January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

Celestial Highlights for September-October and School Year 2013-2014

Posted: Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

by Robert Victor and Robert D. Miller

Astronomy instruction for elementary and secondary students should not fail to include the inspiration of direct observation of the night sky. Among the common visually impressive events are monthly pairings of Venus and the crescent Moon. While Venus is still visible in the evening sky this school year, Venus-Moon pairings will occur at dusk on 2013 Sept. 8, Oct. 7 and 8, Nov. 6, Dec.5, and on 2014 Jan. 1 and 2. Of these, the pairing on Sunday, September 8 will be the closest, and the Moon will even help the observer spot Venus as they move together across the daytime sky. From California, Moon and Venus appear closest, in the southeast sky shortly after 12:00 noon PDT, with Venus only 0.6 degree, or just over a Moon’s width, from the northern cusp or point of the crescent. When Moon and Venus are highest, due south nearly halfway from horizon to overhead around 3:15 p.m., they’re over a degree apart. By sunset, Venus will appear over 2 degrees to the right of the Moon. As twilight deepens, after 45 minutes look for Spica within 4 degrees to lower right of Venus – binoculars will help pick it out of the bright twilight – and Saturn some 11 degrees upper left of Venus and 9 degrees upper left of the crescent Moon.

Don’t wait until Sunday to have your students begin sky watching! During the week of Labor Day, the star Spica appears quite close to Venus, only 1.6 degrees lower left of the brilliant planet on

Source: Abrams Planetarium A 1-year subscription to the Abrams Sky Calendar consists of 4 quarterly mailings of three calendars each. The quarters begin with February, May, August, and November issues. Cost: $11. http://www.pa.msu.edu/abrams/SkyCalendar/Index.html

Source: Abrams Planetarium
A 1-year subscription to the Abrams Sky Calendar consists of 4 quarterly mailings of three calendars each. The quarters begin with February, May, August, and November issues. Cost: $11.
http://www.pa.msu.edu/abrams/SkyCalendar/Index.html

Thursday evening, Sept. 5. Venus now moves about a degree daily against the background, so it will be easy to notice changes in their arrangement from one night to the next. A thin crescent Moon can be easily spotted on Saturday evening, Sept. 7, if students look early enough, say half an hour after sunset. Have students keep a log of their sky watching sessions, with notes and drawings of what they see.

Source: Abrams Planetarium A 1-year subscription to the Abrams Sky Calendar consists of 4 quarterly mailings of three calendars each. The quarters begin with February, May, August, and November issues. Cost: $11. http://www.pa.msu.edu/abrams/SkyCalendar/Index.html

Source: Abrams Planetarium A 1-year subscription to the Abrams Sky Calendar consists of 4 quarterly mailings of three calendars each. The quarters begin with February, May, August, and November issues. Cost: $11. http://www.pa.msu.edu/abrams/SkyCalendar/Index.html

Source: Abrams Planetarium
A 1-year subscription to the Abrams Sky Calendar consists of 4 quarterly mailings of three calendars each. The quarters begin with February, May, August, and November issues. Cost: $11.
http://www.pa.msu.edu/abrams/SkyCalendar/Index.html

On Sunday evening, Sept. 8, as Moon and Venus sink into the west-southwest – because of the Earth’s rotation – the Moon creeps slowly to the upper left of Venus, owing to the Moon’s revolution around the Earth. Check again after sunset on Monday evening, Sept. 9, to see how far the Moon has progressed in 24 hours. On that evening, Saturn appears about 6 degrees to the right of the crescent Moon. By Wednesday evening, Sept. 11, the red supergiant star Antares appears within 7 degrees below the Moon, now nearly half full. On Thursday the 12th, the Moon appears just over half full, having passed First Quarter phase 90° east of the Sun earlier that day.

