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Day 122: Lunar Eclipse Photos; Review March 5, 2007

Posted by Admin in Astronomy, Geology, Homework, Science in the News, Test.
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Saturday’s lunar eclipse was clearly visible from here in Kansas, although we only saw the second half of the event. But that was enough to be clear evidence of the event. On what should have been a full moon, half of it was shrouded by the shadow of the Earth. My photos taken from here in town are below – the same view many in Tonganoxie observed:


Click on the images above to visit my personal website (http://www.notesinthemargin.com) with more photos and larger images. Notice that that the portion of the moon that is shaded is still somewhat visible, only much dimmer and slightly orange/red in color.

Approximately an hour after the image above was taken, the moon had returned to it’s full glory:


Following the discussion of the eclipse, students worked in pairs to complete the Geology Test Study Guide. It can be downloaded and printed from home. After school, all 15 short answer questions on the back of the study guide were answered in the test study session. The test tomorrow is worth 50 points and is the last major assignment of the quarter – the last chance to boost your grade for 3rd quarter.


Day 121: Quiz and Lunar Eclipse March 2, 2007

Posted by Admin in Astronomy, Homework, Science in the News.
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lunareclipse.jpgBefore completing an electronic vote quiz on Rock Types today (grades will be entered over the weekend), we discussed the upcoming lunar eclipse that is slated for tomorrow (Saturday) evening. While the morning will likely be cloudy, if we are lucky, the clouds will clear by the late afternoon or early evening and afford us a great view of this rare event. The last lunar eclipse in this area was November of 2004. While we will not be able to observe “totality” from our area, we will still very clearly be within the region capable of viewing this great event. As the moon passes through the shadow cast by the Earth, the moon will slowly shift from its normal bright white glow to a light orange and finally to a crimson red shade (as shown in the photo from 2004 above). As the moon slips back out from beneath the Earth’s shadow, it will return to white.

Read much more on this upcoming eclipse via Nasa:

In the USA, the eclipse will already be underway when the moon rises on Saturday evening. Observing tip: Find a place with a clear view of the eastern horizon and station yourself there at sunset. As the sun goes down behind you, a red moon will rise before your eyes.

Rising moons are often reddened by clouds or pollution, but this moon will be the deep, extraordinary red only seen during a lunar eclipse. As you watch it ascend into the night, imagine what it would be like to stand by Shackleton Crater watching from the opposite direction.

If we are fortunate enough to experience clear skies, I will post some photographs of tomorrow’s eclipse on this page.  Email me your photos and I’d love to post them to the page and show them in class as well!  Read more on lunar eclipses via these links:

Day 104: The Moon February 6, 2007

Posted by Admin in Astronomy, Geology.
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Today we spent more time discussing the influence that our moon exerts over life on Earth and no homework was assigned.  Yesterday’s video covered many ways in which life on Earth is influenced by the moon – from wildlife mating rituals to the egg-laying habits of turtles and even the human female reproductive cycle.  Beyond cycles in nature, the moon influences life in other ways, such as maintaining a pull on the Earth, healping to steady the Earth’s rotational axis.  Without such a steadying force, the Earth would wobble slightly on its axis, causing changes in climate and sensible weather.

The animated graphic above shows all 28 days of the lunar phases.  The apparant wobble of the moon is not a mistake – it is in fact a very real phenomenon in which the Earth-Moon distance changes slightly over time.  But in the big picture, the moon is slowly drifting away from us at a rate of about 1.5 inches per year!  That means that a few million years from now, we may lose our moon all together.  The oceans will no longer have tides and life on Earth as we know it will dramatically change!

Tomororw we’ll shift gears into Geology by discussing the formation and layers of the Earth.

Day 103: If We Had No Moon February 5, 2007

Posted by Admin in Astronomy.
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What would life on Earth be like if we had no moon? Actually, we wouldn’t even know what it’d be like, since life would likely not exist in any form we’re familiar with! After completing the astronomy unit with a test on Friday, today’s classes viewed the Discovery Channel DVD “If We Had No Moon“.

Along with a great critical analysis of the Moon’s influence on life on Earth, the DVD also contained a great computer animation of the current theory on the formation of the moon. You can watch that portion of the video online by clicking “Watch a Video Clip!” on this page.

Students completed the “If We Had No Moon” worksheet that accompanied the video during class today and all worksheets were due at the end of the class period. We’ll discuss this video more in class tomorrow as we shift gears into the geology unit.


