# Activity 10 - Universal Time

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1 Activity 10 - Universal Time Teacher s Guide Scientists use the Universal Time reference to talk about data that is taken around the globe. Universal Time is the time kept in the time zone centered on Greenwich, England (longitude zero). Universal Time does not participate in daylight savings time, so there is no springing forward or falling back one hour during the year. UT times are given in terms of a 24-hour clock. Thus, 14:42 is 2:42 p.m., and 21:17 is 9:17 p.m. As an example of how to compare times in different time zones to universal time, in the winter when it is 6:00 am in Oregon, it is 7:00 am in Montana, 9:00 am in Pennsylvania, and 14:00 Universal Time. Goals 1. Students will translate their local time to times in other zones around the world. 2. Students will work with the concept of Universal Time. picture? Materials Either Globe Ping-pong ball Class reading Two worksheet handouts One of the most common tasks that astronomers have to perform involves calculating times in different time zones. When one astronomer observes a phenomenon from a particular place on Earth, it is often important to be able to communicate when exactly that phenomenon occurred to another astronomer located somewhere else on Earth. To make this as easy as possible, we adopt the time of the phenomenon as it would have been observed in Greenwich England called Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) or Universal Time (UT). This requires converting the astronomer s local time to UT. Note to Teachers: Time zone math is a challenge for most people, including seasoned travelers, because intuitively it makes no sense why times are earlier or later than what the clock on your wall indicate, depending on which direction east to west you travel. Procedure Review with your students that Earth rotates from west to east. Show them a globe, and then have a student hold a small ball (ping pong ball) a few meters from the globe. Explore the relationship 5

3 Student Name Date Universal Time The above diagram shows the 24 time zones around the world. If you live in New York and want to call someone in San Francisco, you have to remember that the local time in San Francisco (Pacific Standard Time) is three hours BEHIND New York Time (Eastern Standard Time). By counting the time zones between the locations and keeping track of ahead or behind you, you can figure out the correct local times anywhere on the planet. Suppose an astronomer in Texas is viewing the Sun with a special solar filter to protect her eyes and notices a bright flash coming from a spot on the Sun (a solar flare) at 6:00 AM Central Standard Time near sunrise. Meanwhile, an astronomer in India spots the same solar flare at 17:00 India Time near sunset. Answer the following questions: 1) How can exactly the same event be seen at two different times on Earth? 2) What time would an astronomer with a solar telescope in West Africa (in the z time zone) have seen the same solar flare according to his local time? 7 continued on next page

4 3) What time in Universal Time (UT) did the solar flare occur? 4) Would an astronomer with a solar telescope in Central Australia have seen the flare? How about an astronomer in Alaska? 5) Suppose a solar flare happened at 10:31 UT. What time would the event have happened in California according to Pacific Standard Time? 6) A satellite registers a major solar explosion that lasts from 15:15 to 16:26 UT. A solar scientist monitoring the satellite data decided to go grab a cup of coffee between 7:00 AM and 7:45 AM Pacific Standard Time. a) How long did the explosion last? b) Did the scientist know about the flare before he left for coffee? c) How much of the flare event did the scientist get to see in the satellite data as it happened? d) Should the scientist have gone for coffee? 8

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