Fall 2010  ASTR 110L, Sec. 1  Name: ________________ 


First, copy the `Average diameter' values for 14Sep, 21Sep, 12Oct, and 19Oct from Worksheet #1 to the `Diameter' column for those dates here. Fill in the actual times of your observations for these dates. (See me if you missed one or more of these observations.)
Second, measure the Moon's diameter, d, on the Moon photos in class. Compared to the images we measured directly at the telescopes, these photos have been magnified 10 times; thus 1 cm in the photos is equal to 1 mm at the telescopes. You can therefore measure image diameters in centimeters on the photos, and convert your results directly to the diameters measured in millimeters at the telescopes. For example, on the 10Sep photo the Moon's diameter is 11.6 cm; if you had measured the diameter at the telescope that night you would have found 11.6 mm, so write `11.6 mm' for the Moon's diameter on that date.
Third, once you have measured all the diameters, compute the Moon's distance, R/D, using the formula
Here F = 1200 mm is the focal length of the telescope's main mirror. Because d and F both have units of millimeters, R/D is a pure number — the units of d and F cancel out. In fact, R/D is the Moon's distance in units of the Moon's actual diameter.
Fourth, plot R/D versus date on the chart provided with this handout. Try to plot each distance and date as accurately as you can, taking account of the time each observation was made. Once you have plotted all the data, lightly sketch a smooth curve passing close to the data points.
Once you've completed your plot, answer these questions:
1. Your plot should show the Moon reaching apogee (greatest distance from Earth) three times in total. Mark those times with a small `a'. Note the dashed lines labeled `F' on the plot; these show when the Moon was full (likewise, the lines labeled `N' show when the Moon was new). Does apogee always occur at full Moon?
2. Two images, taken 05Oct and 02Nov, show the Moon very close to perigee (smallest distance from Earth). Are these two perigees the same, or is one a little closer than the other? If so, which one?
3. Suppose the Moon's orbit was an ellipse with the Earth at the center, rather than at one focus. How would your plot look in this case?
Joshua E. Barnes
(barnes at ifa.hawaii.edu)
Updated:
23 November 2010
http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/~barnes/ast110l_f10/moonorbit_ws2.html 