Starry, Starry Night

Starry, Starry Night


This event will test students’ knowledge of astronomical facts and concepts relating to the earth, moon, solar system, celestial sphere, stars and constellations, non-planetary members of the solar system.


Event Supervisor: Susan Ogden and Stephen Ogden



 event supervisor info
 Download the current rules here.  
 2017 Head Coach Workshop handout
 Example scoring results from 2017 practice
 Sample test questions 2017
 Samplet test questions 2017 KEY
 Selected topics from workshop from 2015
General glossary 2017
 Glossary for Solar System 2017
 Images 2016-2017
 Useful Online Resources 2016-2017
 2017 Star Charts
 Mission list
 More study material
more event info be careful
 Event Coach Workshop recapbe sure you're using the latest rules
 See the Elementary Workshop List for this season
 Report problems at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.





elem faq button web

Do the students need to memorize facts about planets' size, mass, distance, etc.?

No, the students do not have to memorize absolute sizes and the numbers that describe them.


However, they might be asked about relative comparisons.   For instance, "which planet is the largest?"

When identifying a feature during the Images section, do students need to identify the feature and the planet or moon on which it is found?

Students are not required to identify what planet or moon the feature is on to receive full credit. However, if they can't remember the name of the feature, they may receive partial credit for telling where it is found.

Will "1/2 moon" be an acceptable answer for 1st quarter and 3rd quarter in the moon phases?

The students will need to be more specific. The 1st quarter can be called "waxing half" and the 3rd quar-ter can be called "waning half".

What is included in "mechanics"? Does it include eclipses?

"Mechanics" refers to the way the bodies move in relation to each other, including rotation and revolution. The geometry of eclipses could theoretically fall under this topic; however eclipses questions have their own category in our classification.

Will coaches be allowed to see what the students were tested on during the practice tournaments to help prepare for the regional tournament?

Coaches will receive a score breakdown that lists the general topics and the number of points your team scored for each. For example, Eclipses: 5 out of 18 possible points; or Constellations: 14 out of 23 possible. Information or performance on specific questions will not be reported.

Will the kids be presented with a constellation to trace? How in-depth do they have to go?

As stated in the rules: "be able to identify these constellations and specific stars or star cluster [as listed], on a star chart of any month with no constellation lines visible."


Said another way, if we point to a specific star, or circle a group of stars that comprise a constellation, they should be able to name it with reasonable spelling.  Only the ones listed in the rules.


We won’t draw the constellation lines to assist them, and don't require the students to connect stars in a constellation pattern.  The students may draw constellation lines on the test if they wish.


Are the only images that students need know listed in the posted resources on the MSO website?

For galaxies and nebulae, and for planetary features, the posted materials list every image that the students should know.  

For planets, the students should recognize the primary image from each planet's invididual page of the the Nine Planets website.  

For the images section of the test, the students will be asked for the name.  For images of planetary features, if the student can't remember the name, they will receive partial credit for listing the planet on which it is found.

What is the difference between "The Big Dipper" vs. "Ursa Major", and how does it relate to what the students should know?

Ursa Major is one of the constellations which the students should know.  The Big Dipper is an asterism, which is a collection of stars that has been given another name, and in this specific case happens to be a subset of the stars included in Ursa Major.  Some asterims include stars from multiple constellations.

Students will not be given credit if they substitute the name of an asterism for the name of a constellation.

The glossary says that Copernicus formulated a heliocentric model of the Universe in the 16th century. Didn't Aristarcus propose that idea long before in the 3rd century BC?

Yes, there is evidence that Copernicus' theories built on the prior work of Aristarcus.  Copernicus is included as a notable person in the glossary because he was the first to combine physics, astronomy and mathematics to build a fact-based model of the universe, and changed what people had believed for over 1000 years.