TO ENSURE THAT YOU HAVE ENOUGH TIME TO COMPLETE THIS PROJECT, YOU MUST START THIS PROJECT AT LEAST ONE MONTH BEFORE THE END OF THE SEMESTER.
 

MAKING THE OBSERVATIONS

Throughout the next month, you will be observing the Moon on a regular basis, in fact you will be looking at it once a day.  The observations take about 1 minute to do, once you get the hang of it.  

FINDING THE MOON

If you have trouble finding the Moon in the beginning (it is only visible for 1/2 of the day) then consult your daily newspaper's weather section which will have moonrise and moonset times for that day.  This will help you look for it in the sky at the right time.  You can also use the internet to find the time of moonrise and moonset (click here to go to a website that will help you).  NOTE:  You do not have to observe the Moon rising or setting.  it can be anywhere in the sky when you make your observation.

You will need to be flexible.  The Moon is NOT always out at the same time each day.  You will need to make observations sometimes at night and sometimes during the day as the Moon progresses through its orbit.

At every observation (you must have at least 15 observations to receive full credit):

Use this data table (or one just like it) to record your observations.

For each observation you must include the following information:
(NOTE:  Be accurate in recording the information from your observations, I will be checking several things to ensure your honesty in your project... trust me, I really wish I didn't have to do this...)

1)    Draw a small sketch (no photographs necessary) of the appearance of the Moon.
2)    Write down the date and the local time of your observation.
3)    Indicate the sky conditions (clear, cloudy, etc.).
4)    Determine the current phase of the Moon.
5)    Determine the altitude and the azimuth of the Moon (see below for directions).

TRY TO MAKE ONE OBSERVATION EVERY DAY!!! (weather permitting)

MEASURING ALTITUDE AND AZIMUTH

A compass works best for making measurements, however since most of you don't have any advanced tools to measure altitude and azimuth, we will use some simple ones that you surely have, namely your hands.  When you make a fist and hold it out at arm's length, it represents approximately 10 degrees.   

You can check this out by going fist over fist from the horizon to the point directly over your head. There is 90 degrees from the horizon to the point directly overhead, and thus should span approximately 9 "fists".

For each observation of the Moon, find the Moon in the sky and find the point along the horizon directly below the Moon (see below).  Measure how many "fists" the Moon is above the horizon.  This is the altitude measurement of the Moon in degrees (see diagram below)

Figure A - Azimuth Figure B - Azimuth & Altitude Figure C - Fist size is 10 degrees of sky

Measuring azimuth is a bit more tricky.  Azimuth is the number of degrees ALONG the horizon, starting from true north, and always passing through the east (see Figure A above).  First you must determine exactly where north is on your horizon when you are making your observations.  Then drop an imaginary line down from the Moon to the horizon and count how many fists it takes to go from north to where the imaginary line touches the horizon (see Figures A & B above).  Each fist equals 10 degrees.  Multiply the number of fists you used by 10 to get the azimuth in degrees (see Figure C above).  As stated above, alternatively, a cheap compass can be used instead of using your fist for measuring azimuth.  Many places (Walmart, Target, etc.) will sell cheap compasses in their camping departments.

It is recommended (but not required) that you always make your Moon observations from the same location for convenience.  This will make it so you do not need to determine true north every time/place you go.  You can find the direction of north by using a compass, or the north star (do not use a nearby northbound freeway or street to find north!).   You will need to mention how you determined north in your write-up.  Once you find north drop straight down to the horizon.  Then use the width of your fist to measure the number of degrees along the horizon from north to the point where a line dropped from the Moon to the horizon meet.  Always measure around the horizon starting at north... then through east... then through south (clockwise around the horizon).  If the Moon is in the west, you cannot take a short cut (i.e. measure from north ... to west).  You must always measure around the horizon like the face of a compass.

WHAT TO PUT IN YOUR REPORT 

(to receive full credit, your report must include all of the following)

A. Give a complete description of the location(s) where you made the observations. 
B. Give a complete description of how you determined the exact direction of north.
C. Give a complete description of how the appearance of the Moon changed over time (describe the changing phases).
D. Discuss how the location of the Moon in the sky, the time of your observations, and the position of the Moon in its orbit changed as the phase of the Moon changed.
E. Using your observations, estimate how many days it took for the cycle of lunar phases to repeat.
F. Include a diagram in which you have plotted where the Moon was in its orbit for each observation.  Use a full, separate sheet for your diagram (see the example below). 
CLICK HERE FOR AN EXAMPLE OF THE DIAGRAM FROM A PREVIOUS SEMESTER
G. Include your data table of observations with your report.  A minimum of 15 successful observations are needed for full credit.  However, if you end up with less than 15, you will receive partial credit.

NOTE:  Your written report must be a minimum of one full page (single spaced) in length to receive full credit (not including your diagrams and data sheet).  10% deduction if you do not have one full page.  CLICK HERE FOR AN EXAMPLE OF WHAT ONE FULL PAGE - SINGLE SPACE - LOOKS LIKE!

HOW TO TURN IN YOUR REPORT

  • Please do not use a three ring binder for your report.  You may use a simple report cover if you wish, but it is not necessary, you can just staple the whole packet together with a cover sheet.

  • You must display your information in a manner that will allow me to view it in the proper order.

  • If you are doing the Sunset/Sunrise project too, please do not combine it with this report.  Turn in both projects as separate items.

 
 

WARNING!!!!
Any attempt to falsify observations will be grounds for failure of this assignment...students have tried....students have been caught...students have failed......DON'T LET THIS BE YOU!

Only attempt this assignment if you are committed to do it honestly and completely...