3.2 - Celestial Observation

Topic 6 – Celestial observation

6.1 - Be able to recognise the following astronomical phenomena visible to the naked eye, including:
a) Sun
b) Moon
c) stars (including double stars, constellations and asterisms)
d) star clusters
e) galaxies and nebulae
f) planets
g) comets
h) meteors
i) aurorae
j) supernovae
and artificial objects, including:
k) artificial satellites
l) aircraft

6.2 - Be able to recognise and draw the following constellations and asterisms, including their most prominent stars:
a) Cassiopeia
b) Cygnus
c) Orion
d) Plough
e) Southern Cross
f) Summer Triangle
g) Square of Pegasus

6.3 - Understand the use of asterisms as pointers to locate specific objects in the night sky, including:
a) Arcturus and Polaris from the Plough
b) Sirius, Aldebaran and the Pleiades from Orion’s Belt
c) Fomalhaut and the Andromeda galaxy from Square of Pegasus

6.4 - Understand why there is a range of constellation, asterism and star names among different cultures

6.5 - Be able to use information from star charts, planispheres, computer programs or ‘apps’ to identify objects in the night sky

6.6 - Understand the causes and effects of light pollution on observations of the night sky

6.7 - Understand the meaning of the terms:
a) celestial sphere
b) celestial poles
c) celestial equator

6.8 - Understand the use of the equatorial coordinate system (right ascension and declination)

6.9 - Understand the use of the horizon coordinate system (altitude and azimuth)

6.10 - Understand how the observer’s latitude can be used to link the equatorial and horizon coordinates of an object for the observer’s meridian

6.11 - Understand how the observer’s meridian defines local sidereal time and an object’s hour angle

6.12 - Be able to use information on equatorial and horizon coordinates to determine:
a) the best time to observe a particular celestial object
b) the best object(s) to observe at a particular time

6.13 - Understand, in relation to astronomical observations, the terms:
a) cardinal points
b) culmination
c) meridian
d) zenith
e) circumpolarity

6.14 - Understand the diurnal motion of the sky due to the Earth’s rotation

6.15 - Be able to use a star’s declination to determine whether the star will be circumpolar from an observer’s latitude

6.16 - Understand the apparent motion of circumpolar stars, including upper transit (culmination) and lower transit

6.17 - Be able to use information about rising and setting times of stars to predict their approximate position in the sky

6.18 - Be able to find the latitude of an observer using Polaris

6.19 - Understand naked eye techniques such as dark adaptation and averted vision

6.20 - Understand the factors affecting visibility, including:
a) rising and setting
b) seeing conditions
c) weather conditions
d) landscape

6.21 - Understand the appearance of the Milky Way from Earth as seen with the naked eye

Topic 13 – Exploring starlight

13.19 - Be able to use star trail photographs to determine the length of the sidereal day

Topic 13 – Exploring starlight

13.17 - Understand the structure of gravitationally bound stellar groupings such as binary stars and clusters

Topic 14 – Stellar evolution

14.1 - Be able to use the Messier and New General Catalogue (NGC) in cataloguing nebulae, clusters and galaxies

14.2 - Be able to use the Bayer system for naming the brightest stars within a constellation

In this section you will learn about how to find constellations, the movement of stars in the sky, locating stars and planning to view them.