Projects

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For extra credit do as many projects you want. The more you do the greater the extra credit.

Project 1:

Measure your shadow at noon (or at the same time) during the following three times:

1) Early in the semester (the first week)

2) Mid semester

3) Two weeks before the end of the semester

Based on the above measurements, can you relate the length of your shadow and the height of the Sun?

Project 2:

Observe a constellation (such as Orion, or the Big Dipper, or Cassiopeia) at the same time at night for several days each month of the semester. Each time, draw on a paper roughly how high from the horizon the constellation is (i.e. 10 degrees, 30 degrees, etc), and roughly what direction (i.e., East, West, North, South, SW, NW, NE, SE). After several months of observation, as the semester is finishing, can you make a statement on the constellation's position through the months?

Project 3:

Observe the shadow (and draw it on paper) of a vertical stick each day at the same time. Do several observations, for example, several days each month of the semester. Is the shadow of the stick the same length and in the same direction each day? Based on your results, can you comment on whether the Sun rises each day exactly from East, or not? If not, based on your observations, from where has the Sun been rising each day?

Project 4:

What is an AU and how do we measure it? What is a parallax and how is it used by astronomers in measuring the distance of a star?

Project 5:

Having in mind Kepler's three laws, create a computer animation of the heliocentric model.

Project 6:

Construct or animate a sundial.

More Activities: Astronomical Society of the Pacific

10 more projects:

Use the site http://www.pbs.org/seeinginthedark/ and do the following:

1. view or print "Your Sky Tonight", a chart of any part of the sky, showing planets, stars, and deep space objects, as seen from any location and time you wish to set

2. watch introductory "how-to-videos" with Timothy Ferris on getting started with the hobby of astronomy.

3. take a photo of any object in the northern sky using the Seeing in the Dark Internet Telescope and have it sent to you by e-mail (restricted to students)

4. read more about the astronomers featured in the show and get basic background information about the astronomy it covers (including such topics as planets around other stars, the exploration of Mars, the spokes in Saturn's rings, and what happened with Pluto)

5. explore a series of class-room tested, hands-on activities for students in grades 2 through 12, ready for teachers to use (even if they don't have a strong background in astronomy)

6. browse through a gallery of beautiful color images of the cosmos, taken by the astronomical photographers who contributed to the show

7. find a star whose light left on its journey toward us in the year you were born

8. discover some fun projects and games for families who want to do astronomy together (both indoors and outdoors)

9. watch the special effects videos from Seeing in the Dark on your computer

10. browse through links to selected web sites for learning more about astronomy, and for finding an astronomy club near you.

(The web site was made possible through support from the National Science Foundation.)
 

Project 6:

Having the diagram below as a guide of the sky, document the angular height and compass direction of a specific star at a various instances of time, during several weeks.

In your mind, connect the line between the zenith and a star and extend it towards the horizon. Using this line find the stars angular height and compass direction.