# ASTR 1030 Astronomy Lab 65 Celestial Motions CELESTIAL MOTIONS

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1 ASTR 1030 Astronomy Lab 65 Celestial Motions CELESTIAL MOTIONS SYNOPSIS: The objective of this lab is to become familiar with the apparent motions of the Sun, Moon, and stars in the Boulder sky. EQUIPMENT: A globe of the Earth, a light box, styrofoam ball, pinhole camera tube. LENGTH: Two lab periods. Part I. Daily Motion of the Sun The daily motion of the Sun is caused by the Earth s rotation rather than the Sun actually moving across the sky. (A subtle point! It took civilization thousands of years to figure this out!) The diagram below shows an overhead view of the Earth and Sun: I.1 Sketch the diagram above in your lab report. Indicate the direction of the Earth s rotation, and label the time of day at points A, B, C, and D. Explain your reasoning. In the next part you will use the globe and light box: I.2 In the center of the room a light box is positioned such that it is illuminating the globe; the light box will simulate the Sun. Find Boulder on the globe; and position the globe such that it is noon in Boulder (latitude 40, longitude 105 ) Orient the globe such that the Earth s axis is pointing 90 (in either direction) away from the light box. In a moment you will see that this orientation represents the equinoxes; on these days the Northern and Southern hemispheres each receive 12 hours of sunlight. What fraction of the Earth is illuminated? I.3 At the time Boulder is at Noon, what major cities or small countries are experiencing sunrise and sunset? (Pick one for each.) I.4 Rotate the globe such that Boulder is now at sunset. How much of the Earth is illuminated now?

2 ASTR 1030 Astronomy Lab 66 Celestial Motions Part II. The Annual Motion of the Sun The position of the Sun in the sky also changes as the Earth orbits around the Sun. This motion is not to be confused with the daily motion of the Sun described above! The Earth s axis is tilted 23.5 with respect to the perpendicular of its orbital plane (see diagram below). As a consequence different parts of the Earth receive different amounts of sunlight depending on where the Earth is in its orbit. Note: the orbit is circular, but it is shown here in projection: Due to the Earth s tilt the northern hemisphere receives more light during the summer months; and less light during the winter. The Sun also rises higher in the sky during the summer; and this direct sunlight is more warming. These two effects cause the summer to be warmer than the winter. The summer is not warmer than the winter because the Earth is closer to the Sun; in fact, the Earth is slightly closer to the Sun during the Northern hemisphere's winter! The Sun s path across the summer and winter sky is shown on the next page. Note that the winter Sun does not rise as high; nor is it up for as long: If you were to measure the position of the Sun every day at Noon over the span of a year, you would notice that it slowly moves up and down with the seasons. For example, on June 21st the Sun at Noon is at its highest, northernmost position, while on December 22nd the Sun is at its lowest, southernmost position. These days are called the summer and winter solstices respectively. Solstice literally means Sun stop ; on those two days the Sun appears to stop moving and change directions (e.g. on the Summer solstice the Sun stops moving to the North and starts to descend to the South.)

3 ASTR 1030 Astronomy Lab 67 Celestial Motions The illustration above shows the Earth at the summer solstice (for the northern hemisphere). Position your globe such that Boulder is at Noon and it is the Summer solstice. From the globe and the illustration above answer the following questions: II.1 What direction do the stars rotate around Polaris, the North Star, as seen from the Northern hemisphere. Do they go around clockwise or counter-clockwise? II.2 What season is Tibet experiencing? How about Easter Island? II.3 What is the antipode to Boulder - the point directly opposite on the globe, through the center of the Earth? (Hint: It is not China!) II.4 The Tropic of Cancer marks the northernmost points where the Sun can be seen at the zenith (i.e. directly overhead) respectively. On the summer solstice anyone standing on the Tropic of Cancer will see the Sun overhead at Noon. Is there anywhere in all of the fifty United States where you could see the Sun at the zenith? II.5 The Arctic Circle marks the northern region of the Earth where the Sun is sometimes, always (or never!) visible. Find the town of Barrow, Alaska. On the summer solstice at what times will the Sun rise and set here?

4 ASTR 1030 Astronomy Lab 68 Celestial Motions Part III. The Southern Hemisphere Without changing the orientation of the globe study what is happening down under in Australia. III.1 On the Northern hemisphere's Summer solstice is the Sun to the North or South? What season is Australia experiencing? III.2 III.3 The Tropic of Capricorn marks the southernmost point at which the Sun can be seen at zenith. Find the town of Alice Springs in the center of Australia. Is the sun ever directly overhead in Alice Springs? If so, when? (Refer to the dot marking the town.) The Antarctic Circle is the southern equivalent of the Arctic Circle. On our summer solstice what time does the Sun rise at the South Pole? III.4 In Australia, do the stars rise in the east and set in the west? Which way do the stars revolve around the south celestial pole? Medieval Noon mark from Bedos de Celles, La Gnomonique pratique (Paris, 1790), a book on the use of sundials. If you look carefully at the shadows you may notice that the artist has made a mistake.

