. Describe the similarities and differences of several types of astronomical telescopes.
        C. Explain the purposes of at least three instruments used with astronomical telescopes
  4. Do the following:
        A. Identify in the sky at least 10 constellations, at least four of which are in the zodiac.
        B. Identify at least eight conspicuous stars, five of which are of magnitude 1 or brighter.
        C. Make two sketches of the Big Dipper. In one sketch, show the Big Dipper's orientation in the early
            evening sky. In another sketch, show its position several hours later. In both sketches, show the
            North Star and the horizon. Record the date and time each sketch was made.
        D. Explain what we see when we look at the Milky Way.
  5. Do the following:
        A. List the names of the five most visible planets. Explain which ones can appear in phases similar to
            lunar phases and which ones cannot, and explain why.
        B. Find out when each of the five most visible planets that you identified in requirement 5a will be
            observable in the evening sky during the next 12 months, then compile this information in the form of
            a chart or table. Update your chart monthly to show whether each planet will be visible during the
            early morning or in the evening sky.
  6. At approximately weekly intervals, sketch the position of Venus, Mars or Jupiter in relation to the stars. Do this for at least four weeks and at the same time of night. On your sketch, record the date and time next to the planet's position. Use your sketch to explain how planets move.
  7. Do the following:
        A. Sketch the face of the moon and indicate at least five seas and five craters. Label these landmarks.
        B. Sketch the phase and the daily position of the Moon at the same hour and place, for a week. Include
            landmarks on the horizon such as hills, trees, and buildings. Explain the changes you observe.
        C. List the factors that keep the Moon in orbit around Earth.
        D. With the aid of diagrams, explain the relative positions of the Sun, Earth, and the Moon at the times of lunar and solar eclipses, and at the times of new, first-quarter, full, and last-quarter phases of the Moon.
  8. Do the following:
        A. Describe the composition of the Sun, its relationship to other stars, and some effects of its radiation
            on Earth's weather. Define sunspots and describe some of the effects they may have on solar
        B. Identify at least one red star, one blue star, and one yellow star (other than the Sun). Explain the
            meaning of these colors.
  9. With your counselor's approval and guidance, do ONE of the following:
        A. Visit a planetarium or astronomical observatory. Submit a written report, a scrapbook, or a video
            presentation afterward to your counselor that includes the following information:
            1. Activities occurring there
            2. Exhibits and displays you saw
            3. Telescopes and instruments being used
            4. Celestial objects you observed.
        B. Plan and participate in a three-hour observation session that includes using binoculars or a
            telescope. List the celestial objects you want to observe, and find each on a star chart or in a
            guidebook. Prepare an observing log or notebook. Show your plan, charts, and log or notebook to
            your counselor before making your observations. Review your log or notebook with your counselor
        C. Plan and host a star party for your Scout troop or other group such as your class at school. Use
            binoculars or a telescope to show and explain celestial objects to the group.
        D. Help an astronomy club in your community hold a star party that is open to the public.
        E. Personally take a series of photographs or digital images of the movement of the Moon, a planet, an
            asteroid or meteoroid, or a comet. In your visual display, label each image and include the date and
            time it was taken. Show all positions on a star chart or map. Show your display at school or at a
            troop meeting. Explain the changes you observed.
  10. List at least three different career opportunities in astronomy. Pick the one you in which are most interested and explain how to prepare for such a career. Discuss with your counselor what courses might be useful for such a career.

Astronomy Worksheets for use in working on these requirements

Boy Scout Oath

On my honor, I will do my best

To do my duty to God and my Country and to obey the Scout Law;

To help other people at all times;

To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.

Boy Scout Law

A Scout Is...

A Scout tells the truth.
He keeps his promises.
Honesty is part of his code of conduct.
People can depend on him.
A Scout is true to his family, Scout leaders, friends, school, and nation.LOYAL
A Scout is concerned about other people. He does things willingly for others without pay or reward.HELPFUL
A Scout is a friend to all.
He is a brother to other Scouts.
He seeks to understand others.
He respects those with ideas and customs other than his own.
A Scout is polite to everyone regardless of age or position.
He knows good manners make it easier for people to get along together.
A Scout understands there is strength in being gentle.
He treats others as he wants to be treated.
He does not hurt or kill harmless things without reason.
A Scout follows the rules of his family, school, and troop.
He obeys the laws of his community and country.
If he thinks these rules and laws are unfair, he tries to have them changed in an orderly manner rather than disobey them.
A Scout looks for the bright side of things.
He cheerfully does tasks that come his way. He tries to make others happy.
A Scout works to pay his way and to help others.
He saves for unforeseen needs.
He protects and conserves natural resources.
He carefully uses time and property.
A Scout can face danger even if he is afraid.
He has the courage to stand for what he thinks is right even if others laugh at or threaten him.
A Scout keeps his body and mind fit and clean.
He goes around with those who believe in living by these same ideals.
He helps keep his home and community clean.
A Scout is reverent toward God.
He is faithful in his religious duties.
He respects the beliefs of others.