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1 - The Sky

Link to Astronomy at West

This course was designed by Justin Higgins for use at Millard West High School. Some of the material that is listed here cannot be made public to the internet. 

If you are a educator in my district, email Mr. Higgins at for access to these files. - Higgins

Module 1: The Sky
Link to Motion of the Sky main Page

  • Student will be able to describe how the movement of the sky gives evidence for the Heliocentric view

  • Student will be able to reference an object in the sky using coordinates and be able to describe the objects location to someone else

  • Student will be able to explain the historical value of the polestar and how this value changes with time

  • Student will be able to model the celestial system

Core Materials
  • Student Outline Rubric for Module 1: The Sky
  • Pre Assessment Probes / Reflection 20 minutes / 10 minutes
    • Planning and designing of the Probes / Reflection is being brainstormed for 2016/2017
    • Changing Constellations* Keeley, 75
    • The Two Rs*   Keeley, 27
    • No Shadow* Keeley, 47
    • Shorter Days in Winter* Keeley, 69
    • Why is it Warmer in the Summer?* Keeley, 79
1A Quiz - 15 Minutes
1A Quiz Key
1A Video Link - Use this if the video doesn't load
  • Extra time is allowed on this set of notes to explain and monitor the note taking process. Students who prove their note taking abilities early are to work on academic appropriate material. 
  • Introduce students to the article analysis sheet that they will be assigned if they have 'nothing to do'. Explain that they are graded. 
Concept Focus
  • Heliocentric View of the Universe
  • Geocentric View of the Universe
  • Why Retrograde Motion changed our view of the sky (discussed around 3:10)
Review & Summarize
  1. Give reasoning why Retrograde Motion supports the Heliocentric View. (2 - 3 sentences)
Link to 1B - How the Earth revolves on its Axis
15 Minutes
1B Quiz - 15 Minutes
1B Quiz Key
1B Video LinkUse this if the video doesn't load

Concept Focus
  • What does it mean when a planet Revolves
  • What does it mean when an object Orbits
  • The path the sun makes in the sky, the Ecliptic 
  • The Axial Tilt of Earth 
Review & Summarize
  1. Write a paragraph story of you Rotating, Orbiting & Revolving around someone else 
  • Reading Focus Reinventing Time - NASA 20 Minutes
    • A reading packet about the nature of time, and why we have split time into time zones, etc. Time is based on reading to students for Vocabulary. 
Link to 1C - How the Earth's Axis creates the Poles and Equator
15 Minutes
1C Quiz - 15 Minutes
1C Quiz Key
1C Video LinkUse this if the video doesn't load

Concept Focus
  • How the Axis is related to Rotation
  • How the Poles are related to the Axis
  • How the Equator is related to the Axis
Review & Summarize
  1. Draw a diagram clearly showing the relationship between the Axis, Poles, and Equator
  • Gyroscope Discussion with students - 10 Minutes
    • Discuss that one of the reasons Earth's axis stays stable over long periods is the Earth's spin on its axis. 
    • (do this during the next few note taking times) Using the gyroscope have students individually hold the spinning gyroscope to see the resistance
1D - How we measure an Observation on Earth - 15 Minutes
Link to 1D - How we measure an Obervation on Earth
15 Minutes
1D Quiz - 15 Minutes
1D Quiz Key
1D Video LinkUse this if the video doesn't load

Concept Focus
  • Celestial Sphere 
  • Horizon as seen from your eyes 
  • Zenith as seen from your eyes 
  • What Azimuth measures 
  • What Altitude measures 
Review & Summarize
  1. Write 'None' in the Review & Summary area. You will practice these concepts in a class activity.

  • Measuring the Sky with your Hands - 10 minutes
    • Instructions from 3rd Semester: 
  • Design a Scavenger Hunt using Altitude/Azimuth - 90 minutes / 30 minutes for trials
    • Instructions from 3rd Semester: 
Link to 1E - How Solar Radiation causes the Seasons
25 Minutes
1E Quiz - 15 Minutes
1E Quiz Key
1E Video LinkUse this if the video doesn't load

Concept Focus
  • What type of day is a Solstice?
  • What type of day is an Equinox?
  • How is the Radiation that hits earth different during a Solstice/Equinox?
  • What causes the Seasons?
Review & Summarize
  1. Draw a Diagram of the 4 Seasons from the Northern Hemisphere, labeling the axis correctly for both Solstices and both Equinoxes
  • The cycle of the Seasons Poster 30 minutes
    • Instructions from 3rd Semester: 
  • Solar Oven - 70 minutes
    • Pizza Box solar ovens do not work, will need to use the large boxes from the back room to create an actual solar oven.
Link to 1F - How the Polestars of Earth slowly change
20 Minutes
1E Quiz - 15 Minutes
1E Quiz Key
1F Video LinkUse this if the video doesn't load

Concept Focus
  • Why we have Polestars 
  • What does Precession do to Polestars over time? 
Review & Summarize
  1. Look up what the current and next North Pole star will be and write a paragraph describing this change
Celebrations of Learning
  • Motion of the Sky Kahoot! 30 Minutes
  • Module 1 Multiple Choice Summative Assessment - 20 Minutes
    • Multiple Choice Test Review
      • Students are REQUIRED to be logged into the MPS domain to take this review
  • Module 1 Diagramming Formative Assessment - 45 minutes
    • Students are allowed one retake, there are two different forms of the test.

Nebraska state standards assessed in this Module:
  • Inquiry, the Nature of Science, and Technology
    • SC12.1.1.e Use tools and technology to make detailed qualitative and quantitative observations
    • SC12.1.1.g Analyze and interpret data, synthesize ideas, formulate and evaluate models, and clarify concepts and explanations
    • SC12.1.1.i Propose and/or evaluate possible revisions and alternate explanations
    • SC12.1.1.k Evaluate scientific investigations and offer revisions and new ideas as appropriate
    • SC12.1.2.a Recognize that scientific explanations must be open to questions, possible modifications, and must be based upon historical and current scientific knowledge
    • SC12.1.2.b Describe how society influences the work of scientists and how science, technology, and current scientific discoveries influence and change society
    • SC12.1.2.c Recognize that the work of science results in incremental advances, almost always building on prior knowledge, in our understanding of the world
    • SC12.1.2.d Research and describe the difficulties experienced by scientific innovators who had to overcome commonly held beliefs of their times to reach conclusions that we now take for granted

Material being evaluated (DO NOT POST TO STUDENT SITE)
  • StarryNight Simulations The simulation software stopped working as we migrated to Google. Removed from main course. These may be returned to the course if they ever work again.
    • StarryNight A1: The Day and Night Cycle* (25 - 30 minutes)
    • StarryNight Simulation E2: Constellations and Star Lore* (30-40 minutes)
    • StarryNight Simulation E3: Seasonal Constellations* (20-30 minutes)
    • StarryNight Simulation A2: Year and Seasons(20 - 30 minutes)
    • StarryNight Simulation E1: Finding your Way around the Sky* (20 - 30 minutes)