Skip to main content
Astronomy Matters for Chemistry Teachers
Journal of Chemical Education (1996)
  • Terry L. Smith, University of North Florida
  • Jay S Huebner
  • Robert A Vergenz

The purpose of this paper is to encourage more chemistry teachers to become familiar with some of the basic ideas described in typical introductory astronomy courses (1 - 9), including those about the origin of elements and forms of matter. These ideas would enrich chemistry courses and help resolve some basic misconceptions that are expressed in many introductory texts (10 - 16) and journal articles for chemistry teachers (17, 18). These misconceptions are typified by statements such as "we can classify all substances as either elements or compounds," and "nature has provided 92 elements out of which all matter is composed." If students accept these misconceptions, they could be deprived of (i) an appreciation of the history of elements and knowing that the elemental composition of the universe continues to evolve, (ii) knowing that of the first 92 elements in the periodic table, technetium and promethium do not occur naturally on Earth, and (iii) understanding that there are forms of matter other than elements and compounds. This paper briefly explores these ideas.

  • Introductory Chemistry; Astrochemistry; Astronomy; education
Publication Date
November, 1996
Publisher Statement

Published in Journal of Chemical Education, Nov. 1996.

Citation Information
Terry L. Smith, Jay S Huebner and Robert A Vergenz. "Astronomy Matters for Chemistry Teachers" Journal of Chemical Education Vol. 73 Iss. 11 (1996)
Available at: