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Astronomy lab

Monitoring the Moving Constellations

 

Big IdeaSky objects have properties, locations, and predictable patterns of movements that can be observed and described.

 

Goal:  Students will conduct a series of inquiries about the position and motion of constellations using prescribed Internet simulations and learn how different stars are visible at different times of the year in different locations in the sky.

 

Computer Setup:  

 

Access http://www.heavens-above.com/ and

 

a)

Find SELECT FROM MAP link under Configuration and set your observing location and time zone

 

b)

Find  WHOLE SKY CHART link under Astronomy

 

c)

NOTICE that the star charts are set such that north is toward the top and west is to the right, which is different than a map of the United States.

 

Phase I:  Exploration

 

1)

When you first turn on the star map, the yellow dot marking the Sun is probably visible.  If you were to go outside right now, could you see these stars shown on the map?  Explain why or why not.

2)

Which constellation of stars is the Sun closest to?

3)

If you increase the time by one hour, remembering to use a 24-hour clock, toward which direction does the Sun move?    Highlight or underline one:  North     South      East     West

4)

Now, 1 hour later than when you started, which constellation of stars is the Sun now closest to?

5)

If you advance the time to sunset, which constellation of stars is the Sun closest to at sunset?

6)

Advance the time to sunrise, which constellation of stars is the Sun closest to at sunrise?

7)

What generalization statement, in a complete sentence, can you make about how the Sun and the stars appear to move together in the sky?

8)

What is the physical cause of your generalization?

 

Phase II – Does the Evidence Match the Conclusion?

 

9)

Set the star map to noon today.  If you could see the stars hidden behind the brilliantly shining Sun, which constellation of stars is the Sun closest to?

 

10)

Using the sky chart, which constellation of stars is the Sun closest to tomorrow?

 

 

11)

Using the sky chart, which constellation of stars is the Sun closest to one week later?

 

 

12)

Using the sky chart, which constellation of stars is the Sun closest to two weeks from now?

 

 

13)

Using the sky chart, which constellation of stars is the Sun closest to three weeks from now?

 

 

14)

Using the sky chart, which constellation of stars is the Sun closest to one month from now?

 

 

15)

Using the sky chart, which constellation of stars is the Sun closest to two months from now?

 

 

16)

Using the sky chart, which constellation of stars is the Sun closest to three months from now?

 

 

17)

Using the sky chart, which constellation of stars is the Sun closest to six months from now?

 

18)

Using the sky chart, which constellation of stars is the Sun closest to nine months from now?

 

19)

Using the sky chart, which constellation of stars is the Sun closest to one year from now?

 

20)

Using the sky chart, which constellation of stars is the Sun closest to two years from now?

 

21)

If a student proposed a generalization that “the constellations seem to slowly drift westward compared to the position of the Sun, with the Sun covering constellations at a rate of about one per week,” would you agree, disagree with the generalization based on the evidence you collected?  Explain your reasoning and provide evidence either from the above questions or from evidence you yourself generate using the star map program.

 

 

Phase III – What Conclusions Can You Draw From the Evidence?

 

Orion is a prominent constellation visible in the winter time, usually being hidden by the shinning Sun in the summer. What conclusions and generalizations can you make from the following data collected by a student in terms of how the WHEN IS ORION VISIBLE DIRECTLY ABOVE THE SOUTHERN HORIZON?  Explain your reasoning and provide evidence to support your reasoning.

 

Date

Time

above Southern Horizon

Azimuth (west = 270°)

Direction

October 1

5:00 am

180°

South

November 1

3:00 am

180°

South

December 1

1:00 am

180°

South

January 1

11:00 pm (2300 hrs)

180°

South

February 1

 9:00 pm (2100 hrs)

180°

South

Evidence collected in standard time from http://www.heavens-above.com/ for Laramie, WY

 

22)

Evidence-based Conclusion:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Phase IV – What Evidence Do You Need?

 

Imagine your team has been assigned the task of writing a news brief for your favorite news blog about when one of your team member’s horoscope birth sign is covered by the Sun.  Describe precisely what evidence you would need to collect in order to answer the research question of, “Over what precise period of time is my horoscope birth sign being covered by the Sun and is thus unable to be observed?

 

23)

Create a detailed, step-by-step description of evidence that needs to be collected and a complete explanation of how this could be done—not just “look and see when the Sun is nearby,” but exactly what would someone need to do, step-by-step, to accomplish this.

 

 

Phase V – Formulate a Question, Pursue Evidence, and Justify Your Conclusion

 

Your task is design an answerable research question, propose a plan to pursue evidence, collect data using heavens-above (or another suitable source pre-approved by your lab instructor), and create an evidence-based conclusion about some motion or position in the sky for the constellations which you have not completed before.  

 

Research Report:

 

24)

Specific Research Question:

 

 

 

 

25)

Step-by-Step Procedure to Collect Evidence:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

26)

Data Table and/or Results:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

27)

Evidence-based Conclusion Statement:

 

 

 

 

 

Phase VI – SummaryPRINT YOUR NAME

 

28)

Create a 50-word summary, in your own words, that describes which constellations are visible at night and how this changes over the night and over the year. Feel free to create and label sketches to illustrate your response.

 

 

5

 

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