Moon Project NATS 1740 (Online)

Moon Project NATS 1740 (Online)

Purpose:
• To gain insight into the moon’s changing appearance and location in the sky over a sufficient
period of time to see most of a lunar cycle, by recording observations at regular times and
locations.
• To experience directly the role of consistent observations as a starting point for scientific inquiry.
Tasks in this Project:
• Initial prediction (‘hunch’) about Moon’s shape and motion
• Observations of the Moon (no telescope required!)
• Recordings of the observations on a landscape and observing logs
• Answers to questions based on observations
Important Dates:
Hunch Quiz Availability June 8 – 16
Observing Cycle 1 June 17 – July 15
Project Due Date July 19
How to Submit:
• Hunch Quiz: completed in Moodle (from the course home page) [Part 1]
• Observations:
o two photo landscapes, with a sequence of 4 Moon observations on each landscape,
are to be scanned in and uploaded as digital files. (files should be named
LandscapeTTN and LandscapeNTN); [Parts 3A and 4A]
o observing logs are to be completed in the tables provided in the original Word
document, and uploaded as separate Word files. (files should be named LogTTN
and LogNTN each) [Parts 3B and 4B]
• Typed Responses: completed in the provided Word file, and uploaded as separate files. (files
should be named QuestionsTTN, QuestionsNTN, QuestionsConclusion) [Parts 3C, 4C, 5]
Moon Project NATS 1740 (Online)
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A note on drawing landscapes:
The diagram at right shows a horizon and
moon location typical of almost anywhere in
mid northern latitudes. It shows the Moon with
a given shape and position in the sky, on some
date and time. Note that for landscapes such as
these, cardinal directions (East, West, South,
North) are always shown along the
horizon/ground, to represent a curved, 3-
dimensional space around us (the domed sky)
as projected onto a flat 2-dimensional picture.
Your observations will also be drawn on a
landscape with these directions, but with a
different landscape filled in, to match your individual local observing site.
Part 1: What’s Your Hunch?
Your Task(s):
Before proceeding with the observations, complete the following task in Moodle.
1. Moon Project Hunch quiz (on the course home page in Moodle), consisting of four questions, asking
you to predict how both the shape and position of the Moon would (or would not) change if it were
observed 2 days before and 2 days after the observation shown in this image, at exactly the same time
of day. (Note that your hunch will not be graded for accuracy of answers, but simply for completion.)
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Part 2: Instructions for Observing, Recording and Reporting
Plan, plan, plan ahead!
This project will depend not only on you doing your work, but also on two other
variables outside of your control: weather and phases of the Moon. For these reasons, it
will be CRITICAL for you to plan your observing sessions ahead, and to take advantage
of every single clear night/morning/day available for observations, as soon as possible.
You will make two sets of observations, called through-the-night (TTN) and night-to-night (NTN),
recorded on two separate landscape drawings and described in two separate observing logs.
What you will need:
• Location to observe the moon from, such that you can come back to it for all of your
observations. (home, work, school – anywhere!) Observations must be done from the same
observing site, with a view toward the south, without too many obstructions along the horizon.
• Schedule your time such that you can see the moon from the same location at the same time
over several nights (or mornings or days, depending on the current phase of the Moon), to
complete your night-to-night observing sequence.
• Photos of your landscape, with you included in this photo-landscape (taken during the day).
Take two or three photos of your landscape, spanning directions from east to west, and stitch
them together into a single panoramic view, glued or pasted over a bigger sheet of paper. You
will later draw in your moon observations on top of your landscape, on the blank paper above the
photos. (Or, this ‘stitching’ can also be done digitally with a photo-editing software.)
• Accurately labeled directions (east-south-west), to faithfully represent the local directions at
your observing site, for each observing sequence. You can use a compass to map the local
directions, or study maps of your local address to figure out which way is east-west, south-north.
• Measuring tool to estimate, as accurately as possible, the change in position of the Moon. A
variety of tools – with different degrees of accuracy – can be used, such as the human finger and
hand at extended arm’s length (see textbook), ruler at extended arm’s length, compass, etc.