5 ASTR 1030 Astronomy Lab 69 Celestial Motions Part IV. The Moon s Orbit Now we will add the Moon and its orbit around the Earth. The diagram below shows the overhead view of the Earth and Sun from before, but now the Moon has been added: IV.1 Sketch the diagram and label the phases of the moon that correspond with positions 1, 2, 3, and 4 as well as the approximate positions for the crescent and gibbous phases and the time of day that corresponds with positions A, B, C and D. The Moon orbits the Earth counter-clockwise (in the same direction the Earth rotates). Note that half of the Moon is always illuminated (just like the Earth); even though it may not appear to be! Now let s follow the Moon s progression around the Earth. We define the beginning of the lunar cycle as the new Moon. The half of the Moon illuminated by sunlight is facing away from us, and we would only see the dark side; however, since the Moon appears close to the Sun in the sky at this time, we cannot see it because the Sun is so bright. As the Moon moves in its orbit, it moves away from the Sun, and we start to see the illuminated half of the Moon in the form of a crescent. At this time the Moon is called a waxing crescent because each night the crescent appears to grow ( waxing means to grow ). When half of what we see of the Moon is illuminated, it is called 1st Quarter- called as such because the Moon has completed the first quarter of its orbit (a bit confusing since half, not a quarter, of the Moon is illuminated!) As the Moon starts to move behind

7 ASTR 1030 Astronomy Lab 71 Celestial Motions Moon depends on where it is in its orbit; and as you just saw the position of the Moon in its orbit also determines the Moon s phase. Now use the globe of the Earth and the light-box as you did before; but now include the foam ball to simulate the Moon. Position the globe such that it is the summer solstice. Hold the ball and move it around the Earth to simulate the lunar orbit. V.1 Position the globe such that Boulder is at noon and the Moon s phase is new. At what time did the Moon rise; and when will it set? (Hint: You can rotate the Earth to see where Boulder will be when the Moon is on the horizon.) V.2 Position Boulder back at noon but now move the Moon so that its phase is 1 st Quarter. Where in the sky will the Moon appear to be from Boulder? Where in the sky does the Moon appear to be in Tibet? What time will the Moon rise and set? V.3 Now position the Moon so that its phase is full. At what time will it rise and set? What phase of the Moon do people in the southern hemisphere see right now? V.4 The Moon completes one lunar orbit in 27.3 days. In this time the moonrise (and moonset) time will have changed by 24 hours - which means it will appear to be right back to where it started. What time does the Moon rise in New York, as compared to Tokyo? How much earlier or later does the Moon rise each night? V.5 The Moon is not the only Solar System object which shows phases - the planets do as well. You ve learned that the Moon shows a crescent phase when it is between the Earth and Sun. Which of the planets can show a crescent phase? Why is this? V.6 Ask your TA what phase is the Moon today. Estimate (the date) when the Moon will be new. When will it be full? What phase is best viewed during your lab time? If the Moon is visible now go outside and hold up the foam ball at arm s length in the direction of the real Moon. The foam ball should have the same phase as the Moon! Explain why this is so. Part VI. The Size of the Sun and Moon Warning! Looking directly at the Sun can damage your eyes!

8 ASTR 1030 Astronomy Lab 72 Celestial Motions In order to measure the diameter of the Sun we use a pinhole camera - a cardboard tube with a piece of foil at one end with a tiny hole; the other end of the tube is covered in graph paper. Being careful not to look at the Sun directly, aim the tube up to the Sun with the graph paper facing you. You should see an image of the Sun on the graph paper. VI.1 Measure the diameter of the Sun s image, counting the marks on the graph paper. Each square on the graph paper is 1 mm across. What is the diameter of the Sun's image? Distance from Sun to Earth Distance from Hole to image The Sun Pinhole Camera Image of The Sun Examining the geometry of the pin-hole camera shown in the figure above, you can see that if the distance to the Sun is known, we can use the similar triangles relationship to solve for the diameter of the Sun. That is, we have the following: VI.2 Diameter of the Image = Distance of Image from Hole Diameter of Sun Distance of Sun from Earth Determine the diameter of the Sun and compare this to the true value. Assume that the Earth is located at its average distance from the Sun. The Moon has roughly the same angular size as the Sun. We can use the similar triangles relationship again to determine the size of the Moon: Diameter of the Moon = Distance of Moon to Earth Diameter of Sun Distance of Sun to Earth VI.3 If the distance of the Moon to the Earth is about 390 times less than the distance between the Sun and the Earth, how big is the Moon? How close are you (within x percent) to the true value (which you can look up in the back of your textbook). Check to see if your number makes sense: the Moon's diameter is a little less than the width of the United States. Part VII. Solar and Lunar Eclipses Since the Sun and Moon have roughly the same angular size, it is possible for the Moon to block out the Sun as seen from Earth, causing a solar eclipse.

