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Frostburg State Planetarium presents Nov-Jan. Sky Sights for Middle School & Intermediates by Dr. Bob Doyle Next Edition: Early Jan.’10
Big Topics Treated • Horizon, Finding directions, Sunrise/Sunset • How Day Sky Works, Twilight AM & PM • Moon basics, It’s Origin Why it’s varying shapes? • Bright points seen at night? Easy Nov.Jan.Planets • Best Stars & Star Groups Seen Nov.Jan. Evenings • 3 Built in Mini Quizzes with answers supplied • Nov.Jan. Moon Schedule, Planet & Star tables • Nov.Jan. Planetarium Schedule & related info
Horizon & Directions • When looking at sky, we may view ½ of universe! • Horizon surrounds us, the sky/ground boundary • At top of sky is zenith, 90 degrees from horizon • From North to right, East, then South and West. • Sun rises in ESE, face sunrise, to left is North • Noon shadows point N (for E. Standard time) • Sun sets in WSW, face sunset, to right is North • Can use Big Dipper’s pointers to find N. Star
Sunrise & Sunsets? • Earth’s daily rotation makes it look as if sun rises each morning & sets each afternoon • Time of sunrise, sunset varies thru year • Earliest sunrise & latest sunset in late June • Latest sunrise & earliest sunset in late Dec. • Longest days when sun highest, farthest N • Shortest days when sun lowest, farthest S • Change in sunrise/sunset time less near equator • Change in sunrise/sunset time grows near poles
Let’s review these ideas • What point in sky is farthest from horizon? • Is it Celestial Pole? Zenith? Nadir? • Which direction recipe WON’T work? • S. Side of tree with moss? Shadow in mid day? • Place where biggest changes with seasons? • Polar Regions? Mid Latitudes? Equator? • Write down your answers for these questions. • Answers: Zenith, Mid day shadow, Polar regions
Interesting facts about day sky • Noon sun million x brighter than full moon • Day Sky max. polarization 90 deg. from sun • Maximum sunlight energy in early summer • Sun peaks mid day (Noon Standard time) • Minimum sunlight energy start of winter • To find North, face where sun goes down and extend your right arm out, points North.
Twilight or Dusk? • When sun disappears from our view, the air overhead is still ‘seeing’ sun and glowing. • When sun 6 dg. below horizon, turn on lights • When sun 18 dg. below horizon, sky darkest • To see faint star groups, sun must be 12 dg. below • Arctic Circle cities have no darkness in June • Equatorial places have shortest twilights • Our twilights last 90 minutes at dusk & at dawn
What about Moon? • Our moon is 2160 miles across, ¼ Earth’s width • Moon ¼ as big as Earth; if Earth a regular globe (1 ft.wide), moon is a tennis ball, 30 ft. away • As Earth-moon distance about 30 x Earth’s width. • As Earth, Moon lit by sun with day & night halves • As Moon orbits Earth, see varying part of day side • After line up with sun, moon waxes (grows) 15 d • After full moon, moon wanes (shrinks) 15 days • Moon phase cycle 29.5 dy, approx. month length
Just a little bit more about Moon • Moon rocks reveal moon matter from Earth! • Moon due to planets colliding, debris hurled • Moon formed from ring of orbiting debris • Early moon closer, much stronger tides • Moon slowly spiraling out, lengthen our day • Earth has 1st natural moon from sun, 6th largest moon in solar system
Another review of ideas.. • As you face sunset, what points North? • Back of Head? Right arm (out)? Left ear? • If Earth 1 ft. wide, how far away is moon? • Is it 10 feet? 30 feet? 100 feet? 300 feet? • How long does moon ‘grow’ or ‘shrink’? • Is it A week? A half month? A month? • Write down your answers to above 3 questions. • Answers: Right arm (out), 30 feet, A half month
Bright points we see at night? • Even the nearest planets appear as * (points) as we see them with our eyes; for even these objects far away, Venus at closest 100x farther than our moon • To tell a planet from a star, all night stars twinkle and planets usually shine steady. • Also satellites (especially Space Station) shine steadily as creep eastward across sky • Night stars are distant suns, really, really far away compared to our planet neighbors. • If Earth penny size, moon 22” away, sun 730 ft. away (6.3 ft. wide), nearest star is 37,000 mi.away
Nov.Jan. Planets • Evenings, Jupiter very bright steady point • Moon near Jupiter 11/23, 12/21 & 1/17 • First number is month number / 2nd is date • Venus very bright at dawn, slowly dropping • Moon near Venus 11/15, by Dec. Venus gone • As Venus lowers, Mars higher & brighter • Mars late evening sky in East in Nov., rises earlier each week, well seen by 9 pm in December, then seen as soon as it gets dark in late January
Nov.-Jan. Stars & Groups • Big Dipper low N, steadily improves each month • Rightmost Dipper * point to North Star. • Cassiopeia, high in North, resembles a “M” • In NE bright star Capella and 7 Sisters star cluster • Late Nov. evenings see Orion with 3 star belt • Orion better in Dec., resembles tilted hour glass • On Jan. even., Orion’s 3 star belt points to Sirius, night’s brightest star that’s also close (9 lt.yrs.)
