Galaxy, Stars & Constellations
Identify in the sky at least 10 constellations, four of which are in the
zodiac. Identify at least eight conspicuous stars, five of which
are of first magnitude.
To learn about a constellation
& its stars,
|Many of us are able to recognize
"The Big Dipper" in the northern skies, but did you know that it is NOT
a constellation, but rather an asterism
(an easily recognizable figure in the sky often made up of bright stars
from one or more constellations).
in a sketch the position of the Big Dipper and its relation to the North
Star and the horizon early some evening and again six hours later the same
night. Record the date and time of making each sketch.
|Start in the evening as soon as
you can see the North Star. On a sheet of paper, draw some of the
horizon as you face North
(just to give you some orientation). Think of a large clock in the
sky with the North Star at the very center. Straight up is 12:00,
to your right is 3:00, down is 6:00, and left is 9:00. Sketch the
Big Dipper and North Star as they appear in the sky. It helps greatly
to include the "W" (Cassiopeia) on the opposite side of the Big Dipper.
Below the Big Dipper write down the time of the first sketch. That's
the easy part. Now, six hours later...wake
North Star will have remained stationary, but where is the Big Dipper
now? Try to locate it and sketch it again. It may be very
helpful to look for and sketch the "W" again if you are having trouble.
Below the 2nd Big Dipper sketch write down the time of your 2nd observation.
NOTE: How far
did the Big Dipper seem to rotate? In what direction did it seem
to rotate. Did the skies seem less familiar to you than before?
Remember, the stars did not
rotate, but the Earth's rotation gave us that illusion. As the earth
makes its yearly trip around the sun, we see different stars along the
way. The summer stars we see at 4:00 a.m. in the morning are those
that will actually be seen three months later at 10:00 p.m.!
Explain what we see when we look at the Milky Way.
|On dark, clear nights we can often
see a faint, hazy band of light studded with millions of stars and stretching
across the sky from north to south. We are actually looking sideways
through the Milky Way, the galaxy in which we live.
Sky describes the Milky Way as, "A bright
band that encircles the entire night sky. The Milky Way is, in fact, the
main body of our own spiral galaxy, viewed from within: binoculars or a
telescope will resolve individual stars in the bright mass." This site
has excellent photos, drawing, and descriptions of our galaxy.
Click on Galaxies
and then click on Milky
Way (center column).
To get a feeling of how LARGE
our galaxy is, try visiting
Big Is Space. Click on the green
arrow next to the sleeping man and you'll
zoom further and further and further out into the universe. It's
Return to: [ Astronomy
Merit Badge ]
[3-Planets, Sun &
& Constellations] [6-Telescopes]
[7-Sun & Stars]
[FYI-For Your Information]
Animated graphics by Animation
Webpage updated November 2003