Excel Breakout Puzzle 6

I think it’s about time for another breakout puzzle … yes! This breakout puzzle has an astronomy theme … you know, stars, constellations, the milky way, telescopes, and so on. I’ve always enjoyed looking up at the night sky. Being able to recognize stars and constellations helps me feel at home when I travel to new cities. And with all of the technology we have today, we are able to see into the depths of the universe like never before. It is so vast, and its beauty is the inspiration for this breakout puzzle. Hope you enjoy it!


Before I get to the puzzle, let me provide a quick background. The escape room trend is sweeping the globe. Here is the basic idea. You and some friends go to an escape room, and get locked inside. You have to look around the room and gather clues to figure out codes to various combination locks. Opening a lock provides access to additional clues, which provide additional codes, and so on. You ultimately figure out the final code used on the door lock to escape the room.

My family LOVES doing these escape rooms together. They are so fun that I wanted to do something similar in my Excel courses. So, I came up with the idea for an Excel breakout puzzle. You basically need to open the Excel workbook and look around for clues. You use your Excel skills to solve the puzzle and reveal the code.

These Excel breakout puzzles are used in the Excel University Graduate Certification program as a fun way to apply what you’ve learned in each lesson.


This breakout puzzle has 3 steps. In step 1, you want to find the 5 digit numeric key that I’ve hidden. You’ll have to use your Excel knowledge to find the key. Once you do, enter the key into the Step 2 sheet to reveal the 5-letter code. To verify that the code is correct, head to Step 3 and enter the code. If it is correct, you’ll be able to use the resulting link to view a fun congratulations page. If you think you are up for it, download the file below:

If you decide to give it a try … good luck, I hope you have fun 🙂


If you solve the puzzle, please post a comment with something like “Got it!” but please don’t post the actual code.

Here are the previous breakout puzzles in case you’d like to check them out:

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Jeff Lenning

I love sharing the things I've learned about Excel, and I built Excel University to help me do that. My motto is: Learn Excel. Work Faster.

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  1. Wayne Edmondson on April 23, 2019 at 5:45 pm

    Got it.. nice! Thanks for the challenge.

    • Jeff Lenning on April 24, 2019 at 9:07 am

      Way to go 🙂

  2. Matt Atkinson on April 24, 2019 at 8:34 am

    Got it 🙂

    • Jeff Lenning on April 24, 2019 at 9:07 am


  3. Laura Lemons on April 24, 2019 at 9:21 am

    Got it! Yay!

    • Jeff Lenning on April 24, 2019 at 9:22 am


  4. Kimberly Hatcher on April 24, 2019 at 1:32 pm


  5. Saskia Jacobsen on April 24, 2019 at 3:08 pm

    Got it, also in The Netherlands!

  6. LEVEQUE Benoît on June 7, 2019 at 9:23 am

    Can’t get it 🙁 Any help please ??

    • BENOIT LEVEQUE on June 10, 2019 at 7:52 am

      Are the icons with the conditional format important ? Thx for your answer, i’m lost

      • Jeff Lenning on July 1, 2019 at 8:33 am

        Hi Benoit … sorry for my delay, it has been a crazy couple of weeks. Here is a walk through of how to solve the puzzle:
        1 – On the Step 1 sheet … the notes for getting the key are designed to get you thinking about stars, and in fact, the first letter of each line creates the word STAR. So, the hint about using the correct set of icons means that you want to apply a conditional formatting star icon set to the night sky, or, the range that is filled black. If you use the star icon set, or any other icon set with 3 icons, you’ll notice that there are 5 columns. The first column has 1 gold star, the second column has 5 gold stars, the next column has 2 gold stars, then 9, and then 1. So, the key is: 15291.
        2 – On the Step 2 sheet … enter the key into the step 2 sheet one digit at a time into the 5 input cells. 1, 5, 2, 9, 1. This will create a line graph with a point on five constellations. Hercules, Cassiopeia, Leo, Aries, and Orion. Since Step 3 is asking for a five letter code, and there are five constellations, you’ll enter the first letter of each constellation.
        3 – On the Step 3 sheet … enter the five letter code: hclao. This will update the hyperlink. Click the hyperlink and you should be taken the to congratulations page 🙂

  7. Drew Franklin on June 16, 2019 at 4:23 pm

    Got it!

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