Modules 1 and 2 Outcomes Covered:
Describe the motion of the Earth, Sun, Moon and Planets in space and explain how those motions appear from a specific point of view on Earth (F, N)
Relate the motions of celestial objects to our time-keeping systems; the day, month and year (C, D, E, F, L, M, N)
Distinguish what can be found on the Celestial Sphere and relate that to motions of the sky (I, N)
Identify and recognize the software tools and instruments to be used in labs (L)
Make predictions of everyday and planetary motion using Kepler’s Laws, Conservation Laws and the Universal Law of Gravity (C, D, E, G)
Binoculars (or telescope) See Laboratory Instructions under the Syllabus Module for specific information.
Print out (3) three Moon Observation Form(Word.doc format) OR Moon Observation Form (.rtf format).(Points will be lost if you do not use this form. Make sure the grid with the moon tilts and the circle below it prints out.)
Two to three blank sheets of paper
Digital camera or scanner
Read the Laboratory Instructions (in the Syllabus Module) which will tell you how to submit this lab. Also read through the Midterm Project Rubric linked under Tools, which will tell you how this project will be graded. Be sure to read this full document before starting.
Total Time Required to Complete This Project:3 weeks at the most. It will be stated in your course Schedule when to begin your observations. (~2 weeks to do observations and 1 week to write the paper portion.) For Exercise 1, each of the 14 observations should take less than 5 minutes per night. For Exercise 2, each of the 3 observations will take ~45 minutes which includes making the sketch and researching the features to complete the lab sheet. For Exercise 3, ~30 minutes.
Students Requesting Accommodations:Students requesting accommodations for the observations portion of this lab and to do an alternative assignment need to present a formal Accommodation request.
LATE WORK POLICY: The no late work policy will be strictly followed for this assignment. If you have any issues completing the observations contact your instructor ASAP.
Pre-Exploration Study and Information
The Moon is Earth’s constant companion. Sometimes it is visible during the day, sometimes at night, and we see it go through various phases: New Moon, Waxing Crescent, First Quarter, Waxing Gibbous, Full Moon, etc. We find that this is all due to the moon orbiting the Earth. This lab should help you understand the Moon/Earth/Sun relationship. This lab will also introduce you to the lunar features (craters, mare, etc.) on the moon’s surface along with some of the important missions that have journeyed to the moon.
Exercise 1: Observe the Moon
NOTE: you can start with a hand drawn table IN PENCIL (cells filled in and your moon simple sketches), but then you must type your data for your report and you can include a clear picture of your moon sketches. Please check this before you submit your report.
For 14 consecutive days, observe the Moon at roughly the same time and place each night and record your data. It will be noted in your course Schedule when you are to begin these observations. You will need to recreate Table 1 in your own document. Be sure to use a blank sheet of paper. Space out the row heights to allow for the simple sketch required. NOTE: It is fine for you to hand write this table and use it to make your observations, drawing your simple sketch of the moon. But then for your final report you need to type out the data and submit a clear image of your hand drawn table.
Complete all fields in Table 1. The Altitude is the number of degrees that the Moon is above the horizon, this value will be 90 degrees or less (see the end of Exercise 2 for helpful information). The Azimuth/Direction is the point on the horizon in the direction of the Moon. For this assignment please use compass points for this value, for example, SW, SE, WSW, etc. (Note: Both your altitude values and directionals should all be estimated by you and should not be gathered from any app or computer program. Any sketches should be done with a pencil). Here is an example of your “Simple Sketch” that is shaded, and please make sure to include the tilt that you see!
If the sky is cloudy and you can’t see the moon, simply write “CLOUDY” for the exception and put a line through that row and observe for one additional night (add a row) to make up for each night lost. You need to make up each “CLOUDY” night with an actual observation of the moon.
If you make some of your observations from a location more than 100 miles from where you started, please note the new location in that row. You may note this on the Exceptions line of the table or with each separate observation not made at the primary location.
If you will need to change the time of your observations when the moon is no longer visible at the the time you were observing. Please note the new time in the first column under the date. Depending on the Moon-rise and Moon-set times, you may need to switch from evening to morning observations.
For three of the dates that you make your observations, also make a detailed observation and sketch (using a pencil) of the Moon using binoculars or a telescope (making sure you can see the entire moon through your eyepiece). These observations and sketches may be made at a different time than the observations you make for the table. Try to make these detailed observations several days apart so that you are sketching noticeably different phases of the Moon. For these three observations you may not use an observation of when the moon is a very thin crescent. The phase must be 2 – 3 days before or after a New Moon (Note in your Course Schedule for when you will be asked to start your observations). See Exercise 2 for more details.
