School Groups

Explore sky science, light, optics and space exploration.

The Rothney Astrophysical Observatory is not offering in person programming until 2021. We will be opening in stages according to direction from the University of Calgary. We miss seeing all of you under the stars. We will be running virtual observing events. Please see our website for details and updates.

Available school programs

We offer programs for students in grades six, eight and nine. We also offer a senior high sky science program. All of our programs directly connect to the Alberta curriculum. Presentation programs are also offered in the evening. You can book your class or arrange a family night. The cost per student fee is $4, plus gst.

  1. Looking for Goldilocks in the celestial forest

    Learn about our own solar system and compare it to the solar systems orbiting distant stars.

    Sky Science Topic C, areas covered:

    • - Celestial motion
    • - Constellations
    • - Solar observation
    • - Solar system composition
    • - Overview of telescope technology
  2. The one, the only, the original, the moon

    Explore the unique characteristics of earth’s moon including phases, orbit and gravitational effects. Compare and contrast with other moons in our solar system.

    Sky Science Topic C, areas covered:

    • - Phases of the moon
    • - Solar system composition
    • - Moons that orbit other planets
    • - Overview of telescope technology
  1. The science of light

    Investigate the properties of light and discover how light moves through optical telescopes and how astronomers interpret this light. Students will perform experiments on light fixtures, measuring the type of light and the amount of energy consumption with each lamp.

    Light and Optics Unit C, topics covered:

    • - Wave properties
    • - Polarization/polarization
    • - Refraction
    • - Double refraction
    • - Telescopes
  1. Seeing across the spectrum

    Learn about the composition of our universe and the technologies used to conduct the latest research. Students will use a spectrograph, do a spectral analysis of the sun and explore the latest developments with the satellite missions of the University of Calgary Space Institute.

    Space Exploration Unit E, topics covered:

    • - Spectroscopy
    • - Spectrum analysis
    • - Absorption/emission lines
    • - Doppler effect
    • - Communication satellites
    • - Observation and research satellites
    • - Remote sensing and GPS
  2. How far away is it

    Answer the most basic question in astronomical research with stellar parallax and the doppler effect then perform your own measurements with triangulation.

    • - How parallax and the Doppler effect are used to estimate distances of objects in space and determining their motion
    • - The position of objects in space, using angular coordinates

View our frequently asked booking questions here

A group of students.

Conserving the Wilderness of the Night Sky Program

The Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area (ASCCA) and the Rothney Astrophysical Observatory (RAO) are proud to offer the nocturnal skies program for grade six learners. Students visit the Cross Conversation Area to learn about the stewardship of the night sky. On the same day, the students visit the Rothney Astrophysical Observatory to learn about the necessity of dark skies for astronomical research.

The program focus is on light pollution. Animals, humans and plants need dark night skies for health, sleep and brain function.

Program runs from 10 am to 2pm or 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm.

Contact Maureen Luchsinger at for booking information.