Welcome to AstroCappella!

Science and music. Astronomy and A Cappella. A winning combination!


AstroCappella 2.0 is an expansion of the original, highly-successful astronomy music project by The Chromatics. Our new, multimedia CD plays in a normal audio CD player or in your computer CD drive (MacOS and PC/Windows). The CD/CD-ROM contains:

  • 13 original, astronomically-correct songs spanning the Universe, from the solar system to the edge of space and time;
  • Glossy, full-color 16-page booklet with lyrics and cool pictures;
  • CD-ROM materials including astronomy background information, curriculum notes, lesson plans and activities for each song;
  • Movies, slide shows, Web sites, music videos, and more!

The Rest of the Story

Astronomy captures the imaginations of young and old alike and encourages people to consider deep and far-reaching questions: how did the Universe begin? How big is it? How does the Sun shine? How big is the solar system, and what are the Moon and planets like? What are the stars nearest us? How many stars are there in our Galaxy? What is a black hole? And the enduring popularity of Sesame Street shows that music can make learning fun. Songs can help to explain concepts simply, and provide mnemonics to aid memory. (Perhaps you learned the words to the Declaration of Independence by singing along to Schoolhouse Rock!)

AstroCappella combines the love of music with the love of astronomy. Here you'll find hands-on activities that you can do in the classroom, coupled with rocking, high-energy songs written and performed by an established vocal band, The Chromatics, professionally recorded and produced.

Your CD is one of the most innovative uses of music for science education. The information in the songs elevates the level of understanding for some very complicated concepts in astronomy for middle school students. The activities are also outstanding that accompany the songs. Thank you for giving me an effective tool to use in the classroom."

- C. Wood, Orlando science teacher

There are many ways you can use "AstroCappella 2.0". The lesson plans can stand alone, helping you teach your students about convection, how radio telescopes and remote sensing work, what the surfaces of our nearest-neighbor planets are like, what scientists learn by looking for X-rays from the skies, and more. Or you can just use the music CD as a starting point for classroom activities. The songs cover the full spectrum, from radio astronomy, through optical observations with the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope, to the powerful pulsars, black holes and quasars of high-energy X-ray astronomy. And they provide a springboard for you and your students to explore the Sun and Moon, the nine planets, and the nearest stars. You can use the songs as a soundtrack to a science skit written and performed by students, as a vocabulary exercise, or as a review tool.

But we believe AstroCappella works best when you use the music and activities together. You might want to begin a lesson by playing a song - say, "Doppler Shifting", discuss it briefly, then turn to the "Here it Comes, There it Goes!" lesson plan on this CD-ROM and work through a hands-on classroom activity that vividly demonstrates how the Doppler shift works. You can discuss how scientists use the Doppler shift to understand our Galaxy and universe, and end the lesson by replaying the song. The second time around, the students will understand the lyrics much more completely, and perhaps leave the classroom humming "Blueshifts come, and redshifts go...."

I have not stopped playing the CD since it arrived this afternoon. I have just started a Radio Astronomy course with our postgrad students and will play them "Cosmic Radio Show" in their lecture tomorrow. It neatly summarises what I tried to convey in today's lecture!

- Dr. J.L. Jonas, Rhodes University, South Africa

The planets, stars, and galaxies may seem far away to your students, but AstroCappella brings them down here to Earth. The classified section of a newspaper can show students how scientists count the stars in our Galaxy. Convection in the Sun can be demonstrated by taking a look at convection in a bowl of Miso soup. You can show how a radio telescope works using a microphone and an umbrella. You can build a comet in your classroom, or make an edible scale model of the solar system. And you can show how engineers protect delicate instruments (or humans!) landing on another planet by trying to land an egg safely in the classroom.

In addition to the lesson plans, the "AstroCappella 2.0" CD-ROM also contains: background materials on all the songs, with lots of interesting images; fun activities - puzzles and quizzes - for use in the classroom; powerpoint presentations; and even some music videos of The Chromatics performing some songs live!

We would also like to encourage you to share the AstroCappella material with your music department. (We hope to be able to provide vocal arrangements of all the AstroCappella songs soon. Please let us know if you'd be interested to receive information about sheet music.) Since science and music are inter-related, this can be an opportunity to teach both.

We welcome your feedback on the project and your experiences with it; write to us by paper mail or e-mail.

We hope you find AstroCappella useful and fun!

-Alan Smale & Padi Boyd