Cuesta College :: Astronomy 210L :: Fall 2017
Calendar Policies Projects Grades

Preview online presentation (*.blog)

Pre-lab assignment 3 (*.html) 
     Due one hour before start of this lab

Current events study links: 
     Today's sunrise time, sunset time, and moon phase (*.html)
     American Museum of Natural History (*.html)
     Hubble Space Telescope (*.html)
     Sandia National Laboratories (*.html)

Laboratory 3 
"Each separate star
Seems nothing, but a myriad scattered stars
Break up the Night, and make it beautiful."
     --Bayard Taylor, Lars, Book III

     Cuesta ThinkPad laptops (wireless networking, internet browser)
          (appropriate, responsible in-class use of personal laptops allowed)
Current Events Quiz
(First 10 minutes of laboratory.)

Cycles of the Sky (*.blog)

Big Idea
    Stars have properties, locations, and predictable patterns of motion on the celestial sphere that can be observed and described.  These and other celestial object motions explain such phenomena as the day, the year, the seasons, phases of the moon, and eclipses.  

     Students will conduct a series of inquiries about the motion of stars in the sky using prescribed internet simulations and learn how different constellations are visible at different times of the year in different locations in the sky.  

Computer Setup
Access the Heavens Above website, set for your campus, by clicking on the appropriate link below, and then select "Astronomy > Interactive Sky Chart":
     *Bowen Observatory, San Luis Obispo campus (*.html)
     *Telescope shelter, North County campus (*.html)
You should now see a star chart for the current time/date, where north is at the top, and west is to the right.

(Record your lab partners' names on your worksheet.)
1. Exploration
  1. When you first turn on the star map, the yellow dot marking the sun is probably visible (if not, change the time until it is above the southwestern horizon). If you were to go outside right now, could you see these stars shown on the map? Explain why or why not. Explanation: ___________.
  2. Which constellation of stars is the sun currently closest to? Closest constellation to the sun: _________.
  3. Change the time by increasing it one hour and pressing submit. (This system probably uses 24- hr military time. So, 6:00 PM is actually entered as 1800 hours.) Does the sun's position on the map move towards the north, south, east, or west? Sun motion direction: __________.
  4. Which constellation was the sun closest to (one hour after the initial time)? Is this the same or different than where the sun was earlier in the day? Closest constellation to the sun, one hour later: __________. Same or different? __________.
  5. If you advance the time to sunset, which constellation of stars is the sun closest to at sunset? Is this the same or different than where the sun was earlier in the day? Closest constellation to the sun, at sunset: __________. Same or different? __________.
  6. If you advance the time to sunrise (the following day), which constellation of stars is the sun closest to at sunrise? Is this the same or different than where the sun was at sunset? Closest constellation to the sun, at sunrise: __________. Same or different? __________.
  7. What generalization statement, in a complete sentence, can you make about how the sun and the stars appear to move together in the sky? Generalization of sun and star motion(s): ___________.
2. Does Evidence Match a Given Conclusion? Consider the research question "Which direction does the sun move compared to the background constellations?" Using the sky chart, determine the constellation that the sun is closest to for the following dates:
Date: Closest constellation to the sun:
One week from now______
Two weeks from now______
Three weeks from now______
One month from now______
Two months from now______
Three months from now______
Six months from now______
Nine months from now______
Twelve months from now   ______
Two years from now______
If a student proposed a generalization that "The constellations seem to slowly drift westward compared to the position of the sun, with the sun covering different constellations at a rate of about one per week," would you agree or disagree with the generalization based on the evidence you collected by analyzing the pattern of how the sun's position changes compared to the constellations? Explain your reasoning and provide evidence either from the above questions or from evidence you yourself generate using the sky chart program(*). 3. What Conclusions Can You Draw From This Evidence? Orion is a prominent winter constellation visible at night, usually being hidden by the daytime sun in summer. What conclusions and generalizations can you make from the following data collected by a student in terms of "How does the timing of Orion being visible directly above the southern horizon change over the year?"

Time above   

Azimuth, Direction
(270° is due west):
October 15:00 AM180°, S
November 1   3:00 AM180°, S
December 11:00 AM180°, S
January 111:00 PM     180°, S
February 19:00 PM180°, S
(Evidence collected from "Astronomy > Interactive Sky Chart" at the Heavens Above website for Laramie, WY (*.html).) Explain your reasoning and provide specific evidence, with sketches if necessary, to support your reasoning(*). 4. What Evidence Do You Need to Pursue? Describe precisely what evidence you would need to collect (using the Heavens Above website) in order to answer the research question of "Over what precise time(s) of year is my horoscope birth sign covered by the sun and (thus unable to be observed)?" You do not need to actually complete the steps in the procedure you are writing. Create a detailed, step-by-step description of evidence that needs to be collected and a complete explanation of how this could be done--not just "look and see when the sun is nearby," but exactly what would someone need to do, step-by-step, to accomplish this. You might include a table and sketches--the goal is to be precise and detailed enough that someone else could follow your procedure(*). 5. Formulate a Question, Pursue Evidence, and Justify Your Conclusion Design an answerable research question (*.html), propose a plan to pursue evidence, collect data using the Heavens Above website (or another suitable source approved by your instructor), and create an evidence-based conclusion about an aspect that you have not completed before. (Have your instructor approve your whiteboard research question before proceeding further.) Research report summary on whiteboards(*), to be worked on and presented to the class instructor as a group, should include:
  1. Specific research question.
  2. Step-by-step procedure to collect evidence.
  3. Data table and/or results.
  4. Evidence-based conclusion statement.
Preparation/Reflection Points 1.0 = Pre-lab reading assignment 1.0 = Current events quiz 1.0 = Post-lab reflection assignment Group Work Points(*) Documentation (Tasks 1-4, graded from randomly selected group member) 2.0 = exploration complete and reasoning correct 1.5 = minor problem with exploration or reasoning 1.0 = minor problems with both exploration and reasoning 0.5 = problematic exploration and reasoning 2.0 = Poster/presentation (task 5) (Graded for completion this week) (Backwards Folded Scaffolding laboratory used with permission from: Tim Slater, Stephanie Slater, Daniel J. Lyons, Engaging in Astronomical Inquiry, W.H. Freeman & Company, New York (2010), pp. 23-32.)

Post-lab assignment 3 (*.html) 
     Due one hour before start of next lab
Go to next lab's weblink:
     Preview online presentation 
     Complete online pre-lab assignment
     Read current events study guide links for upcoming quiz