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What is your real star
Student brief
Materials and equipment:
Zodiacal constellation sheets
Sticky tape
2 marbles – one for the Earth and the other for the Sun
2 small pieces of ‘Blu-tak’ (to stop the marbles rolling away)
Do you know your birth sign? The idea is that on your birthday the Sun is in
line with the constellation of your birth sign - making it impossible to see the
Constellation from the surface of the Earth because the sun is in front of it.
Cut out the Zodiacal constellations from the sheets.
Now use the information on the Zodiac chart to join them together into a
“circle of animals” with sticky tape. Use the astronomical Zodiac. They need
to be in the correct order as they are in the sky, with the stars facing inwards.
You will notice that there are 13 constellations rather than 12, as the
Babylonians left out the constellation Ophiuchus (the snake carrier).
Compare where the Sun was at you and your partners birth using the zodiac
chart. You have the choice of several signs – the astronomical zodiac tells
you in which constellation the Sun really was when you were born. The
Sidereal zodiac is used by Eastern Astrologers, it changes over long periods
to allow for a wobble of the Earth axis which makes the seasons and the
zodiac signs drift, completing a complete turn every 26,000 years. The
Tropical Zodiac is fixed on the seasons so it is only accurate to the stars every
26000 years. This is the one used in the West, on which horoscopes in
magazines and newspapers are based.
Decide how to move your Earth, Sun or Zodiac to explain the apparent
movement of the Sun through the Zodiac. Make sure that you can use the
model to show the arrangement on your birthday. Be prepared to explain
your idea to the rest of the class. Draw the model when viewed from above.
Show the positions of the Sun, Earth and your birth sign constellation. Show
the directions of any rotations that can explain seasonal and daily
movements. Remember that in comparison to your Sun/Earth distance, the
stars of the constellations are at vastly greater and all very different distances.
Created by M. Cripps, Neatherd High School, Norfolk, UK