Welcome to practical physicsPracticle physics - practical activities designed for use in the classroom with 11 to 19 year olds

Observational astronomy

Examining the sky with the naked eye you can observe

  • the Sun crosses the sky daily, its path changing throughout the year
  • the Moon similarly crosses the sky, changing its shape and crossing times roughly monthly
  • the stars form fixed patterns which nightly roll across the sky
  • sometimes there are eclipses of the Moon and, more rarely, the Sun

Making careful measurements, astronomers through the ages have observed more subtle changes too.

Simple models illustrate, and begin to explain, these motions. The path to what scientists today understand of the Universe began like this, with naked eye observations and simple models.


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