John Percy -- Astronomy Education, Outreach, and Communication

Brief Bio of John Percy: john.percy at utoronto.ca.

For a list of some of my recent publications, please see the end of this page.

Here are some documents and links that you might find useful.

  1. General Astronomy EPO Resources

    Astronomy Education Review, a free on-line journal devoted to refereed and non-refereed articles about astronomy education,, including research.

    Astronomical Society of the Pacific, an outstanding source of information and resources for astronomy education and outreach.

    Royal Astronomical Society of Canada is an organization of enthusiastic amateur astronomers (and some professionals like me), founded in 1868, and offering a wealth of EPO programs and resources. They have Centres across Canada. For teachers, I highly recommend SkyWays, a teachers guide to astronomy.

    Free public astronomy tours at the University of Toronto, organized by the Graduate Astronomy Students Association.

    Dunlap Institute: outreach programs, including planetarium programs, ask-an-astronomer, and special events.

    International Year of Astronomy 2009 in Canada: the official site; the site is now an archive only, but it includes the final report, highlighting over 3,600 events, reaching almost 2,000,000 people.

    An outline of astronomy education and outreach in Canada, prepared as a prelude to International Year of Astronomy 2009 by John Percy and others. .

    My draft guide to astronomy education and public outreach programs in Toronto, the GTA region, Ontario, and Canada.

    Teaching and Learning Astronomy: an invited review article by John Percy, on all aspects of astronomy education and outreach, prepared for a conference in Madrid in November 2009.

    Teaching and Learning Astronomy Powerpoint: the presentation on which the article above was based.

  2. Resources for Astronomy Education in School

    Why astronomy is useful and should be included in the school curriculum. From Teaching and Learning Astronomy , edited by Jay Pasachoff and John Percy (Cambridge University Press, 2005).

    Astronomy in the Canadian school curriculum: a survey of its place, across the country.

    Resources for teaching astronomy in Ontario schools, compiled by John Percy for use in teachers workshops.

    Grade Six Astronomy/Space: a teachers' resource for astronomy/space, based on the Ontario curriculum. Developed (and supported) by the Science Teachers Association of Ontario, with support from the Canadian Thirty-Meter Telescope Project, and the Dunlap Institute and the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Toronto.

    Notes for a workshop on grade 9 astronomy for pre-service teachers in the OISE/UT B.Ed. program.

    Grade Nine Astronomy/Space: a teachers' resource for astronomy/space, based on the Ontario curriculum. Supported by National Research Council Canada, Science Teachers Association of Ontario, and University of Toronto Astronomy and Astrophysics.

    On-line version with links of the above .pdf document.

    SES4U: Earth and Space Science: John Percy's comments on the astronomy sections of this Ontario grade twelve course.

    Astronomy across disciplines: suggestions (with lesson plans) about how astronomy can be incorporated into the secondary school curriculum in places other than those where it is explicitly included. Prepared by Karen Craigs as an OISE/UT internship project.

    Curriculum connections between Astronomy and Physics which might be useful in grade 11-12 Physics.

    Curriculum connections between Astronomy and Chemistry which might be useful in grade 11-12 Chemistry.

    Here are some lessons , prepared by B. Ed. student Fabiano Micoli, in which you can integrate the study of the sun into your astronomy course.

    Here are some activities related to light pollution, an astronomical topic with connections to science, technology, society, and environment.

    Globe at Night is a worldwide "citizen science" project is which students can measure and analyze light pollution in and around their community.

    Zooniverse is a set of astronomy-related "citizen science" projects in which students and the general public can participate and contribute to scientific research.

    Suggestions on how to incorporate Galileo's discoveries into your science classroom -- a project of International Year of Astronomy 2009.

    Galileo powerpoint: a powerpoint presentation, accompanying the above resource.

    Enriching your Curriculum with Front-Page Astronomy: a presentation at the 2013 conference of the Science Teachers Association of Ontario.

  3. Resources for Astronomy Education in University

    Astro 101: an excellent article explaining the benefits of engaging students in large introductory courses for non-science students.

  4. Resources for Astronomy Outreach and Communication

    Outreach: How and why to do it, and how to succeed; an article by John Percy.

    International Year of Astronomy in Canada, an overview of achievements, prepared by Jim Hesser and others, and published in the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

    Beyond IYA: an ongoing initiative with an emphasis on reaching youth in communities which are traditionally underserved with respect to science and technology.

    Resources for later-life astronomy learners in Ontario.

    Heritage walk of the University of Toronto St. George Campus, organized by JRP and given, for Heritage Toronto, in 2009 and 2010, and to be given in 2011.

    Heritage Walk Presentation: a profusely-illustrated presentation, based on the Campus and Cosmos heritage walk.

  5. Some Public Presentations (in Addition to the Above) by JRP

    One World, One Sky, One Amazing Universe a celebration of astronomy, culture, and our amazing universe.

    One World, One Sky, the same, without the amazing universe!

