SIG - Boy Scouts of America

BSA Astronomy Merit Badge
Cub Scouts Astronomy Belt Loop and Academics Pin

 
The BSA Astronomy Merit Badge is offered by the Wilderness Center Astronomy Club. Merit badge classes are offered during our public viewing nights (first Friday of the month). Other nights can be arranged. Scouts wishing to pursue and obtain the Astronomy Merit Badge can contact Bill Castro via email (webmaster@twcac.org),  Jeff Brest (listed as Astronomy Merit Badge councilor for Buckeye Council from your Scout Master or the Council) or  Joann Ballbach, Education Director at The Wilderness Center, via email (joann@wildernesscenter.org) or phone (877) 359-5235.

Before you call, Please read the requirements for the merit badge. There are 25 things to do for the Astronomy Merit Badge. Most of it is done on your own at your own home.

Astronomy Merit Badge Requirements - A new version of the merit badge pamphlet for this merit badge.

We will spend some time reviewing the requirements from 7pm until we start our public viewing night at 8pm. At 8pm there is a planetarium show that the scout(s) must attend for an hour. The planetarium show helps with some requirements and it is a requirement as well. After the planetarium show we review and answer any question the scout(s) have about earning the badge. If the skies are clear we will use the telescopes.

To earn the badge they fill out the Astronomy Merit Badge worksheet located at this web page below.


It is basically a take home/open book test. The answers are in the merit badge book and/or available on the internet. The scout(s) come back during next months public viewing night with the worksheet filled out except requirements 4a and 4b. They must do these 2 requirements in front of a counselor at The Wilderness Center:

4a. Identify in the sky at least 10 constellations, at least four of which are in the zodiac.

4b Identify at least eight conspicuous stars, five of which are of magnitude I or brighter,

They are encouraged to use a star map to do this. If the sky is clear we will do this outside under the stars. If it is cloudy we can do this in the planetarium or the scout can return during the next public viewing night and try for clear skies then.

This is considered a medium difficulty merit badge. For some reason scouts not yet in high school find this merit badge very difficult. Scouts in high school find it very easy. I encourage younger scouts to earn this merit badge at Seven Ranges Scout Camp as merit badges are easier to earn at camp. I encourage older scouts to do the harder merit badges at camp (such as the ones required for Eagle) and do this merit badge at The Wilderness Center.



Troop 122, Doylestown posing in the observatory after completing
the Astronomy merit badge.

Requirements were REVISED effective 2013.
Astronomy_2013_WCAC.pdf - Astronomy Merit Badge worksheet in Adobe format. Use this worksheet to answer requirements. Note that this has a different (easier) chart for 6d than the one at the meritbadge site.

Astronomy_2013_WCAC.doc - Astronomy Merit Badge worksheet in Word format. Use this worksheet to answer requirements. Note that this has a different (easier) chart for 6d than the one at the meritbadge site.

Identifying 10 constellations and 8 conspicuous stars (4a and 4b)
This link is a good star chart you can use for this requirement.
http://www.skymaps.com/downloads.html - All sky maps in PDF format

This link is some suggested stars and constellations that are easier to find and see.
amb_planetarium_Sept.doc

When observing and drawing the position of the Moon (6b),
 it is easiest to start just before first quarter Moon.
There are lots of specifics on lunar orbit and phase online.
Here is one example.

http://astro.unl.edu/naap/lps/lps.html

When drawing what you see, do this at approximately the same time of night
(give or take 15 minutes). When making a drawing, draw a line for the
horizon (close to the bottom) and note which direction (N, S, E, W...) it
is. Note on the drawing objects on the horizon like a building, tree...
Note some bright stars and the constellation the moon is in at that time.
On subsequent days stand at approximately the same place and time draw the horizon,
reference points on the horizon, the same bright stars/constellation (if the object is in the same constellation)
 and note the position of the planet or moon amongst the stars/constellation..
You can go online to see a planetarium or star charting program that will
show you the bright stars and horizon for any given night to check your
work.

Here are some star charting sites. They will also show you what time and
where planets and the moon will be visible.

http://www.wunderground.com/sky/index.asp

http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/skychart

Additional Information

http://www.can-do.com/science/moonphases/moonphases.html - Phases of the Moon, shows a diagram of the phases of the moon arround the earth with the sun at the left as shown in the merit badge worksheet.

http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/objects/javascript# - Almanac - Tells when the Sun set, and when does twilight end? Which planets are visible? What time does the Moon rise, and what's its phase? SkyandTelescope.com's interactive almanac answers these and many other questions for every night of the year.

http://www.skymaps.com/downloads.html - All sky maps in PDF format

http://csep10.phys.utk.edu/astr161/lect/retrograde/copernican.html - Planets motion

http://library.thinkquest.org/29033/begin/direct.htm - Direct and retrograde motion of planets.

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/178098/eclipse - Shows Sun, Earth and moon alignments for solar and lunar eclipse

What to expect at a Public Viewing Night - General information about the Public Viewing Nights at The Wilderness Center. Read this before coming to one.

Astronomy Merit Badge Requirements - A new version of the merit badge pamphlet for this merit badge.

Merit Badge Counselor Orientation - Additional information on the Scout buddy system and other scouting links.

Sky and Telescope Magazine - Sky maps and almanac of what's up and when.

What's Up - The What's Up page on this web site has many useful links at the bottom of the page.

Meritbadge.com - The astronomy MB requirements page has many astronomy links.

If you are doing the merit badge and have a question email Bill Castro. (webmaster@twcac.org)
 

Cub Scouts Astronomy Belt Loop and Academics Pin

The Cub Scout Astronomy Belt Loop and Academics pin offered by the Wilderness Center Astronomy Club. Sessoins are offered during our public viewing nights (first Friday of the month). Other nights can be arranged. Scouts wishing to pursue this can contact Bill Castro via email (webmaster@twcac.org) or Joann Ballbach, Education Director at The Wilderness Center, via email (joann@wildernesscenter.org) or phone (877) 359-5235.

http://www.usscouts.org/advance/cubscout/academics/astronomy.asp - Requirements for the Cub Scout Astronomy Belt Loop and Academics pin for Tiger Cubs, Cub Scouts, and Webelos Scouts.


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Last updated August 10, 2013, by Bill Castro (webmaster@twcac.org)