Make “Uncle Al's HOU Sky Wheel” to demonstrate this motion. [Print the "Coordinate Sky Wheel" and "Sky Wheel Holder" from http://www.lawrencehallofscience.org/do_science_now/science_apps_and_activities/starwheels]. Follow the instructions on the printed starwheel sheet, and when it is cut out and assembled, set the Sky Wheel for near the end of the school year, June 1, at shortly after sunset, say 9 p.m.
Notice the Big Dipper is high in the sky and the tip of the handle is near Right Ascension 14 hours, which in turn points close to the word “Southern” in “Southern Horizon” on the Star Wheel Holder. The times on the Star Wheel Holder are always standard time, so you may need to take that into account if your clock is set to daylight savings time.
Rotate the Star Wheel FORWARD 2 hours (to 11 p.m. standard time on June 1).
2.1 What Right Ascension line now points to the word “Southern” in Southern Horizon?
2.2 What constellation just rose, almost due east?
2.3 What constellation is setting in the northwest?
2.4 What constellation is closest to the zenith (highest place in the sky; center of the map)?
Rotate the Star Wheel FORWARD by another 2 hours (to 1 am standard time on June 1).
2.5 What Right Ascension line now points to the word “Southern” in Southern Horizon?
2.6 What constellation is closest to the zenith?
2.7 What constellation is rising, almost due east?
2.8 What constellation is setting in the west?
Rotate the Star Wheel FORWARD another 2 hours (to 3 am standard time, June 1).
2.9 What Right Ascension line now points to the word "Southern" in Southern Horizon?
2.10 What constellation is closest to the zenith?
2.11 What constellation is rising in the northeast?
2.12 What constellation is setting in the northwest?
Notice that there is one star in the sky which does not seem to change its position ever. It's at the tip of the handle of the Little Dipper, (Ursa Minor) and is called Polaris, or the North Star.
Now some more questions to test your Star Wheel driving skill:
2.13 What constellation is near the zenith on New Year's Eve at 11 p.m.?
2.14 In what month is the Big Dipper (Ursa Major) highest in the sky at midnight?
2.15 About what time is Leo setting (in the northwest) on the summer solstice (about June 21)?
2.16 How many degrees does the sky shift in one month?
2.17 In which constellation is the Owl Nebula?
You can download the HOU Messier Object Excel spreadsheets at http://www.planetarium-activities.org/shows/ct/starwheels/MessierCatalog.xls. You might choose to mark the BRIGHTEST Messier objects on your Coordinate Star Wheel, or perhaps the CLOSEST Messier objects.
2.18 Get image(s) of Messier object(s). In book(s) or searching the worldwide web, find Messier objects of the following types: nebulae (gas clouds), globular star clusters, open star clusters, galaxies. Print one for wall decoration or save for a computer screen display.
You can mark the positions of planets on your Coordinate Star Wheel, but since they change, it’s best if you make those marks in pencil so you can erase and update their positions as needed.
Good ways to find planets include:
You can also get an ephemeris of the Planet's Coordinates which is a table of celestial coordinates pinpointing the object's location at specific time intervals as it moves in the sky. You can find an Ephemeris generator at the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) website, http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/horizons.cgi.