Celestial Sphere. Celestial Coordinates. Lecture 3: Motions of the Sun and Moon. ecliptic (path of Sun) ecliptic (path of Sun)

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1 Lecture 3: Motions of the and Moon ecliptic (path of ) ecliptic (path of ) The 23.5 degree tilt of Earth s spin axis relative to its orbital axis around the causes the seasons Celestial Sphere Celestial Coordinates The path of the through the sky is called the Ecliptic 1

2 Constellations Celestial Coordinates Celestial Sphere animation Ecliptic animation View from the Northern Hemisphere View from the Equator looking north View from the Equator looking south Retrograde motion of Mars Solar System animation Diurnal Motion Earth s daily rotation causes the stars to sweep out circular paths in the sky North Celestial Pole (star is Polaris) This is called Diurnal Motion objects rise in the east, set in the West North Celestial Pole is extension of Earth s spin axis into space 2

3 Apparent Motion of the The 23.5 degree tilt of Earth s spin axis causes the to move north and south across the Celestial Equator during the year. Earth s spin axis Earth Celestial equator Earth s orbit Apparent Motion of the The 23.5 degree tilt of Earth s spin axis causes the to move north and south across the Celestial Equator during the year. This produces the seasons due to the variation of the heating received by the North and South hemispheres on Earth. Seasonal Constellations Due to the Earth s motion around the, different constellations are visible at night during the year 3

4 The Celestial Sphere Celestial Coordinates Declination (DEC) works like Cosmic Latitude Be careful with units! DEC is measured using angular units: degrees ( O ), arcminutes ( ), arc-seconds ( ) For example, for Betelgeuse in Orion, DEC = 17 degrees, 24 minutes The range of DEC values is between 90 degrees (South Celestial Pole) to +90 degrees (North Celestial Pole) Right Ascension (RA) works like Cosmic Longitude Due to the Earth s 24 hour rotation, Right Ascension is measured in time units Celestial Coordinates Polaris 60 O DEC North Celestial Pole (90 O DEC) 45 O DEC 18 RA 21 RA 30 O DEC 15 RA 0 O DEC 12 RA -30 O DEC -45 O DEC -60 O DEC 3 RA 0 RA Ecliptic Celestial Equator (0 O DEC) Vernal Equinox (0 Hours RA) South Celestial Pole (-90 O DEC) 4

5 Degrees, Minutes, Seconds Sidereal Day and Solar Day RA is measured using time units: hours, minutes, seconds This is because RA is related to the rotation of the Earth The Earth rotates in 24 hours but NOT solar hours! We use Sidereal Time in astronomy relative to the stars, the Earth rotates once every 24 Sidereal Hours 1 Solar Day = 24 hours 1 Sidereal Day = 24 hours - 4 min 1 Sidereal Day=24 Sidereal Hours 1 sidereal day later Phases of the Moon 5

6 Orbit of the Moon The Moon revolves around the Earth with a period of approximately one month It always keeps the same face pointed towards Earth This is a tidally locked orbit Earth Moon Orbit of Moon Orbit of the Moon The Moon s orbit is not in the same plane as Earth s orbit around the (it is tilted by 5.2 o ) therefore alignments of the Earth, Moon, and are not usually exact The lunar orbit is not perfectly circular Earth Moon Orbit of Moon 6

7 Motion of the Moon The time between stellar alignments (the sidereal period of the lunar orbit) is 27.3 (solar) days, or one Sidereal Month The time between Earth-Moon- alignments is 29.5 (solar) days, or one Synodic Month 1 synodic month later Distant Star Moon 1 sidereal month later Earth Orbit of Moon starting point Eclipses Eclipses 7

8 Eclipses Can occur only if the alignment is precise (Earth, Moon, and line up exactly) The Moon s orbit is tilted by 5.2 o relative to the ecliptic Eclipses are infrequent because the Moon, Earth, and must lie along the Line of Nodes, which is the intersection of the two orbital planes Line of Nodes Solar Eclipse Eclipses Eclipses can be Lunar (Moon becomes darker) or Solar ( becomes darker) Eclipses occur during Eclipse Season, when the Earth and are on the Line of Nodes, which happens twice a year We do NOT see eclipses during every eclipse season because the Moon is usually not in the right place! Line of Nodes No Eclipse Solar Eclipse 8

9 Solar Eclipse The region of totality is called the umbra about 270 km across The region in which the appears partially blocked is called the penumbra, bout 7,000 km across Solar Eclipse lasts about 7.5 minutes at one location Annular Eclipse The Moon s orbit is slightly eccentric (non-circular) If the Moon is far away in its orbit during an eclipse, it doesn t completely block the, resulting in an Annular Eclipse Lunar Eclipse Lunar eclipses last about 100 minutes 9

10 Solar Eclipse Tracks Solar eclipses begin at sunrise in the West The Moon s shadow moves from West to East at 1,700 km per hour per hour due to the orbital motion of the Moon Precession The Earth spins like a top, and therefore it precesses due to the gravitational pull of the Moon and The period of precession is about 26,000 years Precession changes the direction of the North Celestial Pole This alters the coordinates of all celestial objects, and changes the time of year for the seasons It also causes the Line of Nodes to rotate, making eclipse season about 20 days earlier each year 10

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