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ZOOM: Everyday Astronomy: Orienting Yourself in Space, Time, and the Sky   

**This class will be taught on Zoom**

In this 12-hour, 6-week course, we will examine how so many aspects of our everyday lives are intimately connected with the Sun, Moon, and the sky. Using everyday language, analogies, humor, and lots of visual aids, we will see how our sense of time, motion, seasons, and light and dark all stem from the way the Earth interacts with the other worlds in our neighborhood.

We’ll examine where the idea of a day, week, month and year come from, how eclipses happen (and which ones are coming to the US), how fast you are moving in the cosmos when you are sitting still, the evolving motion of the Moon, the reasons for the seasons, the past and future of the constellations, supermoons and blood moons, the zodiac, etc.  We’ll also lay to rest some folk wisdom that is not so wise, including full moon madness, the flat-Earth delusion, UFOs as alien spaceships, and the idea that the planets can affect your destiny (astrology). You’ll finish with a new awareness of how much cosmic cycles and cosmic events are part of your life.


Main Topics:


  1. Definitions of terms and the nature of science
  2. Earth in Space Scale Models
  3. How fast are you moving when you are sitting still?
  4. Your cosmic address

A. Earth in Space and Time

Earth in Space Questions

  1. How do we know shape of Earth? (Flat Earth vs Round Earth)
  2. How do we know it’s the Earth that turns and not the sky?
  3. How big is the Earth?
  4. How do we know Earth goes around the Sun?

Earth in Time Questions

  1. How old is the Earth?
  2. How do we measure time and why? (day, month, year, week)
  3. What are the reasons for the seasons?

B. The Moon

Moon Questions

  1. Where did the Moon come from?
  2. How do we know the Moon is moving away from us? (the role of tides)
  3. Why does the Moon show phases (look different as the month goes by)?
  4. Can the Moon cause lunacy?
  5. How do we answer people who claim astronauts never landed on the Moon?
  6. Why does the Moon look so big at dusk and dawn?
  7. What is a Supermoon?

C. The Sun

Sun Questions:

  1. How do we use the Sun to set up a planet-wide system of time?
  2. What happens at the international date line? (hint: it’s not like
  3. Can the Sun really supply our energy needs?
  4. Why is the sky blue; why is it dark at night?
  5. What happens when the Sun, Moon, Earth line up and we get lunar and solar eclipses?
  6. Will the spectacular 2023-24 eclipses be visible in the US (and where)?

D. Constellations and the Sky

Sky Questions:

  1. What defines the constellations? Are they an illusion?
  2. What software is best for getting to know the night sky?
  3. Why are the signs of the zodiac no longer aligned with the constellations?
  4. What are the stars and which have planets around them?
  5. Why are scientists very skeptical about astrology and UFOs

This class is not available at this time.