Charting the Planets,
the Sun and Eclipses
Do ONE of the following:
a sketch show the position of Venus, Mars, or Jupiter in the sky at approximately
weekly intervals at the same time for at least four weeks.
"The Sky" by Software
|* At Sky & Telescopes home page click on
observing>, then sky chart, then view sky chart. You may be asked
to register, which is FREE. The site is well worth searching.
||Find out which planets will be
visible during the next month. These may be found in Astronomy magazines
or on the Internet. Sky &
Telescope* has an excellent site.
If a planet is visible, go out at
night and find it according to the charts. On an 8x10 sheet of paper,
draw some familiar land marks or constellations. Now show where your
planet was located. Repeat this for a number of weeks.
a compass, record the direction to the sun at sunset at approximately weekly
intervals for at least four weeks in spring or fall (for six to eight weeks
in summer or winter) and relate this information to the seasons of the
you'll notice the errors
in the above example.
||Go outside just before the sun
sets. On an 8x10 sheet of paper, draw what the horizon looks like
(just for reference).
Using a compass, measure the angle
of the sun as it sets. Label the degrees you measure on your drawing
At weekly intervals, repeat the
process. Remember, 6-8 weeks in the summer or winter).
|(c) With the aid of diagrams
explain the relative positions of sun, Earth, and moon at the times of
lunar and solar eclipses and at the times of New, First Quarter, Full,
and Last Quarter phases of the moon.
|Stand in the bright sun and look
at the shadow your body casts. If you kneel down and take a closer
look you will see that the edges of the shadow are a little softer
or fuzzy and not as black as the middle of the shadow is.
Similarly, when the Earth or the Moon cast shadows on each other, the edges
are not as dark as the middle. The outer (softer) shadow is called
while the inside (darker) shadow is called the umbra.
During an eclipse, a body will start into the penumbra first, then and
umbra, and finally exit through the penumbra again.
and Solar Eclipses You may print out this helpful handout
containing both the lunar and solar eclipse drawings. Label the Sun, the
Earth, the Moon, the Umbra and both of the Penumbras.
Phases of the Moon shows the relationship of the Sun, Moon, and Earth
as the Moon rotates around the earth.
|This amazing photograph of the
moon's shadow passing over the earth's surface during a solar eclipse was
taken by the crew of the space station Mir 27. A larger photo along
with an explanation by the photographer may be found at "Astronomy
Picture of the Day."
Used by permission
|Notice that as the moon progresses through
the eclipse it turns gray when it enters the penumbra (partial eclipse),
turns reddish orange as it passes into the umbra (total eclipse), turns
gray as it starts to exit, and finally turns white again. Lunar eclipses
take place during a full moon.
To learn more: The
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[5-Galaxy & Constellations]
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Web page updated November 2003
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