Thursday, April 02, 2009
100 Hours of Astronomy - Day 1
But why just look? This also being the celebration of Galileo looking through a telescope, why not do some measurements?
Not complex measurements to be sure, but something simple. Like, how fast does the Moon move? All you need for this is a stick (a broom handle will do fine, or a camera tripod if you have one) and a ruler or protractor. Tape the ruler or protractor to one end of the stick and you are ready to go.
Go out and look at the Moon, and find a relatively bright star close by. Tonight this will be epsilon Geminorum, tomorrow kappa Geminourm and Saturday night delta Canceri and the beautiful Beehive cluster (see image above). Using the Ruler/ protractor measure the distance between the Moon and the star. You may need a torch with red cellophane wrapped around the business end to not destroy your eyesight and read the markings. Do this again every half hour for a couple of hours. How far does the Moon move?
We are also using a straight ruler, and the sky is curved (or rather the Moons path is a curve). How does this affect your measurements? Does the Moon move the same distance each night?
Update: If you have rubbish eyesight like mine make a home-made ruler with division in thick black texta. My attempt was foiled by cloud after my very first measurement.
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