Astronomy Unit: Solar System to Scale

Your first challenge of the astronomy unit will also serve as your second problem set of the semester. Your job is to partner up with someone of your choice and produce the following two drawings.

  1. Draw each planet and the sun to scale. Label each planet and include information about the composition (what the planet is made of). Color the planet appropriately.
  2. Draw a scale model of the distances from the sun to each planet. Pick a scale for your sun and draw out this second model. Label each planet and the its distance to the sun. Provide a key with the scale.

For both of these drawings, you choose the scale. For the first drawing I might recommend making the diameter of Mercury, 3031 miles, equal to 1 mm. Scale the diameter of the other planets off of this. For the second drawing, I might make the orbital radius of Neptune, 2790 million miles, equal to 50 cm and scale all of the other orbits off of this. Good luck.

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Astronomy Unit Research Part 1

As part of our astronomy unit, students need to begin familiarizing themselves with the night sky above San Diego and the specifics of how to orient themselves using the stars. By far the most important start to find in the northern hemisphere is Polaris (the North Star) due to its orientation along earth’s axial tilt. Start by going to this article on the SummitPost blog to read more about how to locate Polaris in the northern hemisphere.

When you are finished with the article and feel you have a sense for locating Polaris, research and learn about the following topics: Bortle Scale, light intensity magnitude, and how to calculate magnification of the telescope.

Finally, if you have time, begin to familiarize yourself with the Messier Catalog of objects in the night sky. Write a post in your blog commenting on what you would like to photograph and why.

1st Semester Plan

During the first semester every student in this physics class has to submit 26 items to their blog. The breakdown for these items is as follows:

  • 10 Problem Sets. We will start these the week of Sept 14th and have one to two per week. You will only need to get 10 signed off.
  • 10 Writing Pieces. Each writing piece is a short blog post that should be a few paragraphs in length. Five of these written posts can come in the form of video reflections. For a video reflection, you should watch one of the approved physics videos and answer the following questions: 1) What was the science the video taught (summarize the main scientific ideas the video explores)? 2) Why is it significant? 3) What questions does this raise for you and why does that matter? The other five writing pieces should come from texts and seminars. When you’re given an approved text, you will be given a prompt to write about.
  • 3 Mini Projects. You will be required to do some acting practice (of which the Hindu plays are 1/2), sewing (we will work on sewing pajamas later in the semester, and painting in preparation for the Toga Night play. You will be allowed to replace one of these mini-projects with a pre-approved project you propose.
  • 3 Major Projects. Everyone will be part of a team that takes and frames an object in outer space. Everyone will build and test a rocket engine. Everyone will have to perform oat Toga Night.

All of these pieces of work will have a blog post requirement. Your letter grade will drop by 1/2 (B to B- for example) if you are missing any written pieces or problem sets. Your letter grade will drop by a full grade if you are missing a mini project. Your letter grade will drop two full grades if you are missing a major project.