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?
Answer and Explanation
This quiz tests an observer’s ability to think about cardinal directions at the same time paying attention to meridian, time, and hemispherical location.
When we see the Sun “rising” in the morning at dawn we are facing the east.
When we see the Sun “setting” at the end of the day we are facing the west.
When we look at the Sun at noon in the northern hemisphere we are facing south.
SPOILER ALERT — And when we look at the Sun – as if the Earth were transparent – at midnight in the northern hemisphere we are facing north.
In the southern hemisphere sunrise and sunset appear in the same cardinal directions (East and West). But as we pretend that we can look through the Earth at the Sun… at midnight… we are facing south. See the diagram below.
I welcome any and all observation and feedback on this quiz!
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Translation of Star In A Star Physical Astronomy articles
All of the articles about Physical Astronomy here at Star In A Star can be automatically translated. This amazing Google Translate widget lets you choose any language.
Try it out!
For a bit of fun today… Here is a list of languages and the phrase “Star In A Star” in that language. I particularly like the languages where the word “star” changes slightly if it is inside another star (in Bosnian:zvezda u zvezdu). Also, I am fond of non-roman script languages – just for how beautiful they look ( this is Lao: ດາວໃນດາວ ).
Physical Astronomy is a new way of teaching astronomy that emphasizes the human body and its relationship to other moving objects in space. The goal is to bring geometric and scientific awareness to a child’s everyday sky observations. Kids learn easily visible sky motions at a “kid’s eye level.”
The Sun does not move… we move
One of the first steps in Physical Astronomy is to forget you ever heard the words “Sunset” or “Sunrise.” These words (while rife with history, beautiful in their own right, and descriptive) are scientifically wrong. These words obscure the truth of our trip around the Sun. We are on the Earth, the Earth is spinning; the Sun appears to be moving, but it is us moving.
From the outset Physical Astronomy challenges you to reconsider long-held perceptions. It challenges you to trade them for curiosity, scientific thinking, and observation.
Foundations of Physical Astronomy
Physical Astronomy means learning basic astronomy concepts with a Kinesthetic approach: your body is on the Earth but traveling in space. While we are actually traveling in many directions at the same time the daily perception of our direction is of traveling “under the sun.” Through imagination and knowledge, you can see your place within the motions of the Earth, Sun, Moon, stars, and galaxies.
Science and the Scientific Method are the foundations of Physical Astronomy. Teaching methods, tools, and models scale Astronomy concepts to human size. Imagination transports us beyond our current understanding.
The Future of Physical Astronomy
I would like each child to get a little bit closer to understanding advanced but fundamental physical concepts like light speed, orbits, phases, star distance. The goal is to offer very early involvement with physics and motion. This early exposure to the idea of the speed of light can give a future adult a natural base of understanding.
For most of human existence we earthlings did not know that we lived on the surface of a giant sphere. My goal with this new way of teaching astronomy is to bring curious young minds fun, high-quality, experiential, developmentally tuned lessons for getting involved in the process of scientific discovery.
My intent is to build a strong and scientifically accurate conceptual foundation in a child’s mind. This will bring a passionate and articulate dedication to astronomy specifically, and science in general.
The next Halley, Herschel, Hubble, Einstein, or Hawking.
I have always been captivated by the sky. And I’ve come to realize that even though everyone has some knowledge of what’s “up there” (no matter how much absolute knowledge someone possesses) they always want to know more. The study of the sky is endless! There are so many ways to bring that sense of depth to more and more kids. Let’s continue so that we nurture the development of our next Halley, Herschel, Hubble, Einstein, or Hawking.
I have a big goal with my Physical Astronomy education programs: to encourage people to see the world from a new perspective and to transform them.
We do this by offering repeatable experiences – personal science experiences – that shape the way we perceive our particular place in the universe.
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.
When I came back to the US from living in Australia for 4 years, I published a poster with a picture of the moon on in and I placed it “upside down” – someone pointed it out and I looked at the moon and said “the moon is upside down.” This was true – in the Northern Hemisphere – but to people living in the Southern Hemisphere the moon appears “upside down.”
I was shocked, but the claim was true – in the Northern Hemisphere! But to Australians and other people living in places in the Southern Hemisphere the moon appears “upside down.”
Most people, when they look up at the night sky can easily see stars and identify some familiar groups of stars (asterisms and constellations). Some people can even find and name some planets – Venus, Jupiter, and Mars are all bright and easy to see.
But, there are many invisible wonders in the sky – and some of them can be seen without a telescope. In fact they are so big that a telescope is not the right tool to use; we have to use something even more powerful… imagination!
Using visualization and imagination, I am going to show you how to find and “see” a very large structure in our sky: the solar system disk itself.