Astronomy Scavenger Hunt

Start time/end time

Start: July 31st(Weird Worlds Art event at Artisans)

End:    December 15th: (Last scheduled SUSF Event)

This gives participants 137 days to do astronomy challenges.


All ages are welcome to participate, but only ages 6+ can score points on their own activities.


Teams cannot be larger than 6 people. If you feel like you can get more points alone or with a friend, that’s fine, but be aware that you will be competing against other teams.


Teams can get points together if events/activities are team activities. For example, attending an astronomy event is worth 80 points. Participating in the Weird World’s Challenge is 800 points. Let’s say your family of 5 people (over 5 years old) attend an astronomy event. You get 5×80 points (400 points). Let’s say one person does the Weird Worlds Challenge and everyone else helped; you get 800 points. The Weird Worlds Challenge has to be done so that each individual submission is worth 800 points. To get more than that, each individual has to submit their own challenge individually.


A variety of local prizes will be offered to participants, but the team with the most points wins an actual working telescope!


Star Party (80 points)

Attend any star party and get 80 points. The Southern Utah Space Foundation hosts star parties throughout the year. Find a list of our upcoming events here:

Jeremy educating a group on astronomy at three peaks recreational park

Sun Party (80 points)

In the winter, Star Parties get cold and unpleasant, so SUSF turns to hosting Sun Parties in the park. These are on our scheduled list of events, but it’s impossible to predict when the Sun will be active. For this reason, we sometimes have impromptu Sun Parties when the Sun is being very active. You can get updates about when and where we’ll be when the Sun is very active if you follow us on Facebook at


Constellation Explanation (100 points)

Pick a constellation you can easily see from your neighborhood. Research and present to your group on what’s in it! Although a constellation is just an arbitrary grouping of stars, there’s a lot to them.

  1. Choose a constellation. Constellations aren’t the same to everyone. For example, what we see as the Big Dipper (part of the Westerner constellation ‘Ursa Major’ or part of a Bear) was seen as part of a bull in ancient Egypt. In other places, the Big Dipper was seen as a cart. Constellations aren’t “real” the same way stars and planets are. They are pictures in the sky created by our minds and they come from our imaginations. Choose a constellation in the sky – it can be any constellation.
  2. What’s in your constellation? What stars are in your constellation? What about nebulas or dead stars (white dwarfs, neutron stars, or black holes)?
  3. Present your constellation to your group. Or alternatively, write down what is in your constellation. What is cool about it? What’s the most interesting thing in your constellation?


A Very Brief Example:

Constellation: Orion

Other depictions of Orion: Orion is named after and depicted for the Greek hunter. But the ancient Egyptians often depicted him as the god Sah. The three main stars of Orion’s belt have been seen as their own people quite frequently. For example, the old Norse saw them as fishermen.

Interesting things about Orion: Most of the stars in Orion are very bright because they are very large. Almost all of them are blue, except Betelgeuse, which is a red giant and hundreds of times bigger than our own star, the Sun! There’s also a giant nebula in Orion called ‘the Orion Nebula’. It’s way bigger than our Solar System and it’s the kind of nebula where stars are being born. Awww, cute little baby stars!

What’s the most interesting thing in Orion: Probably the star Mintaka. If you look at Orion’s Belt, Mintaka is the 3rd star, or the star farthest to the right in the belt. Although it looks like a single star, there are actually 4 stars going around each other in the system! Imagine if we had 3 more suns in our Solar System. Crazy. We don’t know of any planets in the Mintaka system, but if you lived on a planet going around Mintaka and her sister stars, you’d have 4 shadows, and 4 sunsets, and 4 sunrises. And you’d have to use a lot of sunscreen.

