Welcome Starry Night event visitors! We built this fun, interactive model of the merry-go-round Earth on the evening of March 3rd, 2018 around a real campfire. Read on for the background and teaching method.
The Earth is like a Merry-Go-Round
The Earth is like a merry-go-round showing us seasonal constellations
That iconic childhood ride. Round and round each day we go, round and round each year we go, where we stop nobody knows! When we look out from the edge of the ride we can see the space beyond. Sometimes the Sun occupies that space, and sometimes that space is the night sky filled with stars.Click here to continue reading…
Assuming you are not above the Arctic circle and not too close to the equator… if you could look right at the Sun (when the night is exactly half over) – by looking through the Earth – which cardinal direction would you be facing? East, West, North, or South?
Use this technique to understand how seasons happen on the Earth. The Earth is tilted. When the northern part (your forehead and eyes) tilts away from the Sun the season is winter. When the northern part tilts toward the Sun the season is summer.
The Earth is tilted as it spins daily – it is not straight up and down like a top, but more like the Leaning Tower of Pisa (if the tower could spin!). As it goes through its yearly orbit, the Sun hits the northern and then the southern parts of the Earth.
Tilt your head to tilt the Earth
In this model, when the northern part (your forehead and eyes) tilts away from the Sun the season is winter. When the northern part tilts toward the Sun the season is summer.
Did you like this season model? Any questions? Type in the comments to send me a message.
A “Life Star” is a visible star that could host life. This is a name I came up with in February 2017 (around the time of the TRAPPIST announcement) to describe visible stars with confirmed planets orbiting in the habitable zone. “Life Star” is easier to say and explain. I hope it catches on!Click here to continue reading…
Let’s do some Physical Astronomy. The experience will help you to understand the movement of the earth and sun through the seasons. You will build a scientific instrument that is also a fun garden decoration and you will be able to track the Groundhog’s Shadow all Spring!
Now, turn a little bit to the left, keeping both hands pointing at the sun.
Swing your left arm out until it is pointing in the opposite direction from the sunset. Bring your hands together again and repeat this swinging motion.
Bring your hands together again and point them both at the sun. This time, instead of swinging, bounce your left hand, leftward, some number of times… (14 is perfect if you can do it) …until it is pointing in the completely opposite direction from the Sun at sunset. Your left hand should now be pointing East.
Was the moon at any one of those 14 hand bounce spots? That is the age of the moon in days.
Hello! Find out more about Stellarium in this tutorial that introduces several of the cool and clever things this astronomy software can do.
Stellarium – a glorious gift to Humanity in software form – gives you super powers. And best of all … It’s FREE!
Always wanted to know the names of the stars and constellations? You can search, play, pan and zoom, examine, compare and anchor your knowledge.
It’s a cloudy night? No problem. You can see through the clouds!
Wished that the sky had labels on everything? Stellarium has 10 different label types.
Stop time? Move time by day, by week? Do you want to see what will happen in 2 months? Or look at the sky during the Pharoah’s reign? You can time travel.
You can easily drag and zoom, stop time, go in reverse, make a timelapse, follow the moon through its phases. You have a tool to help you understand the ecliptic and sidereal time and retrograde motion. You can see the great orbital swing of Venus as it circles the Sun.
Ok! I’m convinced by your Stellarium review. What should I do now? What’s my call to action?
Is what looks like sunset really the sun – “setting”?
What is that thing that happens every day that makes it look like sunset?
Can you change your mind easily? Are you flexible enough to understand that the same set of observations and facts can lead two different people to two different conclusions?
For a long time, everyone on the Earth thought the Sun was moving and the Earth was staying still. This is just what it looks like and anyone who dared to suggest a different view might easily be considered odd, or worse, dangerous. Having the benefit of hundreds of years of scientific evidence and wisdom to back up my observations, I now have the luxury of believing that it is the Earth that is moving and that the Sun is the one standing still.
It is fun to imagine being carried through space on the surface of a giant ball. Definitely better than staying still while the sun careens through the sky each day. With this image in my mind, I feel the Earth is carrying me away from the view of the Sun.
Sunset should be called “away sun” and not “sun set” because it is me moving, not the sun. It is me being carried away into the shadows forming behind the bulge of the Earth, not the Sun setting. I am riding the Earth with its great round bulk between me and the Sun.
It’s NOT a sunset but me… rushing backwards… at 1000 mph as the bulge of the earth grows in between.
I propose “awaysun” as the new name for sunset and “towardsun” as the name for sunrise. These new names help solidify the idea that we are the ones moving.