• Knowledge of when the Moon will be ‘up’ (above horizon) during the different parts of the
current lunar cycle, so that your observations can be made successfully (provided that the
weather is clear enough to see the Moon.) I will provide suggested ‘best times’ for moon
observations for each week of a single lunar cycle, in the general ‘Moon Project’ discussion
folder.
Tip: Remember that a single observation takes no more than a few minutes to complete, so do not delay making
observations – take advantage of each clear night/morning/afternoon as early as possible! The rest of the project
requires observations to be completed first, so this should be your first priority as soon as the project is released.
(Clear nights/mornings/afternoons can be hard to come by sometimes!)
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2A: Through The Night (TTN) Observations of the Moon
The TTN Journal is for recording observations of the moon through the night, evening,
or a morning, over a single 3-hour period. The complete TTN observing sequence needs
to be done only once for full credit (but extras are always encouraged!).
Your Task(s):
Complete and record four (4) observations of the moon, spanning at least 3 hours (from start to finish),
separated by 1 hour each, over the course of one night (or morning or afternoon).
For example: on a particular night (say Monday), you observe the moon at 6pm, 7pm, 8pm, and 9pm to
complete the TTN journal, and record all these observations on the same single TTN landscape.
2B: Night to Night (NTN) Observations of the Moon
The NTN Journal is for recording observations of the moon made from night to night, at the same
time of night (or morning or afternoon, depending on the current phase of the moon), within the same
lunar (observing) cycle. There are two possible ways to complete the NTN Journal.
Your Task(s):
Option 1: Complete and record one sequence of four (4) observations of the moon, on 4 separate nights
(or mornings or afternoons), at the same time of day for all observations (within 5-10 minutes of each
other).
For example: you observe the moon at 8pm on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to complete
the NTN journal, and record all these observations on the same single NTN landscape.
OR
Option 2: Complete and record two sequences (A and B) of 3 observations each, taken on 6 separate
nights (or mornings or afternoons), such that the 3 observations in sequence A are all done at the same
time, and the 3 observations in sequence B are all also done at the same time, but the time of
observations between sequence A and B can be different.
For example: you observe the moon at 9pm on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday (sequence A), and then in
a later part of its cycle at 7am on Wednesday, Friday, Sunday (sequence B); record all these
observations on the same single NTN landscape.
Important Note for NTN observations:
They do NOT have be done on consecutive nights, but must be done at the SAME TIME OF DAY
(even if there are ‘missing days’ between observations, due to bad weather, etc). If you have completed
3 NTN observations at same time (example: 9pm), but the moon is no longer up at this time (due to its
advancement along the lunar cycle), then you will need to start a second sequence of 3 additional
observations, at a new time (example: 7am).
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2C: Recording Observations
Landscape creation (in parts 3A and 4A)
Your landscape must include the proper cardinal directions (east-south-west) accurately matched to your
location, and landscape features (buildings, trees, power lines, hills, and any other landmarks that will
help you locate the Moon on your diagram).
Insttructtiions ffor tthe Phottographiic Landscape
• Take a wide-angle photo or several connected photos during daylight from the exact location
observations will be made, showing an observer’s view of the landscape.
• Your landscape photo must include you in the photo as well, facing the camera, to confirm your local
observing site. (Ask a friend or another classmate to take a photo of you in the landscape.)
• Print the photo(s) on paper, cut and stitch them together to create a ‘wide-angle’ panoramic view.
• Indicate with arrows or tick marks, along your horizon, the exact positions of the main cardinal
directions you were facing during your observations, such as south, south-west, south-east. There
must be at least 3 exact positions for the directions labeled on your landscape.
• You can either sketch your ‘moons’ above your photo-landscape, or, if possible, take photos of the
moon itself and paste on top of your photo-landscape.
• Alternatively to printing-and-scanning, you can keep the whole landscape in digital form, by
joining the images together in graphic software, completing the same requirements for labeling of
directions and moon positions as above.
