Introduction to the Day and Night Sky - Overview

Pan-Canadian Learning Outcomes

It is expected that students will...

Science, Technology, Society and Environment (STSE)

Nature of science and technology

Demonstrate the importance of using the languages of science and technology to compare and communicate ideas, processes, and results (e.g., use appropriate terminology such as "constellations," "planets," "moons," "comets," "asteroids," and "meteors" to describe objects in space)

Relationships between science and technology

Describe instances where scientific ideas and discoveries have led to new inventions and applications (e.g., describe examples for producing electrical energy, such as how a better understanding of tides has led to their harnessing)

Social and environmental contexts of science and technology

Compare tools, techniques, and scientific ideas used by different people around the world to interpret natural phenomena and meet their needs (e.g., compare how different cultures over time, such as the Celts, the Aztecs, and the Egyptians, have traced the positions of stars to determine the appropriate time to plant and harvest crops)


Initiating and planning

Record observations using a single word, notes in point form, sentences, and simple diagrams and charts (e.g., use a data table to record night sky observations)


Identify constellations in the night sky
Night Sky

Module Topics

  1. Introduction to the sky
    • The sky has captivated human interest for centuries
    • Telescopes reveal detail in the night sky
    • The sky consists of several different kinds of celestial bodies
      • Sun
      • Moon
      • Stars
      • Planets
      • Asteroids
      • Comets
      • Nebulae Galaxies
  2. Day and Night
    • Sun's light consists of a complete spectrum of light
    • The atmosphere refracts blue component = blue sky
    • Stars are present during the day, but are hidden from view
  3. Celestial Sphere
    • Relative position of stars doesn't change; all motion is apparent
    • Stars move in the night sky because of diurnal motion
    • Stars appear to circle the north celestial pole
      • Polaris
  4. Earth's Rotation
    • Nightly changes in the sky
    • Stars rise 4 minutes earlier every day
  5. Sundials
    • Detect Earth's rotation by observing the path of the sun in the sky
    • By observing the path, we can determine the time of day
    • Sundial consists of two key components
      • gnomon
      • hemispherical base
    • Largest sundials
      • Lloydminster, AB
      • Jaipur, India
  6. Relative Motion
    • Stars do not change their positions
    • Moon and planets have their own orbit motion
    • Positions of the planets vary day to day
  7. Constellations, Patterns in the Sky
    • Stars appear in dicernable patterns
    • Ancient Greeks first envisioned the constellations
    • Asterisms are the imaginary lines that join the stars in constellations
    • Pointer stars help to locate other constellations
    • 88 Constellations
    • Star charts are helpful in locating objects in the night sky
  8. Ancient Civilizations and the Night Sky
    • Understanding the patterns in the sky was important to ancient cultures
    • Greeks had extensive stories and myths about the constellations
  9. The Ecliptic and the Zodiac
    • Ecliptic is the path that the Sun travels on the celestial sphere
    • Zodiac constellations lie on the ecliptic
    • 12 Zodiac constellations for 12 months of the year
  10. Summary