Source: Abrams Planetarium A 1-year subscription to the Abrams Sky Calendar consists of 4 quarterly mailings of three calendars each. The quarters begin with February, May, August, and November issues. Cost: $11. http://www.pa.msu.edu/abrams/SkyCalendar/Index.html

Source: Abrams Planetarium
A 1-year subscription to the Abrams Sky Calendar consists of 4 quarterly mailings of three calendars each. The quarters begin with February, May, August, and November issues. Cost: $11.
http://www.pa.msu.edu/abrams/SkyCalendar/Index.html

The Moon is Full overnight Sept. 18-19, rising not long before sunset on the 18th. For the next several evenings, the waning “Harvest Moon” comes up not much later each night, still rising before 9 p.m. on Sept. 22.

Students can follow the waning Moon in the morning sky daily an hour before sunrise from Sept. 19 through Oct. 3, watching it pass, in turn, Aldebaran, Betelgeuse, Jupiter, Pollux and Procyon, Mars, and Regulus. See September’s morning twilight sky map.

Source: Abrams Planetarium A 1-year subscription to the Abrams Sky Calendar consists of 4 quarterly mailings of three calendars each. The quarters begin with February, May, August, and November issues. Cost: $11. http://www.pa.msu.edu/abrams/SkyCalendar/Index.html

Source: Abrams Planetarium
A 1-year subscription to the Abrams Sky Calendar consists of 4 quarterly mailings of three calendars each. The quarters begin with February, May, August, and November issues. Cost: $11.
http://www.pa.msu.edu/abrams/SkyCalendar/Index.html

Daytime Moonwatch: Teachers may want to bring their students outdoors daily Sept. 23-Oct. 2 to follow the Moon as it changes from 82 percent full on Sept. 23, through 46 percent on Sept. 27 (just after passing Last Quarter phase, when it’s 90 degrees from Sun), to a thin 6 percent crescent on Oct. 2, just 28° from the Sun. Best time for this project is when students are in the playground just before classes start, or right at the start of classes, as late as 9 a.m. This activity can be repeated during Oct. 21-Nov. 1.

Whenever a planet passes near a star or another planet, the event will be great fun to track nightly for a week before and after the night they’re closest. Evening pairs coming soon include Venus-Spica on Sept. 5, Venus-Saturn 3.5° apart on Sept. 17 and 18, and Venus-Antares 1.5° apart on Oct. 16. Antares is the heart of Scorpius, the Scorpion. Our evening twilight chart for September helps pick out Venus, Saturn, and the brightest stars as they appear about 40 minutes after sunset.

Now in the morning sky, bright Jupiter is a slow-moving planet, taking 12 years to make one circuit around the belt of zodiac constellation. During the 2013-2014 school year, note the changing shape of the triangle Jupiter makes with the Gemini twin stars of Pollux and Castor. During Labor Day week, these twin stars appear 11°-12° lower left of Jupiter, while Mars appears some 20° more steeply lower left of Jupiter. On the weekend of Sept. 7-9, Mars passes through the Beehive Cluster of faint stars, an event best seen with binoculars. In a colorful, very pretty pairing on the morning of Oct. 15, reddish Mars will pass within 1.0 degree of the blue-white 1.4-magnitude star Regulus, heart of Leo, the Lion.

Oct1-2 Oct6-7

Source: Abrams Planetarium A 1-year subscription to the Abrams Sky Calendar consists of 4 quarterly mailings of three calendars each. The quarters begin with February, May, August, and November issues. Cost: $11. http://www.pa.msu.edu/abrams/SkyCalendar/Index.html

Source: Abrams Planetarium
A 1-year subscription to the Abrams Sky Calendar consists of 4 quarterly mailings of three calendars each. The quarters begin with February, May, August, and November issues. Cost: $11.
http://www.pa.msu.edu/abrams/SkyCalendar/Index.html

