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TOPS 2000 - Session 36 Description

Celestial Sphere and Astrolabe - June 18, 2000

Schedule - Week 1

Schedule - Week 2

Schedule - Week 3

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The celestial sphere is a 2-dimensional representation of the night sky. It is a conceptual means of understanding the motions of the objects in the sky, and the diurnal (daily) and annual motion of the earth as it is reflected in the motions of the celestial objects. A basic understanding of these concepts is important for being able to plan observing, understand the basics of observing, and especially for the more advanced labs we are offering. While most people are not very comfortable with the celestial sphere the first time they encounter it, we have several hands on activities which are designed to gradually build up a level of understanding. Familiarity with the celestial sphere is also crucial to understanding the underlying principals of archaeoastronomy and celestial navigation - i.e. the astronomical heritage we have gained from past cultures.
In this session, Karen Meech will begin with a descriptive overview and introduction to the concepts of coordinate systems seasons and time, and how this affects the view of the night sky. Following this Tim Slater will lead the teachers through a simple activity with a planisphere. Finally, we will construct an astrolabe an ancient device which was used as an astronomical calculator. Depending on the time available in this session we may just focus on the astrolabe construction, and then continue with hands-on exercises in Session 39. For the interested reader, all of the instructions and templates needed for the astrolabe activity may be found on our TOPS Resources website.

Location - HPA New Lecture Hall

Participation Matrix

Subject Astr Phys Math Chem Env Bio
Level Novice Intermediate Advanced
Target Group Teachers Students  
Prerequisites None

This page has been visited times since March 2000.
Last Updated on June 3, 2000
Karen Meech, Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii