# Observing the Night Sky: Locating Objects

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1 Observing the Night Sky: Locating Objects As I left the house this morning, there was a bright bluish light above and to the left of my neighbors house (approximately East) and a big very bright object to my right over the hills (approximately South). I wonder what those objects are? We can use a variety of reference materials to determine what those objects were if we know where they were when we saw them (Did I see you?). In order to determine where we will need to define a coordinate system(s)

2 Locating Objects A coordinate system is defined so that we may use a set of numbers to locate an object The Coordinate System is defined by specifying an origin and the nature (direction) of the coordinates.

3 Locating Objects To locate an object on a flat (two-dimensional) surface (classroom arrangement, surface of the earth) two coordinates are necessary. To locate an object in space (threedimensions) three coordinates are necessary.

4 Locating Objects on Earth Two angular coordinates, Latitude and Longitude, are used to locate objects on the surface of the Earth The Earth rotates about an imaginary axis the passes through the North and South geographic poles. The Equator is an imaginary circle on the surface of the Earth located midway between the North and South poles. It is a Great Circle in that the plane containing it divides the Earth into two equal halves, the Northern and Southern hemispheres.

5 Latitude The Equator is the origin (or zero point) for the Latitude coordinate. Latitude: is the angle between the equator and any geographical location

6 Longitude Latitude: is the angle around the equator to the point nearest the object to be located. Where do we begin? The longitude line passing through Greenwich, England is the origin (zero point) of the longitude coordinate and is called the Prime Meridian. (direction, East or West is usually specified)

7 Angle Units Latitude and Longitude are angular coordinates and are measured in: Degrees Minute of Arc is 1/60 th of a degree Second of Arc is 1/60 th a minute of arc

8 Longitude and Latitude

9 ONEONTA Longitude and Latitude W

10 Locating Objects: Horizon System We can identify objects in the local sky using a coordinate system that is analogous to the latitude-longitude system. In our local sky, the stars appear as lights on a dome (half of the Celestial Sphere). If we imagine that the do exist on a imaginary dome then two angular coordinates are needed to specify the position of any object Zenith is the point directly over head in the celestial sphere The Celestial Horizon is a circle consisting of all points 90 degrees from zenith. Altitude and Azimuth are the coordinates used to locate objects in the local sky.

11 Locating Objects: Horizon System Altitude is the angular distance above the celestial horizon (analogous to latitude) Azimuth is the angular distance measured eastward from north along the celestial horizon to a point closest to the object (analogous to longitude)

12 Horizon Coordinate System

13 Local Sky: Altitude Azimuth Plot City: Date: 24/1/2008 Time: 03:00:00 GMT Latitude: 'N Longitude: 'W

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15 Night Sky: Motion of Objects Through history, patterns in the motion of objects in the sky have been observed and recorded most notably: The diurnal motion of the sun and stars The annual motion of the sun and stars. (This could be observed by noting how the location of an object at set time changes from night to night) Features (phases, retrograde motion) of planetary motion.

16 Circumpolar Stars Day long exposure shows the paths traveled by the stars during the day (diurnal motion)

17 Celestial Sphere The stars may be thought of as residing on a large spherical dome known as the celestial sphere.

18 Celestial Sphere The stars may be thought of as residing on a large spherical dome known as the celestial sphere. The line coinciding with the Earth s rotational axis intersects the celestial sphere at the north and south celestial poles.

19 Celestial Sphere The stars may be thought of as residing on a large spherical dome known as the celestial sphere. The line coinciding with the Earth s rotational axis intersects the celestial sphere at the north and south celestial poles. An infinite plane containing the equator of the Earth intersects the celestial sphere in great circle known as the celestial equator.

20 Celestial Sphere The stars may be thought of as residing on a large spherical dome known as the celestial sphere. The line coinciding with the Earth s rotational axis intersects the celestial sphere at the north and south celestial poles. An infinite plane containing the equator of the Earth intersects the celestial sphere in great circle known as the celestial equator. Counterclockwise rotation of the Earth produces the same effect as clockwise rotation of the celestial sphere

21 As observed from Earth, what is the daily (diurnal) motion of the stars? How does this apparent motion change with latitude?