Planetary Highlights of School Year 2013-2014

Venus appears at “greatest elongation”, farthest from Sun in our sky, 47° both times, on 2013 Oct. 31 in the afternoon and evening sky, and 2014 March 22 in the morning. Through a telescope near those dates, Venus appears as a tiny “half moon.” About midway between those dates, on 2014 Jan. 11, Venus passes nearly between Earth and Sun, and appears as a large, very thin crescent. Five weeks before and after this “inferior conjunction”, Venus reaches “greatest illuminated extent,” taking up the greatest apparent area in our sky, and appears near its greatest brilliancy at about –4.9, and shows through binoculars as a crescent about 25 percent illuminated. The 20 weeks from end of October to late March will be an exciting time to follow Venus as the backlit planet swings close to Earth and displays all its crescent phases, in the daytime as well as at dusk or dawn.

Jupiter is at its brightest (mag. –2.7) and is visible all night in early January 2014 as Earth overtakes it on Jan. 5. For nearly six months after this “opposition” of Jupiter, until early July 2014, Jupiter will remain visible in the evening sky.

Mars is at its biennial closest approach (57 million miles this time) and brightest (mag. –1.5, about as bright as Sirius), as Earth overtakes it in April, creating another opposition, on Apr. 8. A total lunar eclipse on the night of April 14-15 will feature the 1.0-magnitude star Spica and brilliant Mars nearby.

Saturn is at its closest and brightest (mag. +0.1) and visible all night in early May 2014, as Earth overtakes it on May 10, creating the third opposition of an outer planet in just over four months.

Mercury becomes visible low in the WNW early evening sky in early May. From then until early June, there are four bright planets simultaneously visible at dusk. In order from east to west, they are Saturn, Mars, Jupiter, and Mercury.

Robert C. Victor was Staff Astronomer at Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University. He is now retired and enjoys providing skywatching opportunities for school children in and around Palm Springs.

Robert D. Miller, who provided the twilight charts, did graduate work in Planetarium Science and later astronomy and computer science at Michigan State University and remains active in research and public outreach in astronomy.

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Written by Robert Victor

Robert Victor

Robert C. Victor was Staff Astronomer at Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University. He is now retired and enjoys providing skywatching opportunities for school children in and around Palm Springs, CA. Robert is a member of CSTA.

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California Science Test Academy for Educators

Posted: Thursday, February 15th, 2018

California Science Test Academy for Educators

To support implementation of the California Science Test (CAST), the California Department of Education is partnering with Educational Testing Service and WestEd to offer a one-day CAST Academy for local educational agency (LEA) science educators, to be presented at three locations in California from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. As an alternative to traveling, LEA teams can participate virtually via WebEx on one of the dates listed below.

The dates and locations for the CAST Academy are as follows:

  • Monday, April 23, 2018—Sacramento
  • Wednesday, April 25, 2018—Fresno
  • Thursday, April 26, 2018—Irvine

The CAST Academy will help participants develop a deeper understanding of the assessment design and expectations of the CAST. The academy also will provide information and activities designed to assist educators in their implementation of the California Next Generation Science Standards and three-dimensional learning to help them gain an understanding of how these new science assessment item types can inform teaching and learning. The CAST Academy dates above are intended for school and district science instructional leaders, including teacher leaders, teacher trainers, and instructional coaches. Additional trainings will be offered at a later date specifically for county staff. In addition, curriculum, professional development, and assessment leaders would benefit from this training.

A $100 registration fee will be charged for each person attending the in-person training. Each virtual team participating via WebEx will be charged $100 for up to 10 participants through one access point. Each workshop will have the capacity to accommodate a maximum of 50 virtual teams. Each virtual team will need to designate a lead, who is responsible for organizing the group locally. Registration and payment must be completed online at http://www.cvent.com/d/6tqg8k.

For more information regarding the CAST Academy, please contact Elizabeth Dilke, Program Coordinator, Educational Testing Service, by phone at 916-403-2407 or by e‑mail at caasppworkshops@ets.org.

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Accelerating into NGSS – A Statewide Rollout Series Now Accepting Registrations

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

Are you feeling behind on the implementation of NGSS? Then Accelerating into NGSS – the Statewide Rollout event – is right for you!

