Return to Astronomy Merit Badge Page



Please arrive with ample time prior to the start time of your class for registration.  Remember there will be others checking in as well and depending on the size of the class and the event the class is being held in conjunction with that registration may take a little time.

You should bring a blue card filled out properly for this class. (Scoutmaster Bucky Online participants - you should have forwarded your Blue card to Scoutmaster Bucky prior to the class via email or postal mail Scoutmaster Bucky - 5724 Aldrich Avenue South  Minneapolis, Minnesota  55419.) If you are not familiar with how to fill out a blue card, you should familiarize yourself with Scoutmaster Bucky's "How To Fill Out A Blue Card" document. Click here for Scoutmaster Bucky's "How To Fill Out A Blue Card".  Remember it is a Scout's responsibility to take care of their own blue card from beginning to end.

Your Scout Uniform is required to be worn for attending this Merit Badge session.   If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact Brian Reiners; Scoutmaster Bucky via email or on the phone at 612-483-0665.

Reviewing the merit badge pamphlet PRIOR to attending and doing preparation work will insure that Scouts get the most out of these class opportunities. The merit badge pamphlet is a wealth of information that can make earning a merit badge a lot easier. It contains many of the answers and solutions needed or can at least provide directions as to where one can find the answers.  It is NOT acceptable to come unprepared to a Scoutmaster Bucky event.

You can (and should) use the Scoutmaster Bucky Astronomy Merit Badge Workbook to help get a head start and organize your preparation work. You can download the Scoutmaster Bucky Astronomy Merit Badge Workbook by clicking here.  If this link is not working please check the internet for other merit badge workbook options.

It should be noted that this merit badge class is not meant for those who just want to come and see what they can get done. It is possible to complete this merit badge by being properly prepared and having done the preparation work prior to the class. Preparation is a MUST.





Things to remember to bring for this Merit Badge Class:

1. Merit Badge Blue Card properly filled out and signed off by your Scoutmaster

2. Astronomy Merit Badge Pamphlet

3. Scout Uniform

4. Supporting documentation or project work pertinent to this merit badge which may also include a Merit Badge Workbook for reference with notes

5. A positive Scouting focus and attitude

Following is an outline of the class to help you prepare.  Note that Scouts will be signed off only on those requirements that the Merit Badge Counselor determines meets the requirements; no more no less  This Merit Badge should not be expected to be earned without preparation and work


1. Do the following:

a. Explain to your counselor the most likely hazards you may encounter while participating in astronomy activities, and what you should do to anticipate, help prevent, mitigate, and respond to these hazards.

It should go without saying that Scouts should review the merit badge pamphlet for this requirement as all the required knowledge and recommendations will be found within the contents of the Merit Badge Pamphlet for this requirement. It is strongly recommended that Scouts make notes of their findings by either marking their pamphlet or making notes on their Merit Badge Workbook for easy reference when explaining their findings to the counselor and/or class.

b. Explain first aid for injuries or illnesses such as heat and cold reactions, dehydration, bites and stings, and damage to your eyes that could occur during observation.

Most of the injuries and illnesses listed in this requirement are recurring throughout a Scout's journey through rank and merit badges.  Newer Scouts may need to spend more time than more advanced Scouts on this requirement.  Scouts who are first class and above should find this a review of common first aid ailments and responses. Regardless, do not take this requirement for granted as most counselors will still want to validate that you remember and understand the details of this requirement.  Be sure to follow the Boy Scout Motto and "Be Prepared" to explain your knowledge for consideration of completion on this requirement.

c. Describe the proper clothing and other precautions for safely making observations at night and in cold weather. Then explain how to safely observe the Sun, objects near the Sun, and the Moon.

There are two parts to this portion of requirement 1c.  Both parts can be found by reviewing the Merit Badge Pamphlet.  It is recommended that Scouts make notes of their findings and be prepared to share their results during the class.  The first part of the requirement deals with the clothing and equipment necessary for cold weather and night time observations while the second part of the requirement specifically deals with the methods and equipments for safe observations of or around the Sun.


2. Explain what light pollution is and how it and air pollution affect astronomy.

This requirement can easily be prepared for through the reviewal of the Merit Badge Pamphlet.  All the necessary information and explanation can be found in the pamphlet for preparing for completion of this requirement.  Finding the information however is only a part of the requirement.  Scouts must actively be ready and successfully explain what is asked for in this requirement during the class in order to be considered for completion of this requirement.