Recording of Observations on the Landscapes (in parts 3A and 4A)
Each recording of a moon observation in the Landscape should include:
• a drawing of the moon in its current phase at the accurate position in the sky relative to the landmarks
in your landscape, labeled with a number corresponding to its record in the observing log (in parts 3B
and 4B).
• estimated separation of the ‘moons’ observed at different times/dates, using your particular
‘measuring tool’ (hand/fingers, ruler, etc). See eText p.27, Fig. 2.7 for example of handmeasurements.
(Final measurements must ultimately be expressed in degrees.)
• estimated direction of the moon (eg: S-E), and estimated altitude (or height above horizon, in
degrees) of the moon, using your particular ‘measuring tool’ (hand/fingers, ruler, etc).
• a dashed line connecting all your observations from ‘start to finish’, on the same landscape, showing direction
of motion with an arrow. (i.e. you should have 4 moons drawn/photographed on your one single landscape.)
Recording of Observations in the Observing Logs (in parts 3B and 4B)
Each recording of a moon observation in the appropriate Observing Log table should include:
• date and time of this particular observation
• sketch of the shape and orientation of the Moon as observed (this could show more detailed features
of the moon than could be shown in the landscape drawings) – or, your own photo of the moon.
• any additional features observed close to the moon, such as bright stars or planets
• the weather (cloud cover, temperature, etc)
• anything else unusual and/or interesting you observe about the Moon or the sky
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2D: Reporting (answering questions)
To complete the assignment, answer the questions for each TTN and NTN sequences in a Word
document (parts 3C and 4C). Questions are already provided in these parts; you can simply type
your responses between questions, in blue font.
2E: Other Useful Notes
Tracking the Weather
All well-prepared astronomers need to track the weather on a regular basis, to make informed decisions
on whether or not observations will be possible on any given night. Remember that clouds move, and a
cloudy sky at 6pm might become clear enough by 7pm for you to observe the moon. T he following
websites will be useful for tracking weather over Toronto; alternative locations are also possible.
Satellite and Radar Images:
http://www.theweathernetwork.com/index.php?product=satradarmaps&pagecontent=satradarmaps&map
_strd=on&genre_strd=satrad&idx_strd=12&animatemaps=true
Provides the latest satellite (cloud cover) and radar (precipitation) images to help
you track the major weather patterns in your location: (Click the ‘play’ button at
the bottom of this map, to animate it with the latest images.)
Short-term and Long-term General Weather Forecasts:
http://www.theweathernetwork.com/weather/caon0696/
Provides a very general forecast (‘cloudy’ or ‘clear’) for the next few days.
However, always keep in mind that these are forecasts (estimates/predictions), and not certainties. The
real weather can – and often does – change on short-notice. Use the short-term forecast here in
conjunction with the satellite/radar maps above, to make informed decisions… however, always be ready
to take advantage of each clear-sky opportunity. (Go outside and check the sky yourself, ‘manually’.)
Creative Extras
Don’t resist the urge to become creative and respond artistically, poetically or musically – or any other
type of ‘creative expression’, which need not be ‘artistic’ only – to a particularly spectacular moonlit
night, or complete more than the minimum number of observations. There is room for ‘extra
compensation’ for ‘extra effort’ and/or creativity (up to 5% bonus marks on the project).
Made-up Observations
However, do resist the urge to become creative in making up observations based on where you think the
moon should be and what it should look like – or, by looking it up in web sources – since this is a form
of academic dishonesty. It is only fair to warn you in advance that I will be able to easily identify
made-up observations, you will not be able to argue your way against it, and I will assign heavy
penalties for them. It is far better to take minor deductions on missing an observation, rather than
making it up.
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Part 3A: TTN Journal – Landscape
A Record of the Moon’s Location and Appearance through a given night/morning/afternoon.
Create your photographic landscape (see Part 2C for instructions), and then add your moon
observations/drawings on it. Put all the observations of the Moon from the same sequence on the
same landscape, so that the movement of the moon can be clearly seen.
