Moons of Jupiter

Grades 4—8

Written by Debra Sutter, Cary I. Sneider, Alan Gould, Carolyn Willard, and Edna De Vore

The journey of the Voyager spacecraft in 1979 took our collective breath away. Perhaps no exploration since has so ignited us, or duplicated the mystery and extraordinary beauty of the newly unveiled Jupiter system.

In this astronomy unit, a contemporary journey of discovery and astonishment is launched from the moment students reenact Galileo's 17th-century telescopic observations of Jupiter's moons. After studying our own Luna, for comparison, students observe and record Jovian moon orbits over time and learn why such observations helped signal the birth of modern astronomy. Students experiment to learn how craters are formed, make scale models to better understand size and distance, and take a grand tour of the Jupiter system, as Voyager saw it.

In the culminating activity, the class works in teams to create scientific explorers' settlements on each of Jupiter's moons, using an assortment of common materials. Fascinating background information is provided on the characteristics of Jupiter and its moons, and a visibility chart helps teachers plan or assign Jupiter viewings in the real sky.

A set of overhead transparencies, necessary to recreate Galileo's telescopic observations of Jupiter and its moons, must be purchased separately. The set is available through Carolina Biological Supply Company. To order call 1-800-334-5551 extension 6252.

Comment on this GEMS unit.

Moons of Jupiter

Order online

Ordering information

Literature Connections

ISBN: Grade Level Format Price



5 Activities,
112 pages


Lawrence Hall of Science    © 2004 UC Regents. All rights reserved.    Contact GEMS    Updated December 29, 2020