Coursework Requirements

Choose one task from list A and one task from list B1 or B2

List A Observations

Naked eye observations

  1. Observe and draw the Moon’s phases over a period of at least one lunar month, recording the dates, times, seeing and weather conditions, and rising and setting times.
  2. Observe and make detailed drawings of three different constellations, recording dates, times, seeing and weather conditions and noting colours (if possible) and magnitudes by comparison with reference stars.
  3. Observe a meteor shower. Record meteor trails on a drawing of the stellar background from sketches and estimate magnitudes of the meteors. Locate and show the position of the radiant.
  4. Use a shadow stick to record the direction of the Sun at different times on at least two days and hence determine (a) the time of local noon and (b) the observer’s longitude.

Photographic, binocular and telescopic observations

  1. Observe the Moon with the aid of a suitable optical instrument and present photographs and/or drawings of lunar craters and/or other surface phenomena on at least two occasions, including details of the instrument(s) used with dates, times, and seeing and weather conditions.
  2. Observe three different celestial objects with the aid of binoculars or a telescope and present photographs and/or drawings of these objects, including details of the instrument(s) used with dates, times, and seeing and weather conditions.
  3. Project the image of the Sun onto a suitable background and either observe and record sunspots over a sufficiently long period of time to determine the Sun’s rotation period or observe and record the various stages of a partial or total solar eclipse.
  4. Take long-exposure photographs of the circumpolar stars around Polaris or the South celestial pole and use them to explain and determine the length of the sidereal day.

List B1 Graphical and computational work

  1. Construct a star chart on a large rectangular grid using stars of the main constellations. Plot the positions and path(s) of at least one planet using either original observations or published ephemerides (eg Handbook of the BAA).
  2. Draw a large chart of the Moon from references to photographic material, marking in and naming principal features and positions of Apollo and other notable lunar landing sites.
  3. Use a spreadsheet and/or a graphing package or write a computer program to plot the stars of the main constellations and plot the positions and path(s) of at least one planet using either original observations or published ephemerides (eg Handbook of the BAA).
  4. Use a spreadsheet and/or a graphing package or write a computer program which simulates the scaled orbits of either at least four planets around the Sun or the major satellites of a named planet.

List B2 Constructional work

  1. Design and make a simple telescope using a variety of tubes, lenses and/or mirrors. Test the instrument in the night sky and estimate its power of magnification, field of view, magnitude limit and angular resolution.
  2. Design and make a sundial. Use the sundial to record the times of day on at least three widely separated occasions and compare these with the mean local times.
  3. Design and make a model of an eclipsing binary system using a motor, lamps and simple electronic components (eg LDR). Obtain measurements suitable for drawing a light curve for the model and compare this with the light curve of a real eclipsing binary system.
  4. Design and make a model of the Sun-Earth-Moon system using lamps, spheres etc to illustrate how solar and lunar eclipses occur. Use it to account for the relative occurrences and durations of each type of eclipse.

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