Constellations & The Night Sky
Focus: the sky (day and night) has predictable patterns that can be observed, described,
and understood.
Goals: from a series of inquiries about night sky patterns, summarize the behaviors
studied, then create a brief written statement. Answering the questions should take
about 30 minutes.
Please answer the questions in any format (any of single or double spacing, font size
any, etc.), ensuring that you answer each of the questions as a series of responses, or in
essay form. Submit it on paper (only, no electronic submissions) to the professor by the
date specified in the syllabus or as otherwise noted by your professor.
1. Choose one of the following on-line planetarium programs, then look for the specific
instructions (at the end) for the one you’ve chosen.
http://www.skyviewcafe.com/skyview.php
http://www.astroviewer.com/interactive-night-sky-mapphp
http://www.heavens-above.com
2. Set your observing location and time zone. Each tool should show a large fraction of
the sky, either as a whole-sky chart (on-line tools) or as a pseudo-horizon (Stellarium).
A. Exploration of Daily Motion
a) Set the software for the current date. To which constellation is the Sun closest?
b) Increase the time by one hour (using a 24-hour clock). Toward which direction
does the Sun move?
c) How does the position of the Sun compare to the constellation of question A.a?
d) Advance the time to sunset. How does the position of the Sun compare to the
constellation of A.a?
e) Advance the time to sunrise. How does the position of the Sun compare to the
answer of A.a?
f) What general statement can you make about the motion of the Sun and the
stars?
B. Exploration of Longer-term Motion
a) Set the star map to sunset for today. To which constellation is the Sun closest?
b) Set the date to tomorrow. How does the Sun’s position compare to the answer
of B.a?
c) Set the date to one week from now. How does the Sun’s position compare to the
answer of B.a?
d) Set the date to two weeks from now. How does the Sun’s position compare to
the answer of B.a?
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