For some more cool moon stuff, check out this new NASA article about 181 Things To Do On the Moon:

February 2, 2007: If you woke up tomorrow morning and found yourself on the moon, what would you do? NASA has just released a list of 181 good ideas.

Ever since the end of the Apollo program, “folks around the world have been thinking about returning to the moon, and what they would like to do there,” says Jeff Volosin, strategy development lead for NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate. Now, NASA is going back; the agency plans to send astronauts to the Moon no later than 2020. “So we consulted more than 1,000 people from businesses, academia and 13 international space agencies to come up with a master list of 181 potential lunar objectives.”

Day 102: Astronomy TEST February 2, 2007

Posted by Admin in Astronomy, Test.
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Today we took the Astronomy Test which covered everything from the History of Astronomy through the astronomy terminology, the scale of the universe, the Powers of 10 video clip, the stellar life cycle, black holes, comets, and the sun. Check out previous days on the calendar over on the right to get more information on all of those topics!

Homework: Complete your sun project by Monday! We’ll then start the next unit: Geology.


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Day 101: Test Prep February 1, 2007

Posted by Admin in Astronomy, Test.
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Today we studied for tomorrow’s Astronomy Test using the study guide.  We also had the chance to watch a few of the student-made Stellar Life Cycle videos which turned out great!

Don’t forget your Sun Projects are due on Monday at the start of class!  On Monday we’ll begin the geology unit.

Day 100: Why Does the Sun Shine? January 31, 2007

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The sun is a mass of incandescent gas, a giagantic nuclear furnace where hydrogen is built into helium at a temperature of millions of degrees…

Today we continued constructing our models of the sun and also had a chance to listen to the song “Why Does the Sun Shine?” by They Might Be Giants (check it out on Amazon or iTunes).  The scoring page (along with the lyrics to the song) have been posted online.  The sun projects are due on Monday at the start of class.

Tomorrow we’ll organize all of the resources to be used to study for Friday’s astronomy test.  Check out the study guide for more information.

Day 99: Sun Model Project January 30, 2007

Posted by Admin in Astronomy, Homework.
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Today we began work on constructing models of the sun. This independent project (every student will complete their own model) can take on many forms: a labeled drawing on regular white paper, a layered diagram constructed out of construction paper, a three-dimensional model made from styrofoam or cardboard, a folding flip-book of layers, etc…

So while the format is up to you, the requirements for the project are the same regardless of form: You must include all 6 layers of the sun (In order from the center: core, radiative zone, convective zone, photosphere, chromosphere, and corona) and the three surface features: solar flare, sunspot, and prominence. I have uploaded a copy of the full directions and scorecard. We will work on these projects in class again tomorrow and these projects are due on Monday, 02/05/07 for 15 points.

Thursday we will review for the test. The test has been moved from Thursday to Friday. With that, the after school review session has also been moved – from Wednesday to Thursday (3:05pm – 4:00pm). Study guides are available in class or available here for download.

Day 98: Structure of the Sun January 29, 2007

Posted by Admin in Astronomy.
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sun.jpgThe sun and its structure and processes were the subject of today’s notes and discussion. After discussing a diagram of the layers and surface features of the sun, we discussed why the sun shines: nuclear fusion. Tomorrow we will begin construction of the Sun models. These models will take many forms: some will chose to complete a labeled drawing, others will work on construction-paper diagrams, and others still will construct 3D models with styrofoam balls or even cut-apart basketballs! Each model must include the 6 layers of the sun and the 3 surface features: sunspots, solar flares, and prominences. We will continue work on these on Wednesday with test review on Thursday.

Today we also turned in the Stellar Life Cycle projects. The planet flashcards were also graded. The test has been moved from Thursday to Friday; the after school study session has also been pushed back one day: from Wednesday to Thursday (3:05-4:00). The test study guide is available now in class and here.

Image source: http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2005/images/sun-soho011905-1919z.jpg

Day 97: The Outer Planets January 26, 2007

Posted by Admin in Astronomy, Homework.
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Yesteday we made flashcards for the inner planets (see Day 96).  Today we completed the flashcards for the outer planets:  Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune.  Your complete set of 8 flashcards is due at the beginning of class on Monday, 01/29/07.

Don’t forget about your Stellar Life Cycle projects – they are worth 25 points and due on Monday!  No late passes are accepted with these projects.