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Informal Science

Written in the Stars: Winter is Coming

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Matt Bobrowsky Matthew Bobrowsky 5730 Points

[size=100]Hi, Everyone! I went outside early this morning while it was still dark, looked up, and saw all my old constellation friends -- Orion (with its bright stars Rigel and Betelgeuse), Canis Major (the Big Dog, with Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky), Canis Minor (the Little Dog, with Procyon), Gemini (with Castor and Pollux), Auriga (with Capella), and Taurus (with Aldebaran and the Pleiades). I’ve been watching these constellations since I was a child, and there’s always been some comfort in the fact that they’re always there when and where expected. So I think of them as old friends. The appearance of these constellations is a sign that winter is approaching. Early this morning, those constellations were in the southwest but could have been seen in the (eastern) sky as early as about 11:00 PM. As the months go by, they will be visible at the same place in the sky earlier in the night, until, in winter, those constellations will be visible in the early evening -- a more convenient time for most people to view the constellations. That is why they are considered to be winter constellations. To the upper left of those constellations, I also saw Jupiter. It’s in Leo right now, and if you go out in the early-morning hours some time in the next few days, you can’t miss it (if the sky is clear). These days Jupiter is the brightest object in the pre-dawn sky. It would make an interesting long-term project for students to watch the constellations throughout the school year and see how their positions in the sky and the times when they’re visible change due to the motion of the earth. Matt [/size] [size=80]================================================= Dr. Matthew Bobrowsky Adjunct Professor University of Maryland University College E-mail: matt.bobrowsky@faculty.umuc.edu Tel. 443-812-5466 and Director of Special Programs College of Mathematics, Natural Sciences, and Technology Delaware State University 1200 N. DuPont Highway Dover, DE 19901-2277 302-857-7729 (office) 443-812-5466 (cell) mbobrowsky@desu.edu [url=http://www.linkedin.com/in/mattbobrowsky]http://www.linkedin.com/in/mattbobrowsky[/url] =================================================[/size]

Linda Ngo Linda Ngo 2775 Points

I really enjoy reading your post. It looks like you enjoy science and learning about all types of stars. This will make middle school or high school students to be more interested in learning about all types of stars. It would definitely be helpful to take a close look through the telescope during the night time.

Julie Castaneda Julie Castaneda 1930 Points

Hello Dr. Matthew! My name is Julie and I am currently a senior at UMBC. I really enjoyed your post and can tell that science is a passion for you as well as that you might be incorporating it in your classroom. i think it is a great idea to have students observe the stars, especially since it is an assignment that they can do independently and present their own questions and findings to the class. How would suggest having students collect data and how would you gradually tie in observations with benchmarks to know that the students are learning from their observations? I am still very inexperienced and have heard of some ways to do this in the classroom but would love to hear your suggestions! Thanks for sharing! Keep the sky watch alive! Julie Castaneda

Fozia Baig fozia baig 810 Points

Wow Dr. Mathew that was great! I really enjoyed reading your post. Based on your certifications and your post, I can see that science is your passion! When I was reading about the stars, I got a great idea for myself to integrate into a lesson that I am doing with the kids right now. Thank you so much and good luck with everything!

Shelbi Ingle Shelbi Ingle 1490 Points

Hi Matt, I think having students observe the stars and constellations throughout the school year is a great idea. A possible way to do this would be to have the students keep a star and constellation watching journal that they are required to write in two times a week. Also if you can take a picture of the stars once a week or month at the end of the year you can track the movement of the stars with the students. Since many students are visual learners, the pictures may help them to understand the concept that the constellations move positions. -Shelbi

Jody Grandier jody grandier 1600 Points

[sub]I love the idea of having the students observe stars and constellations.  I think having them write a few points you ask them and drawing a picture 2 to 3 times a week would go well with this.  We are doing something like that this with observing a tree and it has really opened my eyes to the changes and has helped me see things I've never noticed before.  I am so excited at age 35 my eyes are being opened to new things and can't wait to do this in my classroom with different things during the year.  I have now added stars to my list, so thanks!!![/sub]

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