Research Project #2: Astronomy in Depth

For this report, you will be writing about a real, specific object or phenomenon in space. Your goal is to discuss it from a scientific standpoint – this is a science report, not a history report, and so be sure to include recent material and real research. Even if you are discussing an object discovered by Galileo, you must include modern research as well.

The report should be submitted in Blackboard (‘Projects’ section) in a Word or Pdf format, at any time before the deadline. It should be no less than 1000 words long, approximately 3 to 4 pages, double- spaced. The late deduction will be 5% per day, up to 1 week after the original due date.

Report Due:

Everything you write must be in your own words - do not copy, and do not quote at all. Your report will be scanned by TurnItIn to ensure originality, and the percentage match should be as low as possible (ideally less than 20%). Review your originality report to ensure that no matches are found within your own written work, while matches in references and titles are not significant.

Topics can be drawn from anything in space, including: planets, asteroids, stars, stellar corpses, nebulae, galaxies, mysterious signals, even properties of the universe itself. It must be a real object, even if we’re not sure what it is. Pick as specific an object as possible – you can’t possibly cover “black holes” to any reasonable extent here, but you could discuss one specific black hole, for example. Do not pick a class of objects – it must be one singular object, with a specific name (no “comets” or “exoplanets” – but you can do a specific comet or exoplanet of interest). The more unique an object you select, the more original your report will be.

Your object of research should be first chosen from a recent publication (see allowed date range below) in a scientific news story published in any popular science news outlet. Some examples of suitable science news sources are:

Allowed dates of news publication: November 14, 2020 to February 21, 2021

(Note: articles chosen outside of this period will receive a deduction.)

You will need to have at least four references listed in the reference list at the end of your report, including at least one that is an actual published journal article. (Tip: many of popular science news sources often will list the original scholarly journal article at the very end of the story.)  Do not quote these references, but when you use their information you must provide a citation in APA style. The reference list should contain all your sources, and all your sources must be in that list (once only – do not duplicate). Do not use the class notes or readings, or Wikipedia, but seek out real verified scientific sources.

Everything must be in your own words. Quotes will directly lead to lost marks, especially if they are copied facts rather than actual statements someone made. If you can’t talk about something without repeating what someone else said, then you shouldn’t be talking about it yet – do more research until you’re ready.

Instructions by Report Section – with REQUIRED headings

Your report should be broken down into the following sections, and these exact headings must be present. Sections can vary in length. Make sure to discuss the science of the object in all sections by synthesizing information from all of your 4 (minimum) reference sources (with relevant citations), and try to discuss things that will challenge you, not just basic historical or observational facts. Material will be judged based on how detailed and accurate it is, and also how original it is (have you found something interesting and unique?).

•  Introduction

Briefly introduce your topic, however you deem fit. Do not tell me a summarized version of

what you will discuss – I already know what you have to discuss. Use this as an opportunity to be a bit creative and personal, do not treat it as padding.

•  Discovery and Observation

When, how, and by whom was the object discovered? What scientific techniques were used to locate it and learn about it?  What technologies have been employed to study it? Was there anything new, unique, or technically challenging about this research process? Note that these questions are examples of what you can discuss; try to add additional questions of your own here as well to show the breadth of your research.

•  What We Know

What is the object like, what are the known characteristics of it? What are some of the most interesting features? What makes it special, or unique, or important? Dig deep into the science here, and do not just list facts – remember to challenge yourself with detailed and complicated information, consider cause and effect, origins of the features, etc.

•  What We Don’t Know

What are the major unknowns of this object? What are the unique mysteries that make it important, and why are they mysterious and hard to solve/understand? What research is being done right now, or being planned for the future? Why is it important or useful that we solve this object’s mysteries, and learn more about it? Try to discuss multiple interesting mysteries. These can be hard to determine, which is why this section tells me if you’ve done good research.

•  Conclusion

Wrap up the report, however you deem fit. Do not summarize what you have written – I just

read it, I don’t need to read it twice. Be creative and personal, do not treat this as filler.


This Report is worth 18% of your final grade, with an overall breakdown of marks for each section listed below.

Introduction/ 1
Discovery and Observation/ 4
What We Know/ 4
What We Don’t Know/ 4
Conclusion/ 1
Writing (grammar, style, spelling, clarity)/ 2
Citations and References/ 2
Total:/ 18

Writing Evaluation: this mark will be given based on grammar and spelling, as well as general level of effort, creativity of writing, and overall style (is it organized; does it flow well within and between topics; are there proper paragraphs?). I also want to see minimal filler – while editing, you should cut any

words or sentences that are extraneous, unnecessary, unimportant, useless, repetitive, or repetitive.

Citations and References Evaluation: four references including one real published journal article are required. There should be a reference list at the back, in proper APA format. Every single fact should have a citation, so I know where you got it (that’s the point of references). Don’t use class notes, readings, or wiki – try to find good scientific sources, and more than just the minimum. When you reference a book or journal, make sure it is referenced as a book or journal, not as a website, even if you are accessing it online (such as via library’s website/login).

See next page for more help with academic writing in general.

SPARK Academic Integrity Tutorial:

Help – Academic Writing

Academic Writing Guide (at the York University Library)

Writing Centre at York University (offering individual writing instruction/tutoring)

SPARK: Student Papers & Academic Research Kit

Help –  General Workshops

Check the York Events page to search for any relevant workshops coming up soon:

Visit the Learning Skills section of the CDC website (including workshops):