the University of Chicago Digital Library Development Center
the Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum
This interactive tutorial promotes understanding of why Earth's rotation makes it appear as though stars are orbiting the Earth. The simulation features Polaris (the North Star) as its focal point to show that stars are fixed in their positions -- it's the Earth which is moving as it rotates on its axis. Views of Polaris are simulated from both the North Pole and the city of Chicago, offering hour-by-hour views of the sky on a clear night from both reference points.
This simulation is part of a teaching module on cultural astronomy. See Related Items for a link to the full module.
eCUIP is a digital library project developed as a collaboration between Chicago Public Schools and the University of Chicago.
Metadata instance created
November 15, 2011
by Caroline Hall
November 15, 2011
by Caroline Hall
Last Update when Cataloged:
June 30, 2012
AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)
4. The Physical Setting
4A. The Universe
3-5: 4A/E3. Planets change their positions against the background of stars.
4B. The Earth
3-5: 4B/E2bc. The rotation of the earth on its axis every 24 hours produces the night-and-day cycle. To people on earth, this turning of the planet makes it seem as though the sun, moon, planets, and stars are orbiting the earth once a day.
9-12: 4F/H2. All motion is relative to whatever frame of reference is chosen, for there is no motionless frame from which to judge all motion.
10. Historical Perspectives
10A. Displacing the Earth from the Center of the Universe
9-12: 10A/H1. To someone standing on the earth, it seems as if it is large and stationary and that all other objects in the sky orbit around it. That perception was the basis for theories of how the universe is organized that prevailed for over 2,000 years.
9-12: 10A/H3. In the 1500s, a Polish astronomer named Copernicus suggested that all those same motions could be explained by imagining that the earth was turning around once a day and orbiting around the sun once a year. This explanation was rejected by nearly everyone because it violated common sense and required the universe to be unbelievably large. Worse, it flew in the face of the belief, universally held at the time, that the earth was at the center of the universe.
11. Common Themes
6-8: 11B/M1. Models are often used to think about processes that happen too slowly, too quickly, or on too small a scale to observe directly. They are also used for processes that are too vast, too complex, or too dangerous to study.
6-8: 11B/M4. Simulations are often useful in modeling events and processes.
This resource is part of a Physics Front Topical Unit.
Topic: Astronomy Unit Title: Astronomy Activities
A great simulation to help students understand that stars are not moving in the night sky......our planet's rotation on its axis just makes it appear so. This sim features Polaris as the focal point for investigating moving reference frames.
<a href="http://www.thephysicsfront.org/items/detail.cfm?ID=11544">Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum, and University of Chicago Digital Library Development Center. eCUIP Project: Where Is Polaris?. June 30, 2012.</a>
Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum, and University of Chicago Digital Library Development Center. eCUIP Project: Where Is Polaris?. June 30, 2012. http://ecuip.lib.uchicago.edu/diglib/science/cultural_astronomy/interactives/polaris/where_is_polaris.html (accessed 3 December 2016).
eCUIP Project: Where Is Polaris?. 2002. 30 June 2012. Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum, and University of Chicago Digital Library Development Center. 3 Dec. 2016 <http://ecuip.lib.uchicago.edu/diglib/science/cultural_astronomy/interactives/polaris/where_is_polaris.html>.
%0 Electronic Source %D June 30, 2012 %T eCUIP Project: Where Is Polaris? %V 2016 %N 3 December 2016 %8 June 30, 2012 %9 application/flash %U http://ecuip.lib.uchicago.edu/diglib/science/cultural_astronomy/interactives/polaris/where_is_polaris.html
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