    Archaeoastronomy: The Astronomy of Civilizations Past a presentation on archaeoastronomy a.k.a. cultural astronomy.

    Galileo's Legacy: why Galileo was celebrated in IYA, and what has transpired in astronomy in the last 400 years.

    Our Amazing Universe: the universe that astronomers have discovered and studied is just as exciting as the imaginary universe in science fiction and video games -- and it's real!

    The Birth, Life, and Bizarre Death of Stars: an overview of the birth, evolution, and death of stars, including white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes.

    Astrobiology: a presentation on Life in the Universe.

    A Half-Century of Astronomy Outreach: Reflections, and Lessons Learned: my Qilak Award Lecture at the Canadian Astronomical Society conference, Calgary AB, June 6, 2012, and revised in 2014.

    A Half-Century of Astronomy Outreach: an article, published in the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, based on my Qilak Award lecture.

    Misconceptions about the Universe: From Everyday Life to the Big Bang: a tour of the universe, highlighting misconceptions which the public have about astronomical topics. These range from true misconceptions, to problems of astronomical language, to widespread pseudoscientific beliefs, to ones based on a literal interpretation of scripture.

  6. Cross-Cultural Astronomy

    In the industrialized world, we tend to think of astronomy in terms of exciting discoveries about the nature of the universe. But, for most people on Earth, now and in the past, astronomy was important for its practical applications (time-keeping, calendars, navigation), and for its deep cultural connections (determining date and direction, for religious purposes, and questions of the nature and meaning of things that were observable in the sky). "Multi-cultural" astronomy provides a way of connecting with people of all cultures, and of recognizing astronomy's deep cultural roots.

    Teachers' Activities and Resources to multicultural astronomy, published by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, and prepared by Toronto teacher and education researcher Dr. Nalini Chandra.

    Resource Guide to Multicultural Astronomy, published by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, including references on the astronomy of many cultures, including North American Aboriginal cultures.

    Activities and Lessons on multicultural astronomy, developed by Heather Kristjanson, University of Toronto, working with me. These are especially suitable for the elementary level, and for making cross-disciplinary connections with social studies, and arts.

    One World, One Sky: a powerpoint presentation on astronomy and culture.

    Integrative Science: an approach developed at Cape Breton University, and the Mikmaq College Institute, for combining Western and indigenous ways of knowing about the natural world.

  7. Variable Stars!

    My research is on variable stars, stars which vary in brightness. This is the leading area by which skilled amateur (volunteer) astronomers can contribute to astronomical research. The best source of information and opportunities is American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) . Teachers and students: I especially recommend Variable Star Astronomy by which students can develop and integrate their science and math skills, motivated by doing real science with real data.

    Variable Stars: Action in the Sky an overview of variable stars, ways of observing them, how amateurs can help, and how my research students are benefitting from their work.

  8. Recent Representative Publications

    A bi-monthly column in the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (JRASC).

    Percy, J.R. and Leung, H. 2016, Studies of the Long Secondary Periods in Pulsating Red Giants. II. Lower-Luminosity Stars, JAAVSO, 45, 30-35; it can be found here .

    Neilson, H.R., Percy, J.R. and Smith, H.A. 2016, Period Changes and Evolution in Pulsating Variable Stars, JAAVSO, 44, 179-195 (invited review article)

    Percy, J.R. and Deibert, E. 2016, Studies of the long Secondary Periods in Pulsating Red Giants, JAAVSO, 44, 94-100; it can be found here .

    Amaral, A. and Percy, J.R. 2016, An Undergraduate Research Experience on Studying Variable Stars, JAAVSO, 44, 72-77.

    Percy, J.R. 2016, Book Review: Solar Science: Exploring Sunspots, Seasons, Eclipses, and More, JAAVSO, 44, 78-79.

    Percy, J.R. 2015, Spurious One-Month and One-Year Periods in Visual Observations of Variable Stars, Journal of the American Association of Variable Star Observers (JAAVSO), 43, 223.

    Percy, J.R. 2015, Studies of RV Tauri and SRD Variables, JAAVSO, 43, 176.

    Percy, J.R. and Huang, D.J. 2015, Pulsation Properties of Carbon and Oxygen Red Giants, JAAVSO, 43, 118.

    Percy, J.R. and Kim, R. 2014, Amplitude Variations in Pulsating Yellow Supergiants. JAAVSO, 42, 267.

    Percy, J.R. and Yook, J.Y. 2014, Does the Period of a Pulsating Star Depend on its Amplitude? JAAVSO, 42, 245.

    Percy, J.R. and Khatu, V. 2014, Amplitude Variations in Pulsating Red Supergiants. JAAVSO, 42, 1.

    Percy, J.R. 2013. Book Review: Meeting Venus, edited by C. Sterken and P.P. Aspass, JAAVSO, 41, 381.

    Percy, J.R. and Abachi, R. 2013. Amplitude Variations in Pulsating Red Giants, JAAVSO, 41, 193.