Table 1 – Observations of the Moon
Observation of the Moon Data Sheet
Location (city, state): _________________________________________________________
General Time of Nightly Observation:________________________________________
Date and exact time:
Simple sketch (includes
only shading and tilt):
Altitude (0° to 90°)
Approximate Azimuth (Direction)
* Add more rows for any cloudy nights that you need to make up.
Exercise 2: Detailed Observation of the Moon
Using the three Observation sheets that you print out make three detailed sketches, using a pencil, of the Moon (of the allowed phases). Include the below:
Your sketch of the moon should fill the circle outline provided on the observation sheet.
Include any of the dark mare that you see along with many of the larger craters, these are called lunar features (you will need to note 15 different features minimum, 5 for each observation). Your drawing should be detailed enough so that the 5 features you are noting are clearly recognizable. This means you will want to draw groups of craters that surround those features, etc.
Be sure to include how the moon is tilted, be sure to draw it exactly how you see it. See this example: MoonObs Example.pdf (right click on the link to open in a new window). And then also circle the matching moon in the chart of phases.
Record the date, time, your location, direction, altitude, moon phase and equipment you used to make the observation.
Examples of equipment: binoculars, refracting telescope, or reflecting telescope (definitions of these types of telescopes can be found in your textbook). See General Laboratory Instructions under the Start Here! folder for specific information.
Please describe your binoculars in terms of their specifications (magnification and aperture). You’ll generally see two numbers printed on your binoculars, the first number refers to the magnification (power) and the second to the size of the objective lens in millimeters. Common specs are 10×50, 7×35, etc.
And if using a telescope you need to be able to see the full moon in your eyepiece. Please be sure to report your mirror/lens diameter and what eyepiece you are using.
Please see the document Start Here/General Laboratory Instructions for further information.
For each of the observations you will list (highlight) 5 different features, not repeating a feature used on another observation. (Remember, a feature is a mare, crater, etc. – you must research and look up the specific name of the feature you sketched.) On each observation please sketch more than 5 features. You can sketch the same features on more than one observation but you still need to be able list/highlight 5 different features on each observation. It is often helpful to sketch a group of features that you see together, this will help you later to find them on a lunar map.
For the Description of Features for each observation (Type this and submit in document form.):
Describe in words the appearance of the Moon including its phase and any specific features.
Make note of some of the specific features on your drawing including dark and light areas, craters, mountains, etc. Using a Moon Map find the formal name of many of the major features. Include any references that you use.
Estimating the Altitude of the Moon
To measure altitude, simply use your fists. Do not use a computer program, only your fists and eyes. Start by holding one fist out in front of you with your arm fully stretched out like you are holding a vertical rope, and your arm and body making a 90 degree angle. This allows for the bottom of your fist to be “sitting” on the horizon in front of you. (From top to bottom, a fist at arm’s length is about ten degrees on the sky.) Start climbing this imaginary rope with one fist over another, touching. Count the number of “fists” from the horizon up to the moon. So, if you counted 5 fists then your altitude would be 50 degrees, 6.5 fists would be 65 degrees, etc. If the horizon involves trees, buildings or a mountain, estimate where the horizon would actually be if there were no trees, mountains or buildings and use that as the starting point for your measurement. It will be important that you are able to measure the altitude within one fist (~10 degrees).
Exercise 3: Formal Paper
A minimum three page research paper regarding Lunar Science will be part of the project. The content of the paper must include
A brief narrative on the theories of how the Earth’s Moon was formed. Include the parameters that would be needed to create the Earth-Moon system that we see today. Be sure to include details about how the theories explain features of the Moon.
A brief description of the Apollo Moon Landing program is to be included concentrating on the landing sites and most important discoveries (including analysis of the lunar material brought back to Earth).
If the Apollo missions visited any of your 15 major features from your observations make sure to mention which ones.
Finally, include a brief summary of the 3 most recent missions to the moon (US and other countries) making sure to note any important discoveries.
The paper must have an introduction and conclusion, be well organized, and have a professional appearance. (No abstract needed.)
The paper needs to be a least 3 pages, in APA format, and it should be double-spaced, with Times New Roman font size 12 and 1-inch margins (excluding work cited, tables, and figures). Students who plagiarize any portion of their final paper will receive a zero for the entire assignment. Using a paper written for a previous class is not allowed. The in-text citations and reference page should be correctly formatted using APA style: http://guides.libraries.psu.edu/apaquickguide/intext. Spelling and grammatical errors will be penalized.
Modules 1 and 2 Outcomes Covered: