Telescopes as Time Machines

Source Institutions

Add to list Go to activity
Activity link broken? See if it's at the internet archive
This fun, nighttime hands-on astronomy activity lets learners explore how long it takes for light from different objects in the universe to reach Earth. The activity shows participants the difference among three distance categories: within our Solar System, within the Milky Way, and within the rest of the universe. The PDF contains step-by-step instructions, photos, presentation tips, ready-to-print "Passport through Time" activity handout, and links to background information.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - adult

Resource Type:


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Activity requires access to a telescope (not included in activity cost)
  • copies of "Passport through Time" handout (from PDF)
  • (optional) pencils
  • (optional) completion stickers


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Astronomy
      • Origins of Universe
      • Stars and Galaxies
    • Solar System
  • Physical Sciences
    • Vibration and Waves
  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
      • Units of Measurement
      • Rate
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • The Scientific Worldview

Informal Categories

  • Outdoor Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access