How do astronomers figure out distances to far away objects? And how do astronomers estimate the sizes of planets, orbits, and other galaxies? One of the simplest methods is to use ratios of measurements.
The Telescope Lab is a great way to introduce students to methods used by astronomers to estimate and calculate the sizes and distances. Students can use the lab with inexpensive telescopes, binoculars, or telescope kits that can be purchased from science supply companies.
The entire lab activity can take 90 minutes on a block schedule or 2 class days on a more traditional schedule. It is best suited for physics students but can be adapted for younger grades.
The teacher may choose to make photocopies for students to write on as they go through the steps or may ask students to just use the instructions as they write their data and observations on their own paper or in laboratory notebooks.