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GCSE Astronomy

The course is split into two units:

·      Unit 1: Understanding the Universe     This is worth 75% and is assessed externally through a 2 hour exam.

·      Unit 2: Exploring the Universe         This is worth 25% and is assessed internally and requires two observation tasks.

The first unit is split into four topics.

Topic 1 Earth, Moon and Sun

In this topic you study how these three objects interact with each other, including definitions of a solar day, sidereal day and lunar month. You will also learn how solar and lunar eclipses occur and their relative infrequency.

Topic 2 Planetary Systems

In this topic you study the wide range of objects that make up our solar systems and how they have interacted in the past to make our planets as they are found now. You will also discover how models of the solar system have changed over the centuries and their connection to cultural change.

 Topic 3 Stars

In this topic you study a few famous constellations and how astronomers use them as pointers for finding other celestial objects. You learn how astronomers map out the night sky using celestial co-ordinates and put into practice the techniques you have learnt for making observations.

Topic 4 Galaxies and Cosmology

In this topic you study the evolution of galaxies over time and how they interact together to make the different categories of galaxies observed. Finally, you learn how the large scale structure of the Universe provides evidence for its evolution, discussing the different models regarding the Universe’s past and future.

 The second unit requires you to make two observations: one with the naked eye and one with a telescope, binoculars or digital camera. Each assessment is marked across the following areas:


Planning the most appropriate observing programme for the chosen task, including observing sites, times, instruments needed, and the need for any repeat observations.


A record of the range of observations taken, including any drawings of the objects  observed and details of the observing session (for example the weather conditions and location).


The conclusions drawn from the observational data collected, related to the observational task chosen.


An evaluation of the data collected in the observation and suggestions for improvements or extensions to further observations.

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