Seeing the Moon During the Day

Description:  Many students (and teachers) believe that you can only see the moon during the nighttime. You can actually see the moon during the day almost every day. You just need to know where and when to look. This phenomenon can be used to start building an accurate conceptual model of where the Earth is in space. Students should start recording patters of where and when the moon can be seen and then accounting for this evidence using a model.

Web Resource:  Why Do We See the Moon in Daylight - Space.com


Star Trails

Description:  A star trail is a long exposure photograph that shows the movement of stars in the night sky. The stars appear to move in the sky but it is actually the rotation of the Earth that causes the perceived movement. This phenomenon could be used to build a better conceptual model of the Earth place in the solar system, galaxy, or Universe.

Web Resource:  Star trails - Wikipedia

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Felix Baumgartner Space Jump World Record

Description:  In 2012 Felix Baumgartner set the World Record for skydiving from a height of 24 miles. The freefall lasted over four minutes and Felix broke the speed of sound. This phenomenon can be used to introduce the gravitational force being directed down in elementary school. This definition can be expanded upon through middle school and high school to include gravitational fields and application of Newton's Second Law of Motion.

Web Resource:  Red Bull Stratos - Wikipedia


Pipehenge: Poor Man’s Stonehenge

Description:  Pipehenge is a daytime astronomy device that can be used to determine patterns in the movement of our Sun and moon.  Pipehenge can be built using plastic pipes so that it is moveable or a permanent "climbable" structure.  According to the makers of this device, students can study astronomy during the day and internalize a model that they can use while observing the night sky.  Secondary students could build a device that could be used with elementary students in the same school district.

Web Resource:  Pipehenge


How Do Sundials Work?

Description:  The simplest sundial consists of two parts: a flat plate and a gnomon (or stick) that casts a shadow on the plate. When the sundial is properly aligned it will tell the local solar time. This may have to be adjusted to find national clock time due to longitude, season, and daylight savings time. Students can build their own sundial by tracing the shadow on paper (or in the dirt) at different times of the day.

Web Resources:  Sundials - Wikipedia, How Do Sundials Work? - Yale Scientific


Total Solar Eclipse

Description:  The total solar eclipse of 2017 is an excellent phenomenon to use in an astronomy unit because many of the students will have heard of, or even experienced, the most recent eclipse. During a total eclipse the shadow of the moon completely blocks out the light from the sun. This phenomenon can be used to establish an accurate model of the Sun-Moon-Earth system.

Web Resource: NASA - Eclipse: Who? What? Where? When? and How?