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Home/Curriculum resources/Stellar navigation and mathematics/Activity 3 - Estimating latitude by measuring the altitude of the South Celestial Pole



Year level:

Level 5

Suggested timing:

Student’s own time / homework

Tarantula Nebula

Activity 3 - Estimating latitude by