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DSST Astronomy Study Guide

Updated: Aug 18



Achieving a high score on the DSST Astronomy Exam can be difficult, but proper preparation is possible.


Our study guide will provide the information you need to know to get you started in the right direction.


Table of Contents

  1. The Science of Astronomy

  2. Cosmic Forces

  3. Celestial Systems

  4. The Science of Light

  5. Planetary Systems

  6. The Sun and Stars

  7. The Content and Structure of Our Galaxy and Other Galaxies

  8. The Universe: Contents, Structure, and Evolution

  9. Life in the Universe

  10. Conclusion

  11. Student Resources

  12. References


1. The Science of Astronomy


DSST Astronomy Exam Outline. The Science of Astronomy: An Introduction  (4% - 6%)
The Science of Astronomy: An Introduction (4% - 6%)

  • The nature of science: Astronomy is the oldest of all the sciences.


  • The way scientists think and work: A brief history of famous astronomers of the past.


  • The history of early astronomy: Early discoveries and methodologies in Astronomy.



DSST Astronomy Trivia Question #186



2. Cosmic Forces


DSST Astronomy Exam Outline. Cosmic Forces: (14% – 16%)
Cosmic Forces: (14% – 16%)

  • Motion: An introduction to Newton's Law of Motion (Force= Mass x Acceleration).


  • Energy: The measure of the capacity of a physical system to do work.


  • Gravity: A natural force of attraction exerted by a celestial body on objects at or near its surface, tending to draw them toward the body's center.


  • Relativity: General theory of relativity is a gravitation theory developed by Einstein between 1907 and 1915.


3. Celestial Systems


DSST Astronomy Exam Outline. Celestial Systems: (9% - 11%)
Celestial Systems: (9% - 11%)

  • The Earth and our sky: The atmosphere and the magnetic fields produced by the North and South poles.


  • The Earth and its moon: The relationship between the two bodies and their physical properties.


  • Time and the calendar: The Earth's rotation and movement around the sun determine how we interpret time.



DSST Introduction to Astronomy Trivia Question #203



4. The Science of Light


DSST Astronomy Exam Outline. The Science of Light: (9% - 11%)
The Science of Light: (9% - 11%)

  • The electromagnetic spectrum: Radiation is energy that spreads out as it travels. The various types include radio, microwaves, infrared, visible, ultraviolet, x-rays, and gamma rays.


  • Measurement and analysis of light: The speed of light in a vacuum is constant. Wavelengths indicate the distance of an object based on the speed of light.


5. Planetary Systems: Our Solar System and Others


DSST Astronomy Exam Outline. Planetary Systems: Our Solar System and Others: (14% - 16%)
Planetary Systems: Our Solar System and Others: (14% - 16%)

  • The contents of the solar system: Our solar system comprises the sun, eight planets, five dwarf planets, and their 174 known moons, asteroids, comets, dust, and gas.


  • How planetary systems formed and evolved: It is believed to be the result of a cloud of gas and dust in space that was disturbed, maybe by the explosion of a nearby star or supernova.


  • Exoplanets: Planets that orbit stars other than our sun living beyond our solar system.



DSST Astronomy Trivia Question #321



6. The Sun and Stars: Nature and Evolution


DSST Astronomy Exam Outline. The Sun and Stars: Nature and Evolution: (14% - 16%)
The Sun and Stars: Nature and Evolution: (14% - 16%)

  • The Sun (Earth's star): The closest star to the sun and the central star of our solar system.


  • Measuring stars' properties: The ingredients that make up the different stars in space.


  • Birth, life, and death of stars: The life cycle of a star and the various stages they go through.


7. The Content and Structure of our Galaxy and other Galaxies


DSST Astronomy Exam Outline. The content and structure of our Galaxy and other Galaxies (14% - 16%)
The Content and Structure of our Galaxy and other Galaxies (14% - 16%)

  • Our Galaxy: The Milky Way contains about 200 billion stars, but most are not visible from Earth.


  • Other galaxies and galaxy clusters: There are billions of other galaxies in the Universe, and all are classified as either spiral, elliptical, or irregular.


  • Cosmic Distances: Astronomical Units (AU) and Parsecs (PC) are used to measure large distances in the Universe.


8. The Universe


DSST Astronomy Exam Outline. The Universe: Contents, Structure, and Evolution: (9% - 11%)
The Universe: Contents, Structure, and Evolution: (9% - 11%)

  • Large-scale structure: The observable, known Universe.


  • The Big Bang: The Universe was once a boiling and dense state that expanded rapidly.


  • The evolution and fate of the Universe: Also known as Cosmology or the study of the beginnings and future of the Universe.


9. Life in the Universe


DSST Astronomy Exam Outline. Life in the Universe: (4% - 6%)
Life in the Universe: (4% - 6%)

  • The extremes of life on Earth: How life survives the extreme environments of our planet.


  • Life in the solar system: Life can survive beyond our planet.


  • Life beyond the solar system: Panspermia is the hypothesis that life exists throughout the Universe, distributed by meteoroids, asteroids, and planetoids.


10. Conclusion: DSST Astronomy


Our DSST Astronomy Exam study guide provides an overview of the key concepts covered on the exam.


The content ranges from early astronomy to the structure and evolution of galaxies and everything in between.


If you want to score well on the DSST Astronomy Exam, you can familiarize yourself with the topics outlined in this guide.


Want to see a few questions related to your Astronomy exam? Try our free practice test!


Good luck!


11. Student Resources


12. References


DSST Astronomy Fact Sheet

DSST Astronomy Fact Sheet
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Download PDF • 465KB

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