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written by Jennifer Scott
This guide describes a novel project structure for sky observations commonly assigned in introductory level astronomy students at either the high school or undergraduate level. The project is an outside class assignment optimized for a large course that meets during the day. The goal of this activity is for students to make independent observations at a fixed time of day to develop an understanding of: (1) how annual motion of the Earth relates to observed position of the Sun as it sets towards the West; and (2) changes in the Moon phase over the lunar month and how the phase of the Moon relates to its position in the sky relative to the Sun. Students synthesize their understanding by responding to summary questions at the conclusion of the project. The questions require students to use their collection of observations to make predictions about future sunset and Moon positions and Moon phases.

A critical component of this work is an associated scoring script, available through GitHub. The algorithm uses Sun and Moon position data and Moon phase data downloaded by the user from the United States Naval Observatory to score student input and provide feedback in an efficient manner. This allows instructors to assign and grade student observations even in a large university class.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
- Fundamentals
= Night Sky
- Solar System
= The Moon
- The Sun
- Lower Undergraduate
- High School
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Instructor Guide/Manual
= Student Guide
- Assessment Material
= Rubric
= Test
- Tool
= Code
= Software
- Dataset
= Database
Intended Users Formats Ratings
- Learners
- Educators
- text/html
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Access Rights:
Free access
This material is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.
Rights Holder:
Jennifer Scott
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created May 26, 2021 by Jennifer Scott
Record Updated:
June 22, 2021 by Bruce Mason
Last Update
when Cataloged:
May 25, 2021
Other Collections:

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AIP Format
J. Scott, (2021), WWW Document, (
J. Scott, Sky Observing Project (2021), <>.
APA Format
Scott, J. (2021, May 25). Sky Observing Project. Retrieved July 12, 2024, from
Chicago Format
Scott, Jennifer. Sky Observing Project. May 25, 2021. (accessed 12 July 2024).
MLA Format
Scott, Jennifer. Sky Observing Project. 2021. 25 May 2021. 12 July 2024 <>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Author = "Jennifer Scott", Title = {Sky Observing Project}, Volume = {2024}, Number = {12 July 2024}, Month = {May 25, 2021}, Year = {2021} }
Refer Export Format

%A Jennifer Scott %T Sky Observing Project %D May 25, 2021 %U %O text/html

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%0 Electronic Source %A Scott, Jennifer %D May 25, 2021 %T Sky Observing Project %V 2024 %N 12 July 2024 %8 May 25, 2021 %9 text/html %U

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