Exploring the Universe: Exoplanet Transits

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In "Exploring the Universe: Exoplanet Transits," participants simulate one of the methods scientists use to discover planets orbiting distant stars. Even when a planet is too far away to observe directly, scientists can infer its presence by watching for slight, regular dips in a star's brightness—when the planet orbits between its star and Earth, some of the star's light gets blocked from view. In this activity, participants perform a similar experiment, seeing what they can learn about a hidden object by studying its shadow.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per student

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Model


Materials List (per student)

  • Desk lamp
  • Light box with 16-square grid
  • 1 large, medium, and small cube
  • Canvas bag to hold the cubes
  • Acrylic stand
  • Mystery Objects Data Collection worksheet
  • Pencils
  • Electrical outlet (not provided)


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Astronomy
      • Stars and Galaxies
      • Probes, Satellites and Spacecraft
    • Earth, Moon and Sun
  • Physical Sciences
  • Engineering and Technology


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • National Informal STEM Education Network

Source Collection

  • NISE Network


Funding Source:

  • NASA, NNX16AC67A