Thursday, September 30, 2010

Reflection for Celestial Sphere lab

I'd say I knew a lot of the basics of why we have seasons and equinoxes before this lab, but being able to see them illustrated was very useful for solidifying ideas. I'm still having issues with positioning sunrise and sunset, so I'm sure there are a few mistakes in that area, but other than that, I think I've learned what I was meant to learn. : )

Celestial Sphere Lab

Star Motion from Different Points of View

1. March 20ish
2. September 20ish
3. 20-25% in June
3. They move to the left, same stars, mostly, rotating the field of vision.
4. Moving to the left, but the sky shifts a lot more, different stars. During the year, one would expect to be able to see all of the stars (viewable from the Earth) at some point from the equator, or at least close to that amount.
5. Sept 25th ish
6. December 20th ish
7. 67 degrees
8. They move to the left, in an arc, more than the north pole but less than the equator (smaller arc of movement).
9. The closer you get to a pole, the less field of vision you have- at the equator, you see more stars in a smoother, broader motion.

Reflection: I drew a sphere on my paper to help myself visualize it- when a ball rotates, the center of rotation is narrowed at the north and south "poles" of the sphere, where the middle is a much broader kind of rotation, even though the entire sphere is "rotating" at the same speed. So, as a result, the north and south poles get a smaller field of vision compared to the middle of the sphere.

Stars and Constellations

10. RA: 18.5 hours, Dec: 40 degrees
11. Betelgeuse
12. Orion
13. Castor
14. Antares
15. RA: 12 hrs, Dec: -3 degrees
16. Canis Major- 6.8 hours, -18 degrees
17. 17.7 hrs, -30 degrees
18. the outer edge (as opposed to the middle of the galaxy)
19. Crab Nebula
20. a) Indus b) Aquarius c) Andromeda d) Piscis Austrinus e) Grus
21. Saggitarius
22. Virgo
23. Cancer
24. The sun is blocking out the astrological constellation in that specific time frame.
25. The numerical value increases.
26. Polaris
27. 1.6-2.5 magnitude
28. Apprx. 7 stars
29. Dubhe
30. Alpha
31. Merak
32. Variable star
33. it is a cluster of stars (listed as "Multiple Stars" in the key)
34. 55 degrees
35. Ursa Major
36. The two brightest - Merak and Dubhe. It's not on the ecliptic.
37. 28 degrees
38. It looks like the letter "C".
39. Zero hours, maybe 5 minutes or so.

Observer Based Coordinate System

40. Done
41. Alt: 45, Azi: 75
42. Alt: 30, Azi: 43
43. Alt: 55, Azi: 85
44. Sept 30
45. August 25
46. June 5
47. Jan 10
48. May 20
49. April 5
50. 5 degrees
51. October 17
52. 7 degrees
53. September 22 - lowest, March 21 - highest - The autumnal and vernal equinoxes, respectively.

WINTER SOLSTICE: Dec. 21 | 18hrs, -25 degrees | 8:30 am, 135 degrees SUNRISE | 5:30 pm, 240 degrees SUNSET | 45 degrees at noon | 9 hours out of 24 (9/24)

SUMMER SOLSTICE: June 21 | 6 hrs, 25 degrees | 5am, 100 degrees SUNRISE | 10pm, 260 degrees SUNSET | 85 degrees at noon | 17 hours out of 24 (17/24)

AUTUMNAL EQUINOX: Sept 21 | 12 hrs, 0 degrees | 6am, 90 degrees SUNRISE | 6pm, 270 degrees SUNSET | 12 hours out of 24 (1/2)

Predictions: March 21, 0 hours, 0 degrees, rises at 6am, sets at 6pm, same as Autumnal equinox, just on the other side of the sphere.

We have seasons because of the amount of light per day vs. the tilt of the earth and what angle the rays hit the earth at- although parts of Alaska might get 16 hours of sunlight, the temperatures are still very low compared to a place on the equator with 16 hours of sunlight.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sky Journal Week 2

I just finished playing Dungeons and Dragons with my sister and her husband and a few other odd people (her housemates and 2 other friends), and was driving home on Highway 20 going East between Anacortes and Burlington, in my dad's SUV because I was too lazy to fill my own car up with gas. As I was driving home, I noticed this huge yellow half circle hanging the sky. Yeah, the moon. Huge, and yellow, and half circular, being the moon. It was about 15 degrees altitude and almost 90 degrees azimuth.

I also saw the big dipper directly to the left, also looking very large, and almost directly north. It was an almost magical moment, having the big dipper to the left and a big yellow moon in front, and a lovely veil of mist covering everything making it very hard to see in some places. The sky, however was clear.

Time: 10:30pm or so.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Edwin Hubble

Edwin Hubble lived from November 20, 1889 to September 28, 1953, a time where astronomy and such was just getting popular and space exploration was just beginning. He is credited with many discoveries, such as the idea that the universe extends beyond the Milky Way, probably his most impacting discovery. In addition to seeing that the universe was vastly larger than previously noted, Edwin Hubble also discovered that other galaxies and celestial bodies were constantly moving at rates calculable with what is now called “Hubble’s Law”. His discoveries also led to the eventual (possible) calculation of the Big Bang Theory, which was calculable by finding the source/center of all the moving galaxies and their various rates in relation to each other.

