States of Matter
During several hands-on investigations, students
explore liquids, solids, and gases. We'll find that sometimes it's tough to decide which category to assign to different
combinations of materials.
Key concepts: liquid,
solid, gas, acid, base, observation, record [observations].
In grades 4-5 students learn the full implications
of the spherical-Earth concept and Earth's place in the Solar System. The upper elementary years are an excellent time for
study of the Earth in space because students have the intellectual capacity to grasp the spherical-Earth concept and the relationship
between the Earth and Sun. This major set of concepts is a stepping-stone to a later understanding of all concepts in astronomy
and space science and an essential element to further understanding of how the Earth and other planets formed. [From
Earth, planet, moon, new moon, full moon, phase,
waxing, waning, cresent, gibbous, gravity, axis, rotate, orbit, ecliptic plane, constellation.
Advanced organizing: comparing, communicating,
SKY DURING APRIL1
April is always my
favorite month to enjoy the evening sky.
Not only should it be getting warmer so you can observe the sky without
bundling up, but the sunsets are still relatively early. However, what really sets April apart is that
there are more bright stars in the evening sky than at any other time of the
year. This special month will have an
extra bonus this year because two bright planets will join the bright stars. Saturn will rise in the eastern sky at
10:00 as April begins but before sunset by the end of the month. Once up, it will follow Spica, the brightest
star in the constellation Virgo (the Maiden.) across the sky. Spica can be located by continuing the arc of
the Big Dipper’s handle, first to Arcturus, the brightest star in the
constellation Bootes (the Herdsman), and then "speeding on" to
Even brighter Jupiter
will be in the western sky to the upper right of Aldebaran, the brightest star
in the constellation Taurus (the Bull).
Aldebaran can be located by using the three "belt" stars of
Orion (the Hunter) to point to the right (or northward) toward it. Jupiter will be the brightest
"star" in the sky. You can
compare its brightness with Sirius, the brightest star in the sky as seen from
earth, by using the belt stars of Orion to point to the left (or southward) to
find Sirius in the constellation Canis Major (the Great Dog).
When you see these two
bright planets it is interesting to note that Jupiter orbits the Sun in 12
years while the more distant and slower moving Saturn takes 30 years. Jupiter last caught up and passed Saturn in
spring of 2000 when both planets were entering Taurus. Since then, Jupiter has orbited the Sun and
returned to Taurus while Saturn has moved only to the eastern part of
Virgo. Now that both planets are in the
sky for a part of each year, we will be able to see Jupiter slowly catching up
to Saturn. Although each year Jupiter
will get closer to Saturn, it won't catch Saturn until December 2020. By then they will be in the dim constellation
Capricornus (the Sea Goat).
Since it takes Jupiter
12 years to circle the Sun, it moves through about one constellation each
year. For the next few months we will be
able to observe it moving slowly away from Aldebaran and toward Gemini (the
Twins). You can find Gemini and predict
where Jupiter will be by using the two brightest stars of Orion. A line from Rigel (Orion's western or left
knee) through Betelgeuse (Orion's eastern or right shoulder) will point toward
bright Castor (above) and Pollux (below), the twin stars of Gemini. These are the only two bright stars that are
close together in the entire sky, and next year they will have an even brighter
neighbor, Jupiter, to their right and between the dimmer stars that make up the
bodies of the twins.
13 The crescent Moon will be on
a line between bright Aldebaran in the constellation Taurus (the Bull) to its
left and the Pleiades (or Seven Sisters) Open Star Cluster to its right. Brilliant Jupiter will be above the Moon.
14 The Moon will have moved to
be close to the upper left of brilliant Jupiter and farther above Aldebaran.
17 The Moon will be to the lower
left of Castor (above) and Pollux (below), the bright twin stars of Gemini (the
Twins) and to the upper right of Procyon, the only bright star of Canis Minor
(the Little Dog).
20 Celebrate National Astronomy
Day with the Grout Museum and Black Hawk Astronomy Club. There will be special family activities and
star gazing, Hoover Middle School Observatory, Waterloo, 7:30-10:00.
The Moon will be below
Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation Leo (the Lion).
22 a.m. The modest Lyrid Meteor Shower
will peak with a meteor seen about every 5 minutes. Since the Moon will be bright for most of the
night, the best time to see meteors will be about one to two hours before
sunrise. Meteors may be seen all over
the sky, but they will seem to have originated from nearly overhead.
24 The bright Moon will be just
below Spica, the brightest star of the constellation Virgo (the Maiden), and to
the upper right of the planet Saturn.
full Moon will rise at about sunset to the lower right of the planet
Saturn. They move across the sky
together during the rest of the night.
Phase Date Rises
Highest point Sets When visible
quarter Apr. 2 Midnight Sunrise
moon Apr. 10 Sunrise Noon Sunset Not
quarter Apr. 18 Noon Sunset
moon Apr. 25 Sunset Midnight
1Dates and times are
Sources: Stardate, Mar/Apr. 2013. Vol. 41, No. 2.
Sky and Telescope, Apr. 2013. Vol. 125, No. 4.
Thanks to Dr. David Voigts for his help in compiling this information.