A Starry Night Experience:How high above the northern horizon is the North Star? How high would it be if you were in Miami? How can this be used to find your position on Earth?

Viewing Your Sky – Hour-by-hour

Fall 2017

A Starry Night Experience

  1. This lab will involve in class work and night observing.

Class work

  1. Working with your lab partner(s), go to blackboard and complete the pre-lab assessment for Lab #1. a) First complete the assessment using your account.
  2. b) Once you are finished, log out, let your lab partner log in, and repeat the assessment so that each person has completed it.
  3. Once each of you has completed the assessment, get two index cards for each student from your instructor.
  4. On each of the two index cards write your name, your ID number, your instructor’s name, and your section number.
  5. Bring both index cards to night observing. Once you have completed the lab, the instructor will keep one and will sign one for you to keep as proof that you have completed the night observing session.
  6. Next go to the computer in the lab.
  7. On the desktop double click on Starry Night
  8. For Registration click on “later”
  9. For registration updates click on “Cancel File Update”

10.Check to see that the location is set to Boston or Lowell MA

  1. Under ‘Time and Date’ (top left), click on Now. Under ‘Time Flow Rate’ (top center) click on the black square video control (stop time). Go to the time area and set it to 8:00 pm

12.Under the Labels menu, click on Planets-Moons and Stars.

13.Change the Zoom (top right) back and forth until you understand how the display works.

  1. Set the Zoom set to approximately at 100º x 70º. 15. Find the following objects:
  2. a) The planet Saturn
  3. b) The constellation Cassiopeia
  4. c) The constellation Cygnus
  5. d) The constellation Sagittarius
  6. e) The constellation Pegasus
  7. f) The constellation Ursa Major
  8. g) The star Vega
  9. h) The star Altair
  10. i) The star Arcturus
  11. j) The North Star (Polaris)
  12. k) The celestial equator
  13. l) The ecliptic plane
  14. Sketch their location. These are the objects you will need to identify during night lab so be sure you understand where to find each in the sky.

17.Change the time from 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm, 10:00 pm, and so on.

18.Make a copy of your sketch and indicate how each of the objects moves over the course of the night. Indicate both the direction and the speed.

19.Now keep the time set at 8:00 pm and change the date one day at a time to see how the sky will change over the next month.

20.Make a copy of your original sketch and indicate how each of the objects moves over the course of the month. Indicate both the direction and the speed. Note any new planets that appear and or objects that disappear.

21.Next keep the time at 8:00 pm and the day set at today’s date. Move your location to Miami Florida. 22.Make a copy of your original sketch and indicate how the position of the objects changes. Note any new planets and other objects that appear or disappear.

Night observing

23.Attend a night lab session.

24.Night observing sessions will be the next four Monday through Thursday evenings after your scheduled lab time, weather permitting.

  1. a) Your lab instructor will give you instructions about where to go for night lab.
  2. b) You must arrive between 8:00 and 8:30 pm.
  3. c) It is important that you attend as soon as possible – weather in New England is unpredictable and there may not be more than one clear night.
  4. d) We will attempt to be open as often as possible but it is your responsibility to attend on one of the clear nights. Do not wait until the last minute because the weather may be cloudy.
  5. e) You will be notified by mail at about 5:00 if the weather is not clear enough to observe.
  6. f) Remember that it will be cold after dark. So be sure to dress appropriately.

25.At a night lab session:

  1. a) There will be two instructors at night lab: a testing instructor and a tutor.
  2. b) Work with the tutor and your classmates to identify the objects listed in step 14.
  3. c) Once you can locate each of the objects listed in step 14, go to the testing instructor. Give the instructor your two index cards. Point each object out to the instructor. If you can do so correctly he or she will sign one card and return it to you and will keep the other. Keep your signed card, this is proof that you have completed the lab.
  4. d) If you cannot identify all of the objects work with the tutor instructor and your classmates until you can and then see the testing instructor again.

Preparing your lab report

26.After attending night lab prepare a lab report using the four sketches you made in class and the answers to the five questions below.

  1. a) You may hand write and scan it or you may use a word processor (e.g. Office or Powerpoint).
  2. b) Your report must be a single file in PDF format.
  3. c) You should do this lab with a partner and talk with them about the write up but this write up must be your own work in your own words.
  4. d) You must each submit your own report.
  5. e) The lab report should use complete sentences to describe what you did, and what you saw. Describe what you actually saw, not what you think you should have seen.
  6. f) Your instructor will give you additional instructions for the correct format and form of your report.
  7. g) You should answer the questions below using complete sentences.
  8. h) When you have completed your lab report upload it to Blackboard using the link in the Lab 1 folder. 27.Do the post lab quiz on Blackboard. You may, but don’t have to, work with your lab partner on the quiz. You should have a copy of your lab report to consult during the post lab quiz.

28.You must upload your lab report and complete your post lab quiz within 14 days of your assigned lab time.


  1. List all of the planets found along with the constellation each was found in and the date you found it. 2. Which of the constellations we observed are on the Zodiac?
  2. Do all stars and planets move east to west over the course of the night? What about a star between the North star and the northern horizon?
  3. Consider the constellation Sagittarius. If we were to repeat this lab in a month where would Sagittarius be found compared to where it was found during your night observing?
  4. How high above the northern horizon is the North Star? How high would it be if you were in Miami? How can this be used to find your position on Earth?

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