An applet designed to facilitate naked eye astronomy. Running the applet downloads a database of over 1200 fixed and planetary celestial objects. Skymaps can be generated for any Julian date, and sequences of Skymaps may be used to animate celestial motions at a number of different time intervals.
Type of Material:
Lecture/Demo, Independent Study
Due to the size of the class and database files, high speed internet access is necessary to run this applet.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
Understand planetary and celestial motions. Provide interactive material giving information on celestial objects.
Target Student Population:
General Astronomy classes
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Evaluation and Observation
Fairly large set of selectable astronomical objects which, when clicked on, gives information about the object and, for many, images. Generates time-sequences of the skymap so that time changes can be observed. Also includes images of a fair number of objects, although some of these are ?artistic renderings?.
Constellation names and the ecliptic plane are missing from the main view. Constellation names can be obtained by Ctrl-clicking on objects. This is not immediately obvious while in the main view. Similar commercial products exist with much more detail, but this material is free, web-based, and not meant as direct competition with more professional material.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
Recommeneded Uses for Material: Lecture/Demo, Independent study
This is a good demonstration of planetary motion, phases of the moon, and general star positions.
Lack of constellation names and borders is problematic. The effectiveness of this material was judged for in-class demonstration. Individual student use will require additional instructional material and guidance.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
Layout is attractive and controls are relatively easy to use.
Directions are somewhat sketchy in the main view, and somewhat difficult to find in the single long help file. Students in a general astronomy course would probably need help running this applet for themselves.