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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. This year, they will also be tested on planets, moons, and other things found in our solar system.

Study Guides

Training Videos

    Workshops are available


    Will students need to know the exact number of moons for Jupiter and Saturn? I notice the Solar System - selected topics document is not up to date.

    The number of moons of Jupiter and Saturn has been updated in the "Solar System - selected topics" presentation again, as of Dec. 9, 2023.

    In the past I might have considered asking "which two planets have the most moons?”.   Even with as freqently as this information changes, that is a pretty safe question.   However, I will stay away from that particular question this year.

    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 quarter 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.


    Some resources I am looking at is causing confusion about which stars are part of the constellations. Also, some star charts in the Starry, Starry Night resources seem to be missing part of the constellation when compared to other references I have found. What will the students be expected to know?

    Use the 36-page star charts provided – not anything else you may see online.  The kids will be given a star chart (from the 12 pages that don't have lines or names) with a box around a group of stars that make up a constellation, or an arrow pointing to a particular star or cluster.  They may draw in lines if it helps them figure out where they are on the chart, but they don’t have to.  They will be expected to name the constellation or star or cluster indicated.

    As a first-time coach teaching star charts, it is a little intimidating. Where do I start?

    This topic is covered in a couple of the posted resources.  Check out the 2018 workshop video at time stamp 48:45.  Also see page 19 of the "Solar System Selected Topics" study guide.

    Will the students 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.

    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 asterisms 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.

    Did you not find the answer to your question in the FAQs?

    Ask your rules clarification question here

    Event Supervisor

    Susan Ogden

    Macomb Science Olympiad

    P.O. Box 763, Sterling Heights, MI 48311

    For questions about the Elementary division, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.