3. With the aid of diagrams (or real telescopes if available), do each of the following:

It is preferred that Scouts having their own binoculars and/or telescope (if practical) bring their equipment for use and demonstration during the class.  Please note that it is the Scout's responsibility to manage and maintain their personal equipment and any damage or loss of these items is strictly the Scouts responsibility.

a. Explain why binoculars and telescopes are important astronomical tools. Demonstrate or explain how these tools are used.

Half of this requirement can easily be discovered and understood through the reviewal of the appropriate section of the Merit Badge Pamphlet.  Scouts should be sure to have reviewed this section and be prepared the best way they can to explain their findings.  If the Scout does not have a set of binoculars, there will be a pair for demonstration purposes available during the class to fulfill the second part of this requirement component.

b. Describe the similarities and differences of several types of astronomical telescopes, including at least one that observes light beyond the visible part of the spectrum (i.e., radio, X-ray, ultraviolet, or infrared).

Scouts will find all they need to know to complete this requirement by reviewing the Merit Badge Pamphlet.  The Counselor for the class will assist in further understanding through sharing of knowledge to ensure the Scout has a complete understanding in order to complete this requirement.  The Counselors known expertise for this requirement should NOT be a reason Scouts minimize the importance of researching this requirement.  Scouts still need to show that they have a basic understanding through their preparation work in order to be considered for completion of this requirement.

c. Explain the purposes of at least three instruments used with astronomical telescopes.

While there are many more than three instruments used with telescopes, Scouts should be prepared to share their understanding of at least three as the requirement states.  The Counselor will help facilitate and explanatory discussion with all Scout participants in the class to complete this requirement.  Active participation in this discussion is required and only Scouts who have come prepared AND actively participate in the discussion will be able to complete this requirement.

d. Describe the proper care and storage of telescopes and binoculars both at home and in the field.

While the Counselor will cover important point for this requirement in the class, it is the Scout's responsibility to review the Merit Badge Pamphlet ahead of time to have a basis in which they can share their understanding of this requirement. Only Scouts that actively participate in the discussion AND show they have reviewed the materials prior to the class will likely be able to complete this requirement.


4. Do the following:

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

b. Identify at least eight conspicuous stars, five of which are of magnitude 1 or brighter.

Because the class will take place during daylight hours, this requirement will be difficult for Scouts to complete at or during the class.  Scouts should come to class with notes, drawings, sketches, or other documentation showing that they have observed the night skies and identified 10 constellations along with at least 8 stars of which 5 are of magnitude 1 or brighter (check you Merit Badge Pamphlet for explanation and guidance).   The easiest way to do this is to record the date and time of the observation and describe the location of the constellation or star as it appears in the sky.  Note:  Stars and Constellations move about the sky depending on time of year and time of night they are observed, so the tracking of date and time of the observation is crucial.  Many online resources are available to aid in the identification of these stars and constellations through out the year.  Drawing the constellation as it appears during your observation in the sky may be helpful as well.  It must also be noted that just saying you have done these two components of requirement 4 will NOT be enough to be signed off during the class.  You must provide some sort of supporting documentation to the counselor to show that you have worked on and met the expectations of these components of Requirement 4a and 4b.

c. Make two sketches of the Big Dipper. In one sketch, show the Big Dipper's orientation in the early evening sky. In another sketch, show its position several hours later. In both sketches, show the North Star and the horizon. Record the date and time each sketch was made.

This requirement is pretty clear on its expectations.  Like in Requirements 4a and 4b, you will not be able to complete this requirement during the class and preparation ahead of time is the only way you will be able to have the opportunity to be signed off on this during the class.  You will need to do as the requirement states and make two sketches.  It is vital to make sure you record the date and time of your observation for the counselor to validate the accuracy of your sketches.

d. Explain what we see when we look at the Milky Way.

This requirement is a bit of fact and opinion.  The Merit Badge Pamphlet is a good place to start for the factual information of what we see.  Use this information to make your own observation in the night skies and be prepared to share your thoughts and interpretations during the class of what you saw.


