Astronomy Homepage Spring 2009 - 2010

Course Overview Documents

SHS Astronomy Overview
Alternate Grade Scale for Labs/Projects (html)
Personal Introduction Essay (doc)

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Assignments listed in chronological order:

First Quarter

Stars and the Night Sky Basics

Watched “Powers of Ten” video. This is a classic in the world of science videos and gives an overview of the entire universe seen at different distance scales.
Write a brief reaction paper to describe what you learned from this video. What was the take-home message?

Due this week: your own Personal Introduction Essay

This week we also build a homemade planisphere for use in predicting the constellations that are visible in the night sky. A list of constellations will be provided as well.

Next we will begin to learn to use the Planisphere and equivalent tools on the internet.
The following activities require information in the The Edmund Sky Guide by Terence Dickinson and Sam Brown, which was handed out in class.
Questions about Sky Motion: An assignment to read a packet and use your planisphere to answer some questions.
Questions about the Stars: a continuation of the set of questions begun last week about the Edmund Sky Guide. These questions concern a bit more about the motions of the sky and a little about the stars.

Questions about the Stars 2: covering stellar magnitudes and spectral types

We will have a quiz over the previous material before moving on to another topic.

We will spend one or two days in the computer lab Exploring Astronomy Online

Before moving on we will take some time to learn to use the Sky View Café:
Web Assignment: Sky View Café: we will spend time in the computer lab to work on this. The assignment uses an amazing online tool called the Sky View Café, which allows you to see what’s in the sky at any time from the remote past to the distant future from any place on Earth.
The above assignment is aided by a general reference sheet on the constellations available here.

Latitude, Longitude and the Seasons

Activity: Latitude and Longitude: This serves as an introduction to the Seasons topic. Getting familiar with how locations on the globe are specified and with some important lines of latitude will make understanding the seasons lessons easier.

Introduction to the Seasons: an activity with a few questions to introduce students to some of the key issues in understanding the cause of the seasons and the apparent motions of the Sun.

After the above in-class activities we will begin working on the materials about the seasons found at the Nebraska Astronomy Applet Project site titled Basic Coordinates and Seasons Module. Download and work through the Basic Coordinates and Seasons Student Guide if working at home. The material covers the basics of latitude and longitude, right acension and declination and the basics of why we have seasons on Earth.

This week we will wrap up our work on the seasons with the following activity:
Questions: Motions of the Sun
Observation Assignment: Observe the Phases of the Moon

We will have a quiz on the seasons when we have completed all of this work.

Exploring Astronomy Online: Visit some great sites and learn what the Internet has to offer when it comes to learning about Astronomy!

Second Quarter

Phases of the Moon

We begin our study of the phases of the Moon with these activities:
Moon Phases: Hand-held Simulator
Phases of the Moon

We continue our study of the Moon in class with this activity:
Moon Phases and Rise and Set Times

Activity: The Size of the Sun

We will further our study of the Moon using the NAAP Moon Simulator and these questions:
Moon Phases with Simulator
We will end our study of the Moon by summarizing what we have learned in a class discussion.
Here is an illustration that helps to explain why the cycle of the Moon’s Phases is 29.5 days but the time it takes for the Moon to orbit the Earth is only 27.3 days.
After this discussion students will make posters to display all that they have learned about the Moon and the Phases of the Moon. The poster will be counted as a quiz grade. The grading rubric for the poster is available.

The Solar System

The Size and Scale of the Solar System View this page before doing the activity below
The Size of the Solar System. This activity should require several hours of class time to complete.

Asteroids, Part I
Asteroids, Part II
Asteroids, Part III
Asteroid Facts Worksheet
Asteroids: What should be done about Apophis?

Activity: Orbits and Ellipses.
Demo: Blue Sky, Red Sunset
Solar Interlude
Activity: the Size of the Sun This page includes an in-class activity with questions to complete for homework and a separate homework assignment.

Activity: The Planets an on-line research activity

All students are required to take the final exam: the exam will be comprehensive.

A few useful links

  1. Stars and Constellations
  2. Constellations by Jim Kaler
  3. HubbleSite -- Out of the ordinary...out of this world.
  5. Sky and Telescope - Home
  6. StarDate Online
  7. Astronomy Picture of the Day
  8. Los Cielos de Chile (amazing photos)
  9. Miloslav Druckmüller, Astrophotographer
  10. Heavens-Above
  11. HyperPhysics Astrophysics
  12. -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-
  13. US Naval Observatory Data
  14. Solar System Simulator - JPL
  15. The Nine Planets
  16. Welcome to the Planets
  17. Sky View Cafe - Astronomy - Star Charts - Ephemeris - Planetarium
  18. NASA
  19. Astronomy Resources at STScI
An excellent online application to enable users to see the sky from any location on Earth at any time or date:
The Nebraska Astronomy Applet Project (NAAP) is a great resource for learning various essential topics in Astronomy. We will be using it repeatedly.
A fully-functional scientific calculator including a table of useful constants.
A Partial Bibliography of works consulted
And here’s a useful download: a program that will quickly and easily convert units for you. Download and unzip to use. Windows only.

Teachers and other Professionals:

This material is copyrighted but I grant permission for in-classroom use. Please give the URL and not copies to other teachers. Only pages directly downloaded may be used, do not distribute paper copies. Requirement for use: send me an email and give me feedback on your success with these materials.
a k e l l e r  [at] scarborough . k12 . me . us
You will have to remove the spaces to use this address.

Important note regarding printing

Before printing turn off the optional header and footer information. Also, make the left margin 0.75 in (1.9 cm) and the other margins 0.5 in (1.3 cm) so that the page breaks I built into the pages work as intended. Use only Internet Explorer to print as Netscape and Firefox both implement the page code a bit differently and I haven't optimized the pages for those browsers. My apologies if you are using a Mac: I cannot guarantee that you will be able to print these pages as I intended.

Some of the files are PDFs and you need the Acrobat Reader available from Adobe. Some files are also MS Word 97 or RTF documents, which just about anyone should be able to view. If you have trouble, try going to to download the Word Viewer.

Last Updated: Jan 25, 2009