10 ASTR 1030 Astronomy Lab 74 Celestial Motions Balinese Hindus call Rahu, the eclipse demon, Kala Rau. In this scene Kala Rau is losing his head as he is discovered sipping from the elixir of immortality. In anger, he circles the sky in pursuit of the two informers- the Sun and Moon. When he catches either of them, his severed immortal head swallows them and an eclipse takes place. Then the ingested Sun or Moon drops out of Kala Rau s severed throat; and the eclipse is over. Part VIII. Motions of the Planets Five planets are easy to find with the naked eye: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Like the Sun and the Moon, the planets appear to move slowly through the constellations of the zodiac. (the word planet comes from the Greek for wandering star. ) However, although the Sun and Moon always appear to move eastward relative to the stars, the planets occasionally reverse course and appear to move westward through the zodiac. (this is called apparent retrograde motion.) This phenomena was a problem for ancient astronomers but today we know it is a consequence of the planets orbiting the Sun (heliocentric solar system). It wasn t until the 1500s that Copernicus worked out the details of a heliocentric solar system. He as also able to show whether the known planets were closer or further from the Sun than the Earth. Because Venus and Mercury are always observed to be fairly close to the Sun in the sky (i.e. we only see them near sunrise or sunset), they must have orbits interior to the Earth s. We call them inferior planets. Likewise, because Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn can be seen in the middle of the night, they must be further from the Sun than the Earth. These planets are called superior planets. We can use geometry to define certain positions for the planets in their orbits. Take a look at the diagram on the next page. This configuration is called a conjunction, meaning that a planet appears lined up with (i.e., in conjunction with) the Sun as seen from Earth.

11 ASTR 1030 Astronomy Lab 75 Celestial Motions Note that the inferior planets have two configurations called conjunction: superior conjunction when the planet is behind the sun as seen from Earth and inferior conjunction when the planet is between the Sun and Earth. VIII.1 Although Venus is as close to Earth as possible at inferior conjunction, it would not be a good time to observe the planet. Why not? VIII.2 The angle between the Sun and a planet as seen from the Earth is called elongation. So when a planet is at conjunction, its elongation is 0 o. When elongation is at its maximum value, we say that the planet is at greatest elongation. What is the greatest elongation for Venus? Refer to the diagram above for help. What assumption did you make in order to do your calculation? For the superior planets, we can also define a configuration called opposition when the elongation is 180 o. The diagram below shows Mars at opposition. Note that Mars can also be seen at conjunction (but Venus will never be seen at opposition).

12 ASTR 1030 Astronomy Lab 76 Celestial Motions VIII.3 When is a good time of day (or night) for humans to observe a planet in opposition? VIII.4 What phase does Mars show in opposition? In conjunction? The other configuration the superior planets exhibit is called quadrature. At this configuration the elongation is 90 o. VIII.5 Sketch the above diagram in your lab report, labeling the positions of Mars at conjunction, opposition, and quadrature. VIII.6 Which planets can show apparent retrograde motion, superior, inferior, or both? configuration must the planet be near? What

14 ASTR 1030 Astronomy Lab 78 Celestial Motions IX.3 At one particular time on one particular day of the year, solar clocks will exactly agree with sidereal clocks. When is this? Hint: After this time, the sidereal clock will gain about 1 second for every six minutes, or 2 hours for each month. By how much will the solar and sidereal clocks differ on New Year s Day? Part X. Follow-up Questions X.1 You may have noticed (and most certainly will by the end of the semester) that the peak altitude of the sun changes throughout the year. We know that the Earth rotates around the Sun in a flat plane and that the Sun is in the center of our solar system so why does its altitude change. Explain. Would you expect this change to be cyclical or random? Explain. X.2 The lunar month (the time to go from one full moon to the next) is approximately two days longer than the time it takes for the Moon to make one full circle around Earth. Why is this? X.3 The same face of the Moon always faces the Earth. Why? X.4 In question VIII.3 you calculated the greatest eastern elongation of Venus using the sizes of Venus and Earth s orbits. Working backwards (i.e. knowing the greatest elongations of the inferior planets) Copernicus was able to calculate the sizes of their orbits relative to the Earth s. Extra Credit: Using what you know about the different configurations of the superior (outer) planets, work out how Copernicus found the sizes of their orbits. Remember, Copernicus thought the planets all had circular orbits, and he knew how long it took them to orbit the Sun (e.g. sidereal period). X.5 Imagine you have just been put in charge of tonight s observing session. Your students will begin arriving at 9 pm and you need to have a list of objects for them to observe! The SBO catalog has a listing of observable objects by Right Ascension. Ask your TA for a copy of the catalog and make a list of 5 objects (give object name, type, RA, and dec) for your class to observe. Show all of your calculations in your lab report.

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