Observing the tuesday night sky
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Observing the Tuesday night sky. Engage: Use the Big Dipper to find the North Star, Arcturus , Cassiopeia. Find Summer Triangle, Milky Way. Explore: Students make a sample observation of a two fist by two fist section of the sky that contains a bright star. Compare entries with a neighbor.

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Observing the tuesday night sky
Observing the Tuesday night sky

  • Engage: Use the Big Dipper to find the North Star, Arcturus, Cassiopeia. Find Summer Triangle, Milky Way.

  • Explore: Students make a sample observation of a two fist by two fist section of the sky that contains a bright star. Compare entries with a neighbor.

    • As a class, brainstorm characteristics of an effective sky observation and an effective notebook entry.

  • Explain: Outline Earth’s two main motions (rotation and revolution) and how those affect observations

    • Review the use of a planisphere (star wheel)

    • Practice using a star wheel

  • Elaborate: Outside naked eye observations using star wheel as a map

    • Telescope observations of Jupiter, Jupiter’s moons (Europa, Ganymede, Callisto), Neptune. Three of Jupiter’s moons and Neptune contain solid and maybe liquid water

  • Evaluate: Use star wheel to identify two objects in the sky chosen by the instructor.


Layout of an observation entry
Layout of an observation entry

  • Heading for each entry should include

    • Date and time

    • Location

    • Sky and weather conditions

  • Sketch observation on a grid with the x-axis being the horizon and the y-axis being the altitude.

  • Measure height above the horizon (altitude) and degrees from compass direction in fists. A closed fist held at arm’s length subtends an angle of about 10 degrees from top to bottom.

  • Add other interesting items and facts to your entry.


Using the planisphere star wheel
Using the planisphere (star wheel)

To find the rising or setting time of a star

  • Locate the star on the planisphere.

  • Rotate the dial so the star is touching the eastern half (rising) or western half (setting) of the planisphere.

  • Find the date in question on the planisphere.

  • Read the time that that date is lined up with. (If daylight savings time is in effect, you’ll need to add an hour to the time you read.)

  • Practice question: What time does the bright star in the constellation Virgo rise on March 10?


Using the planisphere ii
Using the planisphere II

To find the sky orientation for a specific day and time.

  • Find the date in question on the planisphere .

  • Rotate the planisphere so the time you want is lined up with that date. (Don’t forget about the daylight savings time correction.)

  • Now, you can look at the planisphere and determine where a star is located on any day at any time.

  • Practice question: When is the bright star in the constellation Leo due south at midnight?


Planisphere practice questions
Planisphere practice questions

  • What time does the bright star in the constellation Taurus rise on May 1?

  • What time does the bright star in the constellation Taurus set on May 1?

  • What time does the bright star in the constellation Bootes rise on October 10?

  • What time does the bright star in the constellation Bootes set on October 10?



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