(Note that once completed, you will need to scan this landscape and submit it electronically as a digital
image, titled LandscapeTTN. If you do not have a scanner, check your local campus or public library, or
commercial places like Staples or Kinkos. – OR – you can also complete this table all electronically in
Word, without printing/scanning, if you insert your drawings/images of the moon’s surface in it here.)
Part 3B: TTN Observing Log
Date Time Detailed
Drawing of
the Moon
Direction of the moon
(as precise as possible);
Altitude of the moon
(in degrees above the horizon)
Weather conditions (cllouds,, ttemperatture,, ettc..)
features of the moon visible (craters, etc);
other objects nearby (stars, planets, etc)
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
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Part 3C: TTN Questions
Reflect on the following questions based on your observations of the moon Through the Night
(TTN). Type your answers in blue font between the questions. To receive full grade for the
questions section, you should address all questions asked below.
Changes in Motion of the Moon
TTN -1 Through the course of one night, you should have taken a minimum of 4 separate observations of
the Moon, spanning a minimum of 3 hours (from start to finish), separated by 1 hour apart. Draw the
path of the moon over that time with a dashed line through your sequence of observations. Describe
the path you have drawn. Somewhere in your description should be terms such as “rising from”,
“moving across”, or “setting towards”, and reference to compass directions as well as left and right.
Imagine yourself outside, tracing the motion of the moon with your arm. How would you describe
that motion? There is no need to explain what you saw, just describe the motion clearly.
Answer:
All of the following questions should be answered based on your own observations, and NOT
answers found in the textbook or the internet.
TTN-2 How much did the moon move? Words like “a little bit”, “a lot” or “an impressive amount” are
not useful in science.
Answer:
TTN-3 Explain why you think the Moon changed its position in the sky as it did, through the course of
one night’s observations?
Answer:
Changes in Shape of the Moon
All of the following questions should be answered based on your own observations, and NOT
answers found in the textbook or the internet.
TTN-4 Did the shape or orientation of the illuminated part of the Moon change over the time of an
observation sequence? If it did change, use specific and descriptive words to describe the change.
Answer:
TTN-5 Were there any other changes in the appearance of the moon over a given observation sequence?
Were those changes due to the movement of the moon or to other phenomena?
Answer:
TTN-6 Explain why you think the apparent shape or orientation of the Moon changed or did not change
through the course of one night?
Answer:
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Part 4A: NTN Journal – Landscape
A Record of the Moon’s Location and Appearance over several nights/mornings/afternoons.
Create your photographic landscape (see Part 2C for instructions), and then add your moon
observations/drawings on it. Put all the observations of the Moon from the same sequence on the
same landscape, so that the movement of the moon can be clearly seen.
(Note that once completed, you will need to scan this landscape and submit it electronically as a digital
image, titled LandscapeNTN. If you do not have a scanner, check your local campus or public library,
or commercial places like Staples or Kinkos. – OR – you can also complete this table all electronically
in Word, without printing/scanning, if you insert your drawings/images of the moon’s surface in it here.)
Part 4B: NTN Observing Log
Date Time Detailed
Drawing of
the Moon
Direction of the moon
(as precise as possible);
Altitude of the moon
(in degrees above the horizon)
Weather conditions (cllouds,, ttemperatture,, ettc..)
features of the moon visible (craters, etc);
other objects nearby (stars, planets, etc)
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
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Part 4C: NTN QUESTIONS
Reflect on the following questions based on your observations of the moon Night to Night (NTN).
Type your answers in blue font between the questions. To receive full grade for the questions
section, you should address all questions asked below.
Changes in Motion of the Moon
NTN-1 You likely have observations that span several days broken up by cloudy nights or other
interruptions. Ideally several observations were made at the same time each night, but this may
not have happened. Your goal is to identify one or more sequences of linked observations on your
drawing.
Linked observations can be achieved in at least 2 ways:
a) by locating the moon on your drawing from exactly the same place at the same time (within
5-10 minutes) over a series of nights (usually 2 or 3 observations over 4 or 5 days).
b) by noting the position of the moon relative to a well defined object in the sky. This could be
an identified constellation or a bright planet.