He also discovered an asteroid, named “asteroid 1373 Cincinnati”, in August of 1935 in addition to writing a book on observational astronomy (mostly naked eye and some telescopic) and a book about nebulae. He spent a lot of his later years pushing for astronomy to be considered in the physics sector of the Nobel Prize, and shortly after his death, the Nobel Prize committee decided that work in the astronomical field could be considered for the physics prize. The current telescope, from which so many fascinating and mind-blowing pictures come from, The Hubble Space Telescope, was named after Edwin and his passion for astronomy.

Weekly Reflection

I must say that I have learned quite a lot concerning the mechanics of how we as humans view the sky. I've learned about the various systems of describing where a certain celestial body is, such as the observer-based system with azimuth and altitude. I've also learned about the general areas where celestial bodies are in relation to the earth, like some constellations, using the celestial sphere lab. I'm still confused about what time a sunset or sunrise is according to the time of the year, but I'm assuming we'll get to that. I also have some difficulty separating the azimuth and altitude things and keep getting turned around with the direction things spin, but I bet that will become easier with usage of the materials. I just hope that through these labs and such that I will be able to do well on the test coming up! Homework time.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Moon Phases Lab

Group Members: Gabe, Joel, Matt, and Alyssa

1e) The dark side of the moon is away from the earth. the far side is the dark side, facing space, opposite the sun.
1f) The dark side is on the left half of the moon. The back side is facing space once again.
1g) The moon traveled 180 degrees around Earth. The dark side is the right side of the moon, and the far side is facing space.
1h) E A G B D K F C J I H E (moon phases fill-in-the-blank).

2a) Yes
2b) Yes
2c) Full Moon
2d) 3rd Quarter Moon - Waning

3a) On northern horizon
3b) Midnight
3c) West
3d) On northern horizon
3e) Noon


1. 30 days
2. 1 year (one rotation around the sun- one cycle of phases.)
3. c
4. a) No?
b) If the moon is in 1st quarter or 3rd quarter phase, Earth's shadow would be nowhere near the moon.
5) A lot of our group already knew that the moon phases were caused by the reflection of sunlight off of the moon, but we never really though much about why the phases would be visibly different according to the position it was in relative to the Earth. Prior to this lab, we though that the sun would be reflecting off of the moon differently than we found. For me specifically, I had the full moon and the new moon phase switched around, since I hadn't really seen a diagram of what was occurring during moon phases.

We discovered and solidified ideas such as waxing and waning and the logic behind it as well as the time of day a phase of the moon would set or rise using the diagram of the last page of the lab. We also realized that the earth and moon aren't on the same plane as the sun, so the full moon can actually be visible because the sun is never fully blocked by the Earth unless it's a lunar eclipse. The group came to realize some of our past misconceptions and now have a moderate understanding of the phases of the moon.

Sky Journal Week 1

I was driving home from renting a movie and buying donuts when I glanced up and saw the moon. It was one of those moments that takes you by surprise in it's absolute cliche-edness, but also absolute beauty. The moon was only slightly waning and partially hidden by clouds, but was fully illuminated and cast a cold and eerie glow upon the sky surrounding it. It reminded me of those old werewolf movies when the gruesome transformation takes place on a cold and cloudy night, but the moon is extremely visible despite the clouds. I half expected to hear howling.

It was nearly due east, (90 degrees), and was probably about 60 degrees in altitude. High enough to be noticed, but not straight above.

The time was 10:00pm, just a few hours before this post.

No other stars or celestial bodies were visible.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

APOD Photo #1

The picture I chose was more interesting in back story than many of the others. It was shot right before the Ranger 7 that took the picture crashed a mere 17 minutes later. The picture depicts the surface of the moon, violent with craters and various imperfections. It is a simple picture, yet it was snapped minutes before the ranger completed its mission and smashed into the surface of the moon. One would ask why it crashed, but as it was in orbit in 1964, the technology may have not been advanced enough to facilitate navigating the moon's surface at a close range and the probe was therefore sent on a suicide mission in order to get the closeups of the moon's surface.

See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download   the highest resolution version available.

"Explanation: On July 31, 1964, Ranger 7 crashed into the Moon. Seventeen minutes before impact it snapped this picture - the first image of the Moon ever taken by a U.S. spacecraft. Of course Ranger 7 was intended to crash, transmitting close-up pictures of the lunar surface during its final moments. The Ranger program's goal was to begin high resolution mapping of the lunar surface in preparation for a future lunar landing. This first image covered 360 kilometers from top to bottom and is centered in the Mare Nubium (Sea of Clouds). The large crater at middle right, Alphonsus, is 108 kilometers in diameter.

On July 31, 1999,
Lunar Prospector crashed into the Moon. During its successful 1 year mission to map the Moon's global properties from orbit, Lunar Prospector confirmed indications that water-ice could be trapped in permanently shadowed craters near the lunar poles. Its mission complete, controllers intentionally targeted the spacecraft to impact a crater wall, hoping that water could be more directly detected in the resulting debris cloud - although the chances of a successful detection were considered low. Astronomers analyzing the data recently announced that no visible signature of water was found, so the tantalizing case forwater on the Moon remains open."

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