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Observational Astronomy

Observational Astronomy

You can do a great deal of astronomy without the aid of a telescope, in fact many famous astronomers worked without telescopes. This lab (which you should begin at the beginning of the semester) we will learn about the Moon and Sun and the just by looking up at the right time.

80 points total

Part One Observing The Sun.

DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN!!!

If you really want to look at the sun get some of these

Find a place where you have a good view of the western horizon were there are still a few features on the horizon for you to note. (The beach will NOT work for this). WITHOUT LOOKING DIRECTLY AT THE SUN estimate where the Sun is going to set relative to a feature (tree, building etc.) on the horizon and Draw it in the box labeled week 1.  Note the Date and time the sun set (when the bottom of the sun touched the horizon) One again DON’T LOOK AT THE SUN… estimate. Return to that exact same spot for three more weeks (give or take) and estimate where the sun is setting relative to your tree or building and note the date and time. Once your observations are complete (Worth 20 points) answer the following questions in a separate document that you can submit to the drop box.

  1. What did you notice about how the position of sunset was changing? (5 points)
  • Why was it changing? (5 points)
  • How might the changing of the position of the sunset relate to the seasons? (5 points)
  • How might the changing of the position of the sunset relate to the passage of a year? (5 points)
  • Given your answer to #4 would you need to know the Earth was going around the Sun to keep track of the passage of a year? (5 points)

Week 1

Date________________

Time _______________

Week 2

Date________________

Time _______________

Week 3

Date________________

Time _______________

Week 4

Date________________

Time _______________

Part 2 Observing the Moon

Go to this web site

http://www.moonconnection.com/moon_phases_calendar.phtml

and find a day with a waxing crescent Moon (just a sliver of it lit on the right side) that you can observe. You’ll need a place where you can see the western sky (for this the beach will work just fine).

  • Get to your spot right after sunset you’ll see the Moon right on the horizon. Make a drawing of the Moon relative to the horizon and note the Date and time beside your drawing of the Moon.  Make sure your drawing includes how much of the Moon is lit and about how far it is off the horizon. (5 points)
  • Return to the same place two or three days later at the same time and draw the Moon again on the same drawing and label the Moon with the time and date. (5 points)
  • Return to the same place two or three days later at the same time and draw the Moon again on the same drawing and label the Moon with the time and date. (5 points)

So In the end you’ll have one drawing of the Moon on three different nights from the same place. Once you have your drawings answer the following questions in the same document you answered the Sun questions in.

  • How did the Moon’s distance from the horizon change from one observation to the next? (5 points)
  1. How did the lit portion of the Moon change from one observation to the next? (5 points)
  1. From our point of view is the Moon moving around the Earth east to west or west to east? (5 points)
  1. Based on your observations is the Moon setting later or sooner as the month goes by? (5 points)
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