By either method, identify one or more linked sequences on your drawing (or drawings) with a
dashed line. If there is more than one sequence, number them for easy reference.
All of the following questions should be answered based on your own observations, and NOT
answers found in the textbook or the internet.
NTN-2 From one or more of your linked sequences, describe the path the moon followed NTN.
(Hints to assist in your description: Was the path essentially an arc up from or towards the eastern
or western horizon, or was it essentially a flat path through the sky?)
Answer:
From previous discussions in our course we have seen that the Moon follows close to the ecliptic
path through the sky. From Toronto, (or any mid northern latitude), the ecliptic path is a broad
arch including an eastern section, a section through the southern sky and a western section.
Which part of that path did you see the moon in each of your linked sequences?
Answer:
Which way did the moon move along the ecliptic path from night to night (NTN)? To the right –
towards the west, or to the left – towards the east?
Answer:
On average, how much did the moon move from NTN? How did you get this value?
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Answer:
All of the following questions should be answered based on your own observations, and NOT
answers found in the textbook or the internet.
NTN-3 From night to night movements you observed, can you conclude if the moon is orbiting clockwise
or counter-clockwise around the earth through the month?
(Hints: For a linked sequence of observations, was the Moon exactly in the same place in the sky
at the same time every night? Yes or No?)
Answer:
If directly observed, or projected from your observations, did the moon rise or set at the same
time each night? Yes or No? if no, how much earlier or later did it rise or set?
Answer:
NTN-4 Explain why you think the Moon changed its position in the sky from NTN as it did?
Answer:
Changes in Shape of the Moon
All of the following questions should be answered based on your own observations, and NOT
answers found in the textbook or the internet.
NTN-5 How did the shape of the illuminated part of the Moon change over the period of observation?
Use specific and descriptive words. Note similarities and differences in your description if
different linked sequences were at different phases of the moon’s cycle
Answer:
All of the following questions should be answered based on your own observations, and NOT
answers found in the textbook or the internet.
NTN-6 Were there any other changes in the appearance of the moon over the observation period. Were
those changes due to the movement of the moon or to other phenomena?
Answer:
NTN-7 Explain why you think the Moon changed its apparent shape as it did?
Answer:
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Part 5: Conclusions
Comparing your hunches with current understanding
Reflect on the following questions based on your observations of the moon Night to Night (NTN).
Type your answers in blue font between the questions. To receive full grade for the questions
section, you should address all questions asked below.
How did the actual movement and change in apparent shape of the Moon change compared to your hunch
answers?
Answer:
How do your current explanations of why the moon changed its location and why it changed its apparent
shape compare with explanations you made in your hunch answers?
Answer:
Has the thinking that went into your hunches been essentially changed or essentially confirmed by your
observations and reflection over the last month? (Use specific and descriptive words to illustrate features of
this changed or confirmed thinking.)
Answer:
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*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_
Supplemental materials (i.e. not required for submission) that may support you in completion of the
project or extend the project if you have future interest.
Further questions that may help in describing your observations:
1 Was the Moon setting earlier, later, or at the same time from one night to the next?
2 Was the difference between the time of sunset and moonset getting longer, shorter, or staying
the same from one night to the next?
3 Was the Right Ascension angle between the direction of the Sun and the Moon increasing,
decreasing, or staying the same during your observation period TTN or NTN?
4 From you observations, estimate the time it would take for the Moon to return to the same
place in the sky it was on the first night you started keeping a journal.
Test Yourself. Do your observations and written answers address the following questions?
1. Is the Moon in the same place in the sky at the same time every night?
2. How does the position of the Moon in the sky change from one night to the next?
3. How does the appearance of the Moon change from one night to the next?
4. Is the Moon visible in the morning or afternoon some days? Are there some days in the
month when the moon is not visible?
Extensions: further activities that might continue from this exercise.
1. Keep observing the sky from the same location through several moon cycles. What things are
the same about each cycle? What things are changing from cycle to cycle? On average, how
many days does it take the Moon to undergo a complete cycle?
2. Start a Moon journal for the morning sky.

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