Let’s review once more… • What planet is now prominent in the evening sky? • Is it Venus? Mars? Jupiter? Saturn? • When closest, bright planet is lost in sun’s glare? • Is it Venus? Mars? Jupiter? Saturn? • Which night star is the brightest? • Capella or Vega or Sirius • Write down your answers • Answers: Jupiter, Venus, Sirius
Nov.Jan. Moon Schedule • Early Nov: Full 11/2, much even. moonlight • Mid Nov: Dawn crescent moon • Late Nov: Growing evening moon & Jupiter • Early Dec: Full on 1st, then drifts into morning • Late Dec: Growing even.moon&Jupiter, 12/31 full • Early Jan: After few days, Moon into morn.sky • Rest of Jan: Moon in W dusk & Jupiter on 1/17, ½ full on Jan.22 and onto full on Jan. 29 • Dates change from yr to yr, lunar month = 29.5 d.
Nov.Jan. Planet Schedule • Nov: Jupiter in SW dusk, Mars in E in late even. Venus in Nov. very low in E dawn, Saturn higher • Dec: Jupiter low in SW dusk, Mars low in E 9 pm, Mercury seen low in W dusk from mid to late Dec • Jan: Jupiter even lower W dusk, Mars in E at nightfall, Saturn rises late PM, at dawn in South • Planet schedule changes each year due to all planets having different periods to orbit sun
Nov.-Jan. Group Schedule • Same *’s (stars) & groups come back same time each year as Earth orbits the sun • Nov. & Dec.even: Summer Triangle low in W • Nov.-Jan. even: Cass (“M”), Capella,7 Sisters high • Dec. & Jan. even: Orion (3 star belt), Sirius below • Nov.-Jan. Dawn Skies feature spring evening stars
Planetarium Schedule & Services • Free Sunday Public Shows at 4 pm, 7 pm • Planetarium=Tawes 302, near Clock Tower • Nov.Sunday shows: Telescopic Astronomy (no programs Nov.22, Sunday before Thanksgiving) • “Christmas & Seasonal Feasts” Dec.6, 13 & 20 • “Our Glorious Atmosphere” Jan.10,17,24 & 31 • Come about 10 min.early as no late admissions • Call (301) 687-7799 to request bookmark & map
Frequently asked questions • What are shooting or falling stars? • Pea sized space grit impacting upper atmosphere and bursting into flame. • What if planets aligned (as beads on string)? • They can’t as orbits are not in 1 plane. But even if they could, their pull very weak next to our moon. • Why study other worlds? won’t ease our problems • By understanding other worlds, better know Earth • Your questions are welcome at our public programs.
Send any questions to…. • Bob Doyle email firstname.lastname@example.org • Be sure that questions involve basics about sky, moon, planets and stars • For questions about 2012, Pluto, Asteroids, Comets – visit Planetarium, talk to Dr. Doyle • Sunday programs are free on Sundays at 4 p.m.and 7 p.m. starting Sept.6, change monthly at FSU To arrange program for special group, club, call below number and state your date and hour. • Call (301) 687-7799 to request free planetarium bookmark, schedule sent to you through mail