Explaining the Solar System


What is the sun doing during every day? What can you see in the sky each night? 

This unit is a descriptive account of the contents and history of the universe, as it is pictured by scientists over the past fifty years.  You will learn how four forces shape our universe. You using your understanding of the gravitational force and the electrical force to explain the brightness and color of the stars you see. 

As in all of the IntuitivScience series, diagrams are the most important mode of learning. You will approach understanding of the motions of the moon by making naked-eye observations over several full lunar cycles. During that time, you can build a pinhole camera to safely observe the sun. The moons of Jupiter are an instructive model of the solar system, and you can observe them with ordinary binoculars.  

Parents and teachers, you get one half of the book! Each two-page student activity is accompanied by a two-page teacher / parent guide, so you can help your student proceed. 

The whole book is divided into four major sections, each requiring a little more than one week to complete.

  1. Construction of some simple instruments to assist in observation of the earth, the sun, the moon, and time, all from your own location.
  2. Observation of the sun, the closest star.  From these observations we move to an understanding of the forces that shape our sun and its behavior.
  3. Observation of the moon, and other satellites.  From these observations we build an understanding of the role of gravitation in orbital motion
  4. Research project: Things within our solar system
  5. Research project: Things beyond our solar system

This time line is divided into five separate one-week blocks.  You could do them in a single five-week period. Alternatively, students could extend their observations over several months, a week at a time, while studying other subjects.

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