22 Circumpolar Stars Day long exposure shows the paths traveled by the stars during the day (diurnal motion) The stars appear to move in a circle about the celestial pole (in the northern hemisphere circles are centered approximately on Polaris, The North Star)

23 Circumpolar Stars Day long exposure shows the paths traveled by the stars during the day (diurnal motion) The stars appear to move in a circle about the celestial pole (in the northern hemisphere circles are centered approximately on Polaris, The North Star) The altitude of the North Celestial Pole is Equal to the latitude of the observer.

24 Circumpolar Stars Day long exposure shows the paths traveled by the stars during the day (diurnal motion) The stars appear to move in a circle about the celestial pole (in the northern hemisphere circles are centered approximately on Polaris, The North Star) The altitude of the North Celestial Pole is Equal to the latitude of the observer. Stars that never go below the horizon are known as Circumpolar Stars

25 Circumpolar Stars As one moves towards the equator, the altitude of the north (or south) celestial pole decreases. The number of circumpolar stars decreases (more stars are rising and setting). The stellar paths are more like straight lines.

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28 How does the Sun appear to move through out the year? How is this apparent motion of the Sun (caused by the 23.5 tilt of the earth s rotational axis) related to the seasons?

29 Earth Rotational Axis Tilt in Annual Revolution About the Sun

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34 Image of the Moon from the Galileo Space Craft

35 Moon: Overview Due to its size (diameter 3476 km, Mercury s diameter is 4880 km) and composition, the moon is sometimes considered as a terrestrial planet along with Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. In addition to being the only body visited by humans, it is also the only object from which physical sample have been brought back to Earth (Radioactive dating found the youngest rocks formed 3.1 billion years ago and the oldest formed 4.4 billion years ago). In addition to centuries of Earth bound observations, several space based missions have made observations of the Moon: Apollo (Dates), Clementine, Lunar Prospector

36 Moon: Revolution The Moon revolves around the Earth in 27.3 days (Sidereal Period, revolution in the same sense as Earth about the Sun). Since the Earth moves in its orbit about the Sun (~27 during this time) it takes about 2 more days for the moon to return to the same position relative to the Earth and Sun. Thus the Synodic Period is 29.5 days.

37 Moon: Revolution The revolution of the moon about the Earth produces the phases of the moon which complete one cycle during the synodic period.

38 Moon: Revolution

39 Moon: Rotation The moon rotates with a period of 27.3 days, which is the same as the sidereal period. When the period of rotation and revolution of an object are the same, it is in synchronous rotation. In synchronous rotation, the same side of the Moon (called the near side) always faces Earth.

40 Retrograde Motion Most of the time, planets appear to move eastward against the background of stars. (Prograde Motion) Retrograde Motion occurs when for a brief period of time a planet (Mars most dramatic example) appears to move backwards (westward) against the background of stars when observed from earth. The planet appears brightest during retrograde motion.

42 Special Earth-Sun-Planet Configurations Inferior Conjunction: Occurs when the planet and Sun are seen in the same direction from Earth and the planet is closest to Earth (Mercury and Venus). Superior Conjunction: Occurs when the planet and sun are seen in the same direction from Earth and the Sun is closest to Earth. Opposition: Occurs when the direction the planet and the Sun are seen from Earth is exactly on opposite.

43 Special Earth-Sun-Planet Configurations

44 Retrograde Motion Synodic Period: The time required for a planet to return to a particular configuration with the Sun and Earth. For example the time between oppositions (or conjunctions, or retrograde motion). Mars (and the other outer planets) is brightest when it is closest at opposition. Therefore retrograde motion of the outer planets occurs at opposition. Retrograde motion of Mercury and Venus takes place near conjunction.

45 Newton and Gravity In Newton s 2 nd Law of Motion we understand that a Force (push or pull) is required to change the velocity (motion, either speed or direction) of the object. [The change in the velocity of an object is also known as acceleration]. wtmtn.html

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