The Rotating Sky – Pre-Lab I. Background Information This week’s lab is based on material developed by the University of Nebraska Astronomy Education Project. The material we need can be found at http://astro. unl. edu/naap/motion2/motion2. html Work through the explanatory material and play with the simulators on The Observer, Two Systems – Celestial- Horizon, the Paths of Stars, and Bands in the Sky. All of the concepts that are covered in these pages are used in the Rotating Sky Explorer and will be explored more fully there. II.
Introduction to the Rotating Sky Simulator (Instructions on how to use) * Open the Rotating Sky Explorer The Rotating Sky Explorer consists of a flat map of the Earth, Celestial Sphere, and a Horizon Diagram that are linked together. The explanations below will help you fully explore the capabilities of the simulator. Have fun while you explore. * You may click and drag either the celestial sphere or the horizon diagram to change your perspective. * A flat map of the earth is found in the lower left which allows one to control the location of the observer on the Earth.
You may either drag the map cursor to specify a location, type in values for the latitude and longitude directly, or use the arrow keys to make adjustments in 5 increments. You should practice dragging the observer to a few locations (North Pole, intersection of the Prime Meridian and the Tropic of Capricorn, etc. ). * Note how the Earth Map, Celestial Sphere, and Horizon Diagram are linked together. Grab the map cursor and slowly drag it back and forth vertically changing the observer’s latitude.
Note how the observer’s location is reflected on the Earth at the center of the Celestial Sphere (this may occur on the back side of the earth out of view). * Continue changing the observer’s latitude and note how this is reflected on the horizon diagram. When the observer is in the northern hemisphere the NCP is seen above the north point on the horizon at an altitude equal to the observer’s latitude. When the observer is in the southern hemisphere the SCP is seen above the south point at an altitude equal to the observer’s latitude. The Celestial Sphere and Horizon Diagram are also linked in that any stars are added to the simulation are shown on both. There are many features related to stars. * A star will be randomly created by clicking the add star randomly button. * A star may be created at a specific location on either sphere by shift-clicking at that location. (Hold down the shift key on the keyboard while clicking at that spot. ) * You may move a star to any location by clicking on it and dragging it. Note that it moves on both spheres as you do this. Notice that the coordinates of the star on the Celestial Sphere don’t change as the coordinates of the star (its Azimuth and altitude) change on the horizon diagram * Note that the celestial equatorial and horizon coordinates are provided for the “active” star. Only one star (or none) may be active at a given time. Simply click on a star to make it the active star. Click on any other location to make no star active. * If you wish to delete a star, you should delete-click on it. (Hold down the delete key on the keyboard while clicking on the star. ) *
You may remove all stars by clicking the remove all stars button. Note that stars are the vehicle by which you make coordinate measurements. If you want to make a measurement in either diagram – you place the active star at that location. * There are several modes of animation as well as a slider to control speed. * You may turn on animate continuously or for preset time intervals: 1 hour, 3 hours, 6 hours, and 12 hours. * If you click-drag a sphere to change its perspective while the simulator is animating, the animation will cease. Once you release the mouse button the present animation mode will continue. * This simulator has the power to create star trails on the horizon diagram. A series of check boxes set the star trails option. No star trails is self-explanatory. Short star trails creates a trail behind a star illustrating its position for the past 3 hours. Long trails will trace out a parallel of declination in 1 sidereal day. * Stars are created without trails regardless of the trail option checked. If either short or long trails is checked, the trail will be drawn once the simulator is animated. * Existing star trails will be redrawn in response to changes – the star being dragged on either sphere or changing the observer’s location. What’s not in this simulation? – the revolution of the Earth around the sun. This simulator animates in sidereal time. One sidereal day (one 360° rotation of the earth) is 23 hours and 56 minutes long. You should think of this simulator as showing the Earth isolated in space as opposed to revolving around the sun. III. Pre-lab questions Start the simulation Rotating Sky Explorer (swf). The three views, 1- your location on an earth map, 2- the Celestial Sphere Model and 3- the Horizon picture are all related. Notice how changing your location affects the other two models.
In particular your location on the map determines what part of the celestial sphere you can see in the horizon diagram. Familiarizing yourself with the simulator and doing the pre-lab will make the actual lab proceed more quickly. 1- Syracuse is at latitude 43. At this latitude where does an observer in the horizon system see the North Celestial Pole (NCP)(altitude and azimuth)? (You can illustrate this by shift-clicking to create a star and dragging to the NCP. ) 2- How will the location of the pole change as the observer moves to more southerly latitudes?
Is there a relation between the latitude and the position of the NCP? 3- Go back to Syracuse. Create a star on the North point of the horizon. Where will the star be in 6 hours due to the rotation of the Earth? ( Click long star trails and select 6 hours on the animate pull down menu and then click start animation. Where will it be in another 6 hours. Will this star ever dip below the horizon? What is this type of star called. Change the coordinates of the star so that it will dip below the horizon. Note the old and new coordinates on the Celestial Sphere model. This pre-lab is worth 3 of the 10 points on the lab.