Astronomy Research Essay Rubric

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    Getting Started:
    First, get to know about your planet. Read as much information about the planet as you can find. Try both the Internet and the library; try the NASA web site, Zoom Astronomy, Nine Planets, a good search engine, an encyclopedia, and individual books on astronomy and the Solar System.

    As you're reading about your planet, take notes on key information, such as your planet's size, temperature range, its position in the Solar System, moons, atmosphere, any unusual features, when it was discovered, etc. A graphic organizer can be useful for this.

    The Structure of the Planet Report:
    Start your report with an introductory paragraph that states the main ideas that you will be writing about. Then write at least four to five paragraphs that clearly describe your planet. Each paragraph should cover one topic (for example, you should have one paragraph that covers the planet's location in the Solar System, how far it is from the Sun, and how long its year is). End the report with a closing paragraph that summarizes what you wrote and learned.

    Finally, cite your references (see the section below on formats for your bibliography).

    Check that your grammar, spelling, and punctuation are correct. Make sure to use complete sentences and write neatly! Define any technical terms that you use. Proofread your report for errors before you hand it in -- do not hand in a rough draft.

    Topics to Research and Include in Your Report:
    When you write your report, try to answer as many of the following questions as you can:

    • The Planet's Name: What does its name mean? Many planets were named after mythological gods.
    • Position in the Solar System: Where is your planet located (for example, Mars in the fourth planet from the Sun)? How far from the Sun does it orbit. Is its orbit unusual?
    • Rotation on its Axis: How long does it take for your planet to rotate on its own axis? (This is one day on your planet.)
    • Size: How big is your planet? How does it rate in terms of the other planets in terms of size (is it the biggest, the smallest)? What is your planet's mass?
    • Gravity: What is the force of gravity at the surface of your planet? For example, what would a 100-pound person weigh on that planet?
    • Orbit: How long does it take for your planet to orbit the Sun? (This is one year on your planet.)
    • Atmosphere: What is the composition of the atmosphere of your planet? Is it a thick or a thin atmosphere?
    • Temperature: What is the temperature range your planet? How does this compare to the temperature on Earth?
    • Composition of Your Planet and its Appearance: What type of planet is it (is it rocky or a gas giant)? What is its internal composition? What does your planet look like?
    • Moons: If there are moons orbiting your planet, describe them and when they were discovered.
    • Rings: If there are rings orbiting your planet, describe them and when they were discovered.
    • How Would a Human Being Fare on Your Planet: On your planet, would a person choke in the atmosphere, be squashed by the extreme gravity, float with ease, freeze, burn up, or something else?
    • Something Special: Is there anything special about your planet? This can often be the best part of the report, taking you off on interesting topics. For example, are there 100-year-long storms on your planet? Are there giant volcanos? Does your planet have a very tilted axis (giving it extreme seasons)? Have spacecraft visited your planet? If so, what have they discovered? Is your planet in an orbital resonance with another body?
    • Discovery of Your Planet: The planets that are not visible using the naked eye were discovered after the invention of the telescope (these are Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto). Tell when your planet was discovered and by whom.

    Citing Your References: When you write your bibliography, list all of your references. Formats for each type of publication follows (there are different formats for different media):
    • Web Site: Author(s) if appropriate. Title of Site or web page. URL of site, date of publication (the earliest copyright year listed).
    • Book: Author(s). Title of book. Edition. Location of publisher: Name of Publisher, year of publication.
    • Encyclopedia:Title of encyclopedia, volume of encyclopedia used. Location of publisher: Name of Publisher, year of publication, pages where the article is located.
    • Magazine or Journal: Author(s). "Title of article." Name of magazine, Volume.issue (date): pages where the article is located.
    Author(s) are listed last name first, first name or initials (as cited in the publication).

    For example: would be cited as follows:

    Col, Jeananda. 1999.

    For more on EnchantedLearning's bibliography and author, click here.

    Another format for Internet sources is as follows:

    Last name, First name of author. Title of Page. Name of the publisher ( in our case). Date the page was created (at Enchanted Learning, this is the earliest date on the copyright notice located at the bottom of each page), Date of revision (at Enchanted Learning, we do not keep track of page revisions).

    Some teachers also request that you include the date of access; this is the date (or dates) that you went to the web page (or pages).

    The Following is a Rubric For Assessing each Part of Your Research Report:

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