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General Overview

The NAAP project provides not only an astronomy simulator, but several accompanying materials. Below is a description of the standard materials for each module and recommended use. A summary of the topical content of the simulators is given on the lab descriptions page.

How to Use

The recommended sequence for first time use of a module is:

  1. Read the background pages.
  2. Download and print the student guide.
  3. Follow the student guide.


By default, the links open the linked-page in the same browser window. In most browsers, a right click on the link will open a context menu with the option “Open [Link] in New Window” or for tab enabled browsers, the additional option to open the link in a new tab.

The right click context menu usually also has the option “Save [Link/Target] As…” to save the links target to the computer. This may sometimes be useful for the pdf, doc, or swf files.

Student Guide

A student guide is provided to walk users through their first use of a simulator. It has questions related to the background material (see below), suggestions to encourage meaningful exploration of the simulator's functionality, and questions to facilitate understanding. Some instructors may require student guides to be handed in.

Student guides are provided in pdf format and a program is needed to read the file. It is usually already present on most computers. If not, a free pdf reader (Acrobat Reader) is available to download.

Background Materials

Each module has online background pages. They are designed to provide a review of the basic information necessary to get the full educational impact of the simulators. Users are highly encouraged to explore the pages before using that module's simulator for the first time. Some of the background pages may have small simulators to address a specific idea. Their computer requirements are the same as the main simulator.


The NAAP simulators are written in Adobe Flash. To use the simulators, one must have the Flash Player installed. The player is available on all major platforms.

While most users will encounter the simulators first as a student, they can be accessed freely over the internet at any time. Share them with friends interested in astronomy!