Friday, March 22, 2013

Looking Up

daytime moon
Our final unit in science this year is astronomy. It has been plagued by regular interruptions caused by sickness, surgery, and traveling. Somehow we have still managed to spend a little time learning about the universe.

I initially laid out plans for a ten week unit that would wrap up in March. Due to the schedule difficulties, we will now continue working on the study until the end of April. At this point we have covered six lessons from the Janice VanCleave book, Constellations, thirteen lessons from God's Design for Heaven & Earth, and all but one of the lectures from the Great Courses series, Our Night Sky. We spent one evening with the telescope studying the moon. The boys also learned to find and identify many of the constellations visible at this time of the year. I regularly employed BrainPOP for further instruction and activity sheets.

One other resource I have relied on heavily for this unit was the EarthSky website. We received a planisphere with our copy of Our Night Sky, and have found it to be an invaluable tool. This article at the EarthSky website explains why it's such a useful thing to have. EM especially enjoys adjusting the planisphere to find out how the stars are moving through the sky.

One of the best things about our astronomy unit was that it lined up with an opportunity to view comet PANSTARRS. I managed to get a decent picture of the comet from my parents' house on March 14th. The boys took a quick look and then ran off to play basketball. Because I missed my chance to see Halley's Comet in 1986, I knew that if I didn't go check this one out I'd regret it. If we're lucky, we will have a even better view of comet ISON in late November of this year.

I'm always happy when our planned studies line up so well with events going on in the 'real' world. Being able to tie what we are learning to day to day life makes it so much more memorable for the boys, and so much more satisfying for me.

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