Star Brightness

Contributor: Rebecca Highland. Lesson ID: 10371

"Star light, star bright . . . " This child's rhyme brings up a good question: How bright are stars? Using video, NASA pix, a home-made brightness detector, and Excel, learn how and why stars shine!


Space Science and Astronomy

learning style
personality style
Lion, Beaver
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5), Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!


Why are some stars in the night sky brighter than others?

Have you ever wondered why some stars glow brighter than others?

Does a larger star always glow brighter than a smaller one? How do stars even glow in the first place? In this lesson, you will investigate how stars glow, why some stars glow brighter than others, and how stars create energy. Become an astronomer as you study the stars using a fact-filled video, star-studded images, and fun activity and project.

1.Watch the Glow On: Crash Course Kids #20.2 video below to learn how stars glow and create energy. Pause the video and takes notes as you watch the video. Use the questions below as a guide as you take notes.

    • What is a star?
    • What is nuclear fusion?
    • What happens during nuclear fusion?
    • What gives a star its glow?
    • What is the difference between true brightness and apparent brightness of a star?
    • What is one of the brightest stars in the night sky? What is its size and brightness compared to the sun?
2.View the diagram of nuclear fusion below. Notice how the hydrogen molecules are smashing, or fusing together to create helium. The energy then travels out towards the surface of the star as heat and light, giving the star its glow.

Fusion Image Source permission of Apogee Ineractive Kid's Korner, PSE&G 

3.View photos of stars taken from the Hubble Space Telescope on NASA Hubble Space Telescope Images. What do you notice about the different stars?

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