WHO SHOULD ATTEND
If you have not experienced Phases 1-4 of the Statewide Rollout, or are feeling behind with the implementation of NGSS, the Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout will provide you with the greatest hits from Phases 1-4!

OVERVIEW
Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout is a two-day training geared toward grade K-12 academic coaches, administrators, curriculum leads, and teacher leaders. Check-in for the two-day rollout begins at 7:30 a.m., followed by a continental breakfast. Sessions run from 8:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. on Day One and from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Day Two.

Cost of training is $250 per attendee. Fee includes all materials, continental breakfast, and lunch on both days. It is recommended that districts send teams of four to six, which include at least one administrator. Payment can be made by check or credit card. If paying by check, registration is NOT complete until payment has been received. All payments must be received prior to the Rollout location date you are attending. Paying by credit card secures your seat at time of registration. No purchase orders accepted. No participant cancellation refunds.

For questions or more information, please contact Amy Kennedy at akennedy@sjcoe.net or (209) 468-9027.

REGISTER

http://bit.ly/ACCELERATINGINTONGSS

DATES & LOCATIONS
MARCH 28-29, 2018
Host: San Mateo County Office of Education
Location: San Mateo County Office of Education, Redwood City

APRIL 10-11, 2018
Host: Orange County Office of Education
Location: Brandman University, Irvine

MAY 1-2, 2018
Host: Tulare County Office of Education
Location: Tulare County Office of Education, Visalia

MAY 3-4, 2018
Host: San Bernardino Superintendent of Schools
Location: West End Educational Service Center, Rancho Cucamonga

MAY 7-8, 2018
Host: Sacramento County Office of Education
Location: Sacramento County Office of Education Conference Center and David P. Meaney Education Center, Mather

JUNE 14-15, 2018
Host: Imperial County Office of Education
Location: Imperial Valley College, Imperial

Presented by the California Department of Education, California County Superintendents Educational Services Association/County Offices of Education, K-12 Alliance @WestEd, California Science Project, and the California Science Teachers Association.

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

The Teaching and Learning Collaborative, Reflections from an Administrator

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

by Kelly Patchen

My name is Mrs. Kelly Patchen, and I am proud to be an elementary assistant principal working in the Tracy Unified School District (TUSD) at Louis Bohn and McKinley Elementary Schools. Each of the schools I support are Title I K-5 schools with about 450 students, a diverse student population, a high percentage of English Language Learners, and students living in poverty. We’re also lucky to be part of the CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative with the K-12 Alliance. Learn More…

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Written by NGSS Early Implementer

NGSS Early Implementer

In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the California NGSS k-8 Early Implementation Initiative. This article was written by an educator(s) participating in the initiative. CSTA thanks them for their contributions and for sharing their experience with the science teaching community.

2018 CSTA Conference Call for Proposals

Posted: Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

CSTA is pleased to announce that we are now accepting proposals for 90-minute workshops and three- and six-hour short courses for the 2018 California Science Education Conference. Workshops and short courses make up the bulk of the content and professional learning opportunities available at the conference. In recognition of their contribution, members who present a workshop or short course receive 50% off of their registration fees. Click for more information regarding proposals, or submit one today by following the links below.

Short Course Proposal

Workshop Proposal Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

CSTA’s New Administrator Facebook Group Page

Posted: Monday, January 15th, 2018

by Holly Steele

The California Science Teachers Association’s mission is to promote high-quality science education, and one of the best practice’s we use to fulfill that mission is through the use of our Facebook group pages. CSTA hosts several closed and moderated Facebook group pages for specific grade levels, (Elementary, Middle, and High School), pages for district coaches and science education faculty, and the official CSTA Facebook page. These pages serve as an online resource for teachers and coaches to exchange teaching methods, materials, staying update on science events in California and asking questions. CSTA is happy to announce the creation of a 6th group page called, California Administrators Supporting Science. Learn More…

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.