Southwest Astronomy Festival (80 points per event)

The Cedar Breaks National Monument is hosting the Southwest Astronomy Festival in September 2018. Participate in any event at the Southwest Astronomy Festival and get 80 points. Each event is listed on the brochure. For example, you could:

  • Friday: Attend the APEX Space Debates (80 pts)
  • Friday: Attend the Astronomy Extravaganza (each booth/activity worth 80 points, planetarium worth 80 points, star party worth 80 points). Max points: around 400. Have booth hosts sign off.
  • Sat: Attend a workshop (80 pts)
  • Sat: Attend a workshop (80 pts)
  • Sat: Attend solar party (80 pts)
  • Sat: Planetarium (80 pts)
  • Sat: Star Party (80 pts)
  • Sun: Star Party (80 pts)

Total: 960 points (this is around the maximum points you could get for the SouthWestAstroFest)

Weird Worlds Competition (800 points)

The Weird Worlds Competition is just like making a model or diagram for the Solar System, but for other Stellar Systems (exoplanets). The rules are:

  • The system must exist in reality.
  • You have to tell us something factual about your system.
  • One model = 800 points. Teams can submit multiple models, if they are of different Stellar Systems, and only 1 per team member. So a team of 5 could submit 5 different Stellar System models and get 400 points. No more than 5.
  • All Weird Worlds models completed by September 5th are eligible to be displayed in the Southwest Astronomy Festival (Sept. 7-9).
  • Be as creative as you want!

Dark Sky Defender Competition (5 points per bulb)

It’s getting harder for SUSF to do astronomy in Southern Utah. Even with a great telescope, light pollution washes out most of the stars from Cedar City, St. George, and affects even smaller towns like Springdale, Beaver, and Kanab. In order to keep the light on the ground and out of the sky, a light fixture must do 3 things:

  1. Be the right temperature (warmer/orange is better than blue/white)
  2. Be the right intensity (don’t overdo it with the photons!)
  3. Be covered/pointed downward.

For more info on how to do dark sky friendly lighting, check out the IDA’s Lighting Basics:

To compete in this challenge, you must:

  • Take a before picture.
  • Change a lighting fixture/bulb to a dark sky friendly one.
  • Take an after picture.

Wow! All that for a measly 5 points??? Here’s the upside: There’s no limit to this challenge.

Every light counts as 5 points. So let’s say you get your neighbors or extended family to cover their lights – you can easily rack up points. Let’s say you write to a business like Smead or GAF and get them to point their lights at the ground. That’s hundreds of points for an entire building. There’s no limit to this challenge.

While SUSF does encourage polite reaching out to neighbors, HOAs, and businesses to update their lights so they are more efficient and pointed at the ground where we need them, we do not encourage being a pest. Be respectful. Here is a helpful article to get you started:

Engage in an astronomy-related citizen science project (points vary)

With so many probes returning so much data, how can scientists and PhD students sift through all that data? The short answer is: They can’t. They need you! Engage in any citizen science project with an astronomy event and we’ll award you points in the Astronomy Scavenger Hunt. How many points? It depends on the project, but send us a link to the project you are doing and we’ll send you what we think it’s worth in the Astronomy Scavenger Hunt.

Links to get you started:


Volunteer (Points vary)

SUSF couldn’t do what we do without volunteers. If you would like to volunteer and participate in the Astronomy Scavenger Hunt, we can work out the points.



If you believe there is something you are doing or would like to do that falls in line with the SUSF’s Astronomy Scavenger Hunt, please email Andy at and we will work out the points. Like any contest, we want to avoid rewarding participants for already having a leg-up on the competition. We cannot ask kids to do something that could only be accomplished with money or parental help. And items that require a car or expensive supplies (e.g., astrophotography requires a nice camera) should be avoided.

That being said, if you can get to outer space, we will award you 1,000,000,000 points. It wouldn’t be fun if we didn’t have a ‘go big or go home’ category. If you can get to outer space, we’ll give you a billion points. (NOTE: You are ineligible for this category if you are a professional astronaut or Elon Musk).

How to Sign Up:

Email Leesa at and she will send you a sign up form!

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