Spanish Language Astronomy Materials Education Center

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Book Cover: El Universo a sus pies Book Cover: El Universo a sus pies

Title: The Universe at Your Fingertips

Publisher: Astronomical Society of the Pacific

Suggested reader’s academic level: Junior High and High School

A Collection of Hands-on Astronomy Activities in Spanish from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

Why a Spanish-Language Materials Educational Center at NOAO?

“Where can you find the best advice on the most engaging astronomy-related books and teaching materials in Spanish?”

We are often asked this question in Tucson, Arizona, a city with many Spanish-speaking residents located only 100 kilometers from Mexico. When the staff of the NOAO Educational Outreach Group searched on the web for Spanish language materials in science and astronomy, we were surprised at how few resources were easily found. With assistance from the National Science Foundation, we set out to remedy this situation.

Recent effort by NOAO to develop cross-cultural educational outreach programs between the U.S. and Chile has cultivated some new connections with Spanish-speaking science teachers and district science coordinators in both Tucson and in La Serena, Chile (where some NOAO telescopes are located.) We decided to build on these relationships and programs, and with their help and advice, we have created a bilingual reference to enable educators to find and purchase high-quality materials that have been produced in Spanish. Our main aim was to find first-rate astronomy materials in Spanish, but along the way we found plenty of physics, chemistry, optics, and earth science educational materials too.

The NOAO Spanish Language Astronomy Materials Education Center team is creating an expanding library of reviewed materials and a Web-based catalog of generally available Spanish-language astronomy materials for all grade levels. Published in both English and Spanish, these evolving Web pages are meant to provide a user-friendly way to find grade level-appropriate astronomy education materials. In the next stage of the project, we will work to make our favorite books and best materials easily available through some on-line bookstores so teachers can purchase the best resources efficiently.

To date, we have reviewed more than 200 Spanish language science books, ranging from pre-school to college level textbooks. These reviews are gradually being put on-line in a searchable database. We also plan to explore donations of hardcopy materials to local schools and libraries, where they would be available for check-out.

Work on the project has been done by María de los Ángeles Peña Guerrero and Jessie Aceituno, undergraduate astronomy majors at the University of Arizona; Glenn Furnier, a science teacher at Tucson High School; and NOAO Web Designer Mark Newhouse. NOAO Manager of Science Education Dr. Stephen Pompea ( leads the effort.

Project Goals

  1. The creation of a web resource on Spanish language educational materials that is a valuable and unique national resource for teachers and informal science educators.
  2. A broader participation of Spanish-speaking audiences in astronomy education programs.
  3. Dissemination of project results through presentations at an array of professional meetings, as well as through printed brochures and activities with clearinghouses of instructional materials.


We greatly acknowledge the assistance of Dr. Julieta Fierro Professor of Astronomy at the Instituto de Astronomía, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de México Mexico City, Mexico, and the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, with its premier resource, “El Universo a sus pies,” a collection of hands-on astronomy activities in Spanish.

Funding for the start-up of the NOAO Spanish Language Astronomy Materials Education Center was provided by a grant from the National Science Foundation, with ongoing support via the National Optical Astronomy Observatory.

Stephen M. Pompea
National Optical Astronomy Observatory
950 N. Cherry Ave.
Tucson AZ 85719


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