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Solar System Models Lab — Pedagogical Objectives


  • Students will be able to describe some basic observations such as objects rise in the east, the stars all move at the same rate, the moon moves at a slower rate than the stars and the sun.
  • Students will understand that both early Greek astronomy and European Renassiance astronomy believed that the earth was round and give at least one argument based on casual observation which supports this.
  • Students will know which of the planets are visible to the naked eye.
  • Students will be able to explain the difference between prograde and retrograde motion.
  • Students will know the meaning of elongation and be able to demonstrate roughly how to calculate an elongation from observation.
  • Students will be able to identify various configurations: conjuctions, quadrature, greatest elongations.
  • Students will associate these configurations as important to Copernicus's formulation of the heliocentric model.
  • Students will be able to explain and differentiate sidereal versus synodic periods.
  • Students will be able to identify trends in synodic period and distance from the earth.