Natural Science Unit 28 Laboratory Activity: More of Galileo's Observations
Goal: Repeat some of Galileo's observations of the surface of the Moon and sunspots.
Materials and Equipment:
- Binoculars or a 4" telescope with magnification of at least 8X
- Sky and Telescope, planetarium program, or website for planning observation
- Sketch paper
Observing the Moon
- Using Sky and Telescope, or another source, identifie with the Moon will be near first quarter (half the lunar surface will be in shadow, half in sunlight, and the shadows from craters will be maximized across the greatest surface.
- Carefully observe the limb of the moon (the edge against the background sky), and the terminator (edge of the sun's light). Can you identify areas where craters extend above the normal surface, to "prove" that mountains exist on the moon?
- This is trickier.
NEVER OBSERVE THE SUN DIRECTLY THROUGH ANY TELESCOPE OR BINOCULARS *UNLESS* YOU HAVE A PROPERLY RATED SOLAR FILTER FOR THE EYEPIECE.
- Using your binoculars or telescope, let the sun shine directly down the tube and out the eyepiece. Position the telescope or binoculars so that the light coming out the eyepiece will fall on a piece of paper.
- Draw the edge of the sun and locate sunspots; map any solar "imperfections".
- Repeat your observations over several days. Can you identify the same sunspot cluster over time? How does it change position on the surface of the sun?
- Describe how you determined which object to observe. How does the position of the object in the sky, the time of day it appears, and weather conditions affect your observing?
- Describe your telescope or binoculars, and how you set them up to do your observations. What difficulties or challenges did you have to overcome? How did these affect your ability to make accurate observations?
- Describe the object as you observed it. How do you observations support Copernicus' claim that the earth moves around the sun, or Galileo's claims that other planets move around the sun, and are made of "imperfect" substances?
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