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Astronomy Merit Badge Activity Planner

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Astronomy Merit Badge
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'Patrol Leader Merit Badge Planning Guide for the Astronomy Merit Badge

*** Activities for the Youth Lead Patrol ***

Exploring Astronomy can be a fascinating youth adventure when done right. Here are a few tips to help the patrol leader get started.

  • Scouts may never add or subtract from the actual merit badge requirements
  • This Planner is only a suggestion of different ideas to make working this Merit Badge both fun and easy.
  • While doing the Worksheet is not a requirement for earning this badge, in many cases it can help you learn key concepts and track your progress.
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A. Make Your Plan

Sample Patrol Activity Flyer
  1. Merit Badge Activity Planning Tips - 14 tips for a successful patrol activity. Read carefully before you start your plan!
  2. Share Your Plan - Meet ahead of time with your patrol, scout leaders, parents and especially with the Merit Badge Counselor. Make changes to the plan as needed.
  3. Prepare Activity Flyer - Keep your fellow scouts informed - events, activities, pre-requisites and more.
Patrol Activity GREAT Awesome MB to work as a patrol / Max Size 12 scouts
Virtual Field Trip FAIR Requires escape from light pollution. Night sky study
Family Activity GREAT Great Family Vacation
Service Activity POOR n/a
S.T.E.M. Activity GREAT Popular Outdoor STEM Activity
Field Trip GREAT Star Party Field Trip
Duty-to-God POOR N/A
MB Day POOR Heavy on night sky study
Overnighter GREAT Star Party Field Trip
Summer Camp GREAT Night sky study - Astronomy Rugged-O


Online Resources

B. Introduction Meeting

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Most merit badge activities do best to have a "introduction" meeting where the patrol can discuss how to get started and to plan out their field trips. Send out the activity flyer in advance to use as an meeting agenda. Your scouts will then know what to expect.

News Flash

C. Homework / Prerequisites

Assign one or more requirements that the scout can do at home, perhaps as a family activity.


D. Study Hall Patrol Night

While some scouts may be adept at self-study, others may do better in a small group setting and taking notes on worksheets. Make an agenda. You can facilitate discussion by asking them why each of the principles introduced here would be relevant. Schedule one or more patrol meetings to work this merit badge.

Pre-Open Gathering Activity

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A gathering activity before the official meeting start is a great way to set a fun theme for the meeting.

  • Review your Solar System

MBC Discussion Group - Night 1

  • Req #1: Discussion - Safety
  • Req #2: Discussion - Light Pollution & Air Pollution
  • Req #3: Discussion - Equipment - Binoculars and Telescopes (Bring equipment or diagrams)
  • Req #9: Discussion - Careers in Astronomy

Discussion Resources:

  • Celestron Sky Maps: Learn the night skies of the Northern Hemisphere with Celestron Sky Maps! This classic collection of seasonal star charts, topped off by a glow-in-the-dark luminous star finder, or planisphere, has been around for years and years! It continues to be so popular because beginning stargazers as well as seasoned amateur astronomers find that this book provides most everything they need to find constellations quickly and delve into seasonal night sky treasures with ease.
  • Astronomy Merit Badge - Slideshare powerpoint presentation
  • Sky at a Glance News - Major celestial events coming up this week.
  • 7 Tips to become a Star Party Star Scout - "Heads Up" from BoysLife.org

MBC Discussion Group - Night 2

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This discussion group may be easier done as part of "star party" (see field trips below).

  • Req #4: Discussion - Constellations
  • Req #5: Discussion - 5 Visible Planets
  • Req #6: Discussion - Lunar and Earth Orbits
  • Req #7: Discussion - The Sun and Sunsports


Discussion Resources:

Astronomy Observation Nights

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Astronomy usually takes several regular nights of observation to complete. The longer the night the more opportunity for observations.

  • Req 4a: Identify in the sky at least 10 constellations, at least four of which are in the zodiac.
  • Req 4b: Identify at least eight conspicuous stars, five of which are of magnitude 1 or brighter.
  • Req 4c: 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.
  • Req 5d: Observe a planet and describe what you saw.
  • Req 6a: Sketch the face of the moon and indicate at least five seas and five craters. Label these landmarks.
  • Req 6b: Sketch the phase and the daily position of the Moon at the same hour and place, for four nights within a one week period. Include landmarks on the horizon such as hills, trees, and buildings. Explain the changes you observe.
  • Req 7c: Identify at least one red star, one blue star, and one yellow star (other than the Sun). Explain the meaning of these colors.

E. Field Trip

The best part of Astronomy is being out in the dark open wilderness, far away from city light pollution and when you look up at the sky - know what highlights to look for. Even with just a basic set of binoculars you can easily find some very unique secrets hiding in the sky.

Star Party Field Trip

You have FIVE OPTIONS to choose from to create your "Patrol Star Party":


Req #8 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:

    • Activities occurring there
    • Exhibits and displays you saw
    • Telescopes and instruments being used
    • 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 a log or notebook. Discuss with your counselor what you hope to observe prior to your observation session. Review your log or notebook with your counselor afterward.
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, a meteor, 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.

F. Extra Credit

While none of these are actual requirements for this merit badge - they are terrific opportunities to show Scout Spirit, Do a Good Turn Daily and to have FUN!

  1. Activity Reflection: Use this meeting for scouts to ask questions and to reflect on what they gained personally from this adventure. You can also have a discussion on what future opportunities are here.
  2. Court of Honor Exhibit: Pictures, handiwork and other memorabilia from this adventure will make for a great presentation at the next Scout Troop Court of Honor.

Special Forestry Field Trips

Watch for any of the following in your region:

  • Mataguay Scout Camp operated by the San Diego-Imperial Council is located in the shadow of the world famous Palomar Observatory. Their astronomy class arranges weekly tours of the observatory. Conditions permitting.
  • Tour Palomar Observatory - The Observatory is home to three active research telescopes: the 200-inch (5.1-meter) Hale Telescope, the 48-inch (1.2-meter) Samuel Oschin Telescope, and the 60-inch (1.5-meter) telescope. Research at Palomar Observatory is pursued by a broad community of astronomers from Caltech and other domestic and international partner institutions.
  • Many BSA scout camps have a collection of astronomy observation equipment.
  • Astronomy Rugged-O : Some scout camps do a rugged overnight campout in away from light sources to create an optimum astronomy viewing experience.

Related Merit Badges

Sometimes it is easier by doing two or more merit badges together as a joint activity: