Educational Web Sites on Astronomy,

Physics, Spaceflight and the Earth's Magnetism

(For best view, use font "Times" 12 or 14)

    From the same source... "Welcome to my World", a diverse collection of writings.   The home page is   outreach/outreach.htm
          You can download a "zip" copy of that collection (including its home page, a total of 11.6 Mb), at

      These sites were written with several goals in mind.

      First, they try to provide non-scientists with clear explanations and explicit answers about physics and astronomy, in particular in those areas that concern space, which has been my own field of work. Many web pages exist about such subjects, but they often leave the reader no wiser, and at times, more confused. Here you may find straight answers, and the material is self-contained, you need no prior knowledge.

      Second, I have tried to include interesting stories and connections, many from the history of science and of technology. Science has always been closely linked to culture and society, and the historical thread provides both continuity and human interest. For non-scientists, especially ones interested in space and its exploration, this opens a window to a rich subculture of which society is barely aware.

      And for students who might be getting their first look at science, as well as for their teachers, this may provide fresh material on physics, astronomy and earth sciences, with new content and added interest. Most of it is written at the high school level, though parts can be taught in middle school and others would fit undergraduate college. It is an open ended resource with extensions, links and references for the few who wish to explore at a higher level.

      I am a physicist, at the end of a long career in space research, yet familiar with the history of science and with many of the links between science, technology, culture and society (personal details at stargaze/Sstern.htm). I am well aware that most recent graduates from high school lack both the understanding of science and an interest in it. Reasons vary--e.g. rigid and formal curricula, lack of trained teachers, too much memorization, too little new material--but whatever they might be, it seems high time to seek a more fruitful approach.

The URLs:

(1) "From Stargazers to Starships", home page
      The largest of the four, it covers elementary astronomy, Newtonian mechanics, the Sun and related physics and spaceflight. Also included are a Spanish translation, 46 lesson plans, a short but complete math course (algebra + trig + logarithms), teachers' guides, glossary, timelines, 419 answered questions by users (current tally), over 100 problems to solve, and more. The course is described in "Using Space to Teach Physics" in "The Physics Teacher", February 1999, p. 102.

    Teachers interested in applying these web resources in class, in particular "Stargazers," should consult the detailed note of guidance provided for them here.

This site has grown so big that you can now access its 4 main divisions separately:

  •     I.   Astronomy of the Earth's motion in space.
  •     II.   Newtonian mechanics.
  •     III.   The Sun
  •     VI.   Spaceflight and spacecraft

    Spanish home page:
    French home page
    Italian home page (translation not complete):

    (2) "The Great Magnet, the Earth", home page

          This site provides a non-mathematical introduction to the magnetism of the Earth, the Sun, the planets and their environments, following a historical thread. It includes Spanish and German translations, a link to a French (on another server), guidance to teachers (including a detailed outline for use in earth sciences class), glossary, Q&A and a more technical historical review "A Millennium of Geomagnetism" also published in Reviews of Geophysics."etc.

    Spanish home page:
    German home page:
    French Home Page
    "Zipped" condensed version (3 Mb):

    (3) "The Exploration of the Earth's Magnetosphere", home page
          This is a non-mathematical, self contained exposition of studies of the Earth's magnetic environment in space--my own area of interest. It too follows a historical thread and includes a Spanish translation and a French one (partially complete), a guide for teachers, glossary, timelines, a long history article (on a more technical level), an article "Birth of a Radiation Belt", another "Secrets of the Polar Aurora," Q&A and more. This material was described in the article "Space Physics for Poets" p. 38 in the January 1997 issue of "The Physics Teacher."

    Spanish home page:
    French Home Page (partially complete)
    "Zipped" condensed version (9 Mb):

    (4)" All Things Electric and Magnetic ",   overview below,  
              home page    

    A first introduction, for students and interested web users, to the development and history of "classical" electricity and magnetism, covering key concepts and applications. Mathematics is limited to simple algebra and use of sine and cosine, and history serves as guiding thread.

        Sections 1-10 are suitable for the level of 8-10 grade. The exposition ends (mostly) with E&M as it stood late in the 19th century-- as if electricity were a continuous fluid and electromagnetic waves a continuous disturbance.

    "Zipped" condensed version, including a version of 6 concatenated files for those who'd like their own printed version (1.4 Mb):

    Lists of selected questions from users, with answers

    In "Stargazers":
            or stargaze/StarFSubj.htm   (arranged by subject)

    In "The Great Magnet":
            or earthmag/mgQsubj,htm   (arranged by subject)

    In "Exploration of the Earth's Magnetosphere": ,
            or Education/FAQsubj.html   (arranged by subject)

    If any of these is in your area of interest, please look it up. You may also copy the material using the compressed files which are provided. Comments and suggestions are welcome.

  • Author and Curator:   Dr. David P. Stern
         Mail to Dr.Stern:   david("at" symbol)

    Last updated 10-21-2010