In order to establish a reference frame, have your students construct and use a compass rose to locate fixed objects on the horizon. Finding the azimuth for these common place objects (trees, slides, buildings, and so on) will help orient your students to the idea of seeking an astronomical object's azimuth.
- Writing utensil (pencil suggested)
- Recording paper
- Compass rose constructed on the playground
- Cardinal points
- Compass rose
- Examine the recording paper with your students (for data keeping purposes, students should staple their recording papers into their notebooks after they have filled them out).
- Go outside.
- Position the students in small groups at the cardinal points of the compass rose facing the horizon.
- Have the students move around the cardinal points and record what is visible on the horizon at each point (on their recording papers).
Students should share and discuss their observations once you return to the classroom. They may identify fixed objects on their recording papers and compare them.
What would be a good fixed point on the horizon to use here?
In addition to their observations, students should answer the following questions in their journals, and be prepared to discuss them as a class.
- How can the fixed objects on the horizon be used as points of reference?
- Could a fixed point on the north horizon be identified?
- How could this point be determined other points of the compass
- How could a predetermined fixed point on the northern horizon help you find due north at night as well as in the day time?
The North Star is a fixed point in the sky, and can be used as a reference point to determine the locations of other astronomical objects such as constellations, planets, and so on. Can your students connect this to the definition of azimuth?
After this lesson, students should be able to:
- Identify the cardinal points of the compass;
- See how fixed objects on the horizon can be used to identify the locations of other objects.
North on the horizon is always the same direction for every observer. What one sees on the horizon depends on where one is observing.
Fixed objects on the horizon can be used as reference points to determine the location of other objects.
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