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published by the Astronomy Education at the University of Nebraska
written by Kevin M. Lee
This simulation-based module illustrates the universe as envisioned by early thinkers, culminating in a detailed look at the geocentric and heliocentric models. It features a detailed student manual, assessment materials, and background information. The models depict the paths of the planets and the sun during their orbits, as theorized by early Greek astronomer Ptolemy (geocentric view) and Italian Renaissance astronomer Copernicus (heliocentric view). Prior knowledge of astronomy or astrophysics is not needed, but students will need some understanding of the historical basis for the Ptolemaic system and the Copernican system.    By comparing the two models, students will explore the meaning of elongation and be able to demonstrate roughly how to calculate an elongation from observation.

Editor's Note: This module meets specific national Benchmarks for Science Literacy. Click "Standards" to see them displayed.

This resource is part of a larger collection of packaged curriculum materials by the Nebraska Astronomy Applet Project.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Astronomy
- Solar System
Classical Mechanics
- Gravity
= Orbits
- High School
- Lower Undergraduate
- Upper Undergraduate
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Interactive Simulation
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- AP Physics
- Lesson Plan
- Activity
- Laboratory
- New teachers
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Intended Users:
Learner
Educator
Format:
application/flash
Access Rights:
Free access
Restriction:
© 2007 University of Nebraska
Permission is granted to use for noncommercial purposes as long as it remains unmodified.
Keywords:
astronomy lesson plans, eccentricity, orbit, orbital period, planetary motion, planets
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created August 17, 2008 by Alea Smith
Record Updated:
April 12, 2013 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
June 30, 2008
Other Collections:

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

4. The Physical Setting

4A. The Universe
  • 6-8: 4A/M3. Nine planets of very different size, composition, and surface features move around the sun in nearly circular orbits. Some planets have a variety of moons and even flat rings of rock and ice particles orbiting around them. Some of these planets and moons show evidence of geologic activity. The earth is orbited by one moon, many artificial satellites, and debris.
4F. Motion
  • 6-8: 4F/M3b. If a force acts towards a single center, the object's path may curve into an orbit around the center.
  • 9-12: 4F/H2. All motion is relative to whatever frame of reference is chosen, for there is no motionless frame from which to judge all motion.

10. Historical Perspectives

10A. Displacing the Earth from the Center of the Universe
  • 9-12: 10A/H1. To someone standing on the earth, it seems as if it is large and stationary and that all other objects in the sky orbit around it. That perception was the basis for theories of how the universe is organized that prevailed for over 2,000 years.
  • 9-12: 10A/H2. Ptolemy, an Egyptian astronomer living in the second century A.D., devised a powerful mathematical model of the universe based on continuous motion in perfect circles, and in circles on circles. With the model, he was able to predict the motions of the sun, moon, and stars, and even of the irregular "wandering stars" now called planets.
  • 9-12: 10A/H3. In the 1500s, a Polish astronomer named Copernicus suggested that all those same motions could be explained by imagining that the earth was turning around once a day and orbiting around the sun once a year. This explanation was rejected by nearly everyone because it violated common sense and required the universe to be unbelievably large. Worse, it flew in the face of the belief, universally held at the time, that the earth was at the center of the universe.
  • 9-12: 10A/H8. The work of Copernicus, Galileo, Brahe, and Kepler eventually changed people's perception of their place in the universe.

11. Common Themes

11B. Models
  • 6-8: 11B/M1. Models are often used to think about processes that happen too slowly, too quickly, or on too small a scale to observe directly. They are also used for processes that are too vast, too complex, or too dangerous to study.
  • 6-8: 11B/M3. Different models can be used to represent the same thing. What model to use depends on its purpose.
  • 6-8: 11B/M4. Simulations are often useful in modeling events and processes.
  • 9-12: 11B/H3. The usefulness of a model can be tested by comparing its predictions to actual observations in the real world. But a close match does not necessarily mean that other models would not work equally well or better.

This resource is part of 2 Physics Front Topical Units.


Topic: Astronomy
Unit Title: Astronomy Resources For the High School Classroom

Explore both the Ptolemaic (geocentric) and Copernican (heliocentric) models of the solar system in this module that features two simulations, comprehensive student guide, pre-test, post-test, and content support for teachers.

Link to Unit:

Topic: Astronomy
Unit Title: Astronomy: An Historical Perspective

These simulations explore the universe as envisioned by early thinkers. Explore the Ptolemy's Model (geocentric) and Copernicus' Model (heliocentric). Contains student guide, pretest, post-test, and background info.

Link to Unit:
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Record Link
AIP Format
K. Lee, (Astronomy Education at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, 2007), WWW Document, (http://astro.unl.edu/naap/ssm/ssm.html).
AJP/PRST-PER
K. Lee, Nebraska Astronomy Applet Project: Solar System Models Lab, (Astronomy Education at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, 2007), <http://astro.unl.edu/naap/ssm/ssm.html>.
APA Format
Lee, K. (2008, June 30). Nebraska Astronomy Applet Project: Solar System Models Lab. Retrieved September 21, 2014, from Astronomy Education at the University of Nebraska: http://astro.unl.edu/naap/ssm/ssm.html
Chicago Format
Lee, Kevin. Nebraska Astronomy Applet Project: Solar System Models Lab. Lincoln: Astronomy Education at the University of Nebraska, June 30, 2008. http://astro.unl.edu/naap/ssm/ssm.html (accessed 21 September 2014).
MLA Format
Lee, Kevin. Nebraska Astronomy Applet Project: Solar System Models Lab. Lincoln: Astronomy Education at the University of Nebraska, 2007. 30 June 2008. 21 Sep. 2014 <http://astro.unl.edu/naap/ssm/ssm.html>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Author = "Kevin Lee", Title = {Nebraska Astronomy Applet Project: Solar System Models Lab}, Publisher = {Astronomy Education at the University of Nebraska}, Volume = {2014}, Number = {21 September 2014}, Month = {June 30, 2008}, Year = {2007} }
Refer Export Format

%A Kevin Lee
%T Nebraska Astronomy Applet Project: Solar System Models Lab
%D June 30, 2008
%I Astronomy Education at the University of Nebraska
%C Lincoln
%U http://astro.unl.edu/naap/ssm/ssm.html
%O application/flash

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source
%A Lee, Kevin
%D June 30, 2008
%T Nebraska Astronomy Applet Project: Solar System Models Lab
%I Astronomy Education at the University of Nebraska
%V 2014
%N 21 September 2014
%8 June 30, 2008
%9 application/flash
%U http://astro.unl.edu/naap/ssm/ssm.html


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