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Natural Science - Year I

Unit 4: Observing the Moon

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Lab Assignment for Unit 4

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Natural Science Unit 4 Laboratory Activity:
Naked Eye Astronomy

Goal: Observing the Moon

Materials and Equipment:

Naked eye: we are looking for location of the moon in the sky, not features on the moon. Paper and pencil.


During a two week period, observe the location and time of the moon's rising on your eastern horizon for as many nights as you can. Estimate the altitude and azimuth of the moon at the time it rises, and use the background stars to estimate its right ascension and declination.

Note: the moon was new on September 28, when it rises and sets with the sun, full on October 13, when it rises around sunset, and new again October 28. Because it rises later each night, if you wait to start observing until mid-October, you will be getting up very late (or very early!) to make your observations. For 2019, the best observing times will be between October 5 and October 20.

Data Analysis:

Create a table for your observations. Determine how much later the moon rises each night according to the clock, and then determine the difference in Right Ascension. Are these values the same? Why or Why not?

Use your data to determine the location and time of the rising of the moon for several nights into the future, then check at least one of your predictions. How accurate was it?


Follow your teacher's instructions for how and where to send your lab reports. Your written report should include