5. Do the following:

a. List the names of the five most visible planets. Explain which ones can appear in phases similar to lunar phases and which ones cannot, and explain why.

b. Using the Internet (with your parent's permission) and other resources, find out when each of the five most visible planets that you identified in requirement 5a will be observable in the evening sky during the next 12 months, then compile this information in the form of a chart or table.

c. Describe the motion of the planets across the sky.

d. Observe a planet and describe what you saw.

While most of the parts of this requirement will be covered during the class, Scouts are urged to arrive having reviewed the Merit Badge Pamphlet and ideally having notes to reference for completion of this requirement. As expected, active participation in class discussion will be expected in order to ensure completion of this requirement.


6. Do the following:

a. Sketch the face of the moon and indicate at least five seas and five craters. Label these landmarks.

b. Sketch the phase and the daily position of the Moon at the same hour and place, for four days in a row. Include landmarks on the horizon such as hills, trees, and buildings. Explain the changes you observe.

c. List the factors that keep the Moon in orbit around Earth.

d. With the aid of diagrams, explain the relative positions of the Sun, Earth, and the Moon at the times of lunar and solar eclipses, and at the times of new, first-quarter, full, and last-quarter phases of the Moon.

Requirement 1b will require some pre-work prior to the class in order for consideration of completing all the components of this requirement.  Scouts will need to make observations for four days as the requirement states and produce sketches of their observations.  Please be sure to give yourself plenty of time as some night may be overcast and observation may not be possible requiring more than four consecutive days to complete this requirement.  Non-observable nights do not count in the completion of this part of the requirement.

Requirements 6a, 6c, and 6d will be covered in the class, however Scouts are still expected to arrive prepared to share their finding for these requirements.  Active participation in the class will help the Counselor to determine those Scouts that have prepared and warrant completion of these part of Requirement 6.


7. Do the following:

a. Describe the composition of the Sun, its relationship to other stars, and some effects of its radiation on Earth's weather and communications.

b. Define sunspots and describe some of the effects they may have on solar radiation.

c. Identify at least one red star, one blue star, and one yellow star (other than the Sun). Explain the meaning of these colors.

Scouts will find the Merit Badge Pamphlet to be a great resource with all they need to prepare for completion of this requirement.  It is strongly recommended that Scouts utilize a Merit Badge Workbook to record their findings and notes for easier reference during the class when they will be expected to share their results with the Counselor and/or class participants.  Only those Scouts having prepared for this requirement AND actively participating in the class discussion will be considered for completion of this requirement.  Be sure to prepare for all components of this requirement.


8. With your counselor's approval and guidance, do ONE of the following:

a. Visit a planetarium or astronomical observatory. Submit a written report, a scrapbook, or a video presentation afterward to your counselor that includes the following information.

1. Activities occurring there

2. Exhibits and displays you saw

3. Telescopes and other instruments being used

4. Celestial objects you observed

b. Plan and participate in a three-hour observation session that includes using binoculars or a telescope. List the celestial objects you want to observe, and find each on a star chart or in a guidebook. Prepare an observing log or notebook. Show your plan, charts, and log or notebook to your counselor before making your observations. Review your log or notebook with your counselor afterward.

c. Plan and host a star party for your Scout troop or other group such as your class at school. Use binoculars or a telescope to show and explain celestial objects to the group.

d. Help an astronomy club in your community hold a star party that is open to the public.

e. Personally take a series of photographs or digital images of the movement of the Moon, a planet, an asteroid, meteor, or a comet. In your visual display, label each image and include the date and time it was taken. Show all positions on a star chart or map. Show your display at school or at a troop meeting. Explain the changes you observed.

This requirement will NOT be covered during the class.  HOWEVER, Scouts, who have selected one of these options to complete for this requirement, will have an opportunity to share their work during the class for consideration by the counselor for sign off.  Please remember that any and all requirements, for any merit badge are signed off ONLY at the discretion and satisfaction of the merit badge counselor that the requirement has met THEIR interpretation of the requirement.


9. Find out about three career opportunities in astronomy. Pick one and find out the education, training, and experience required for this profession.  Discuss this with your counselor, and explain why this profession might interest you.

Scouts should review this requirement and its components and be prepared to discuss. It is strongly recommended that Scouts bring any notes or supporting documents they may have to help show the counselor that they have prepared for completion of this requirement.


this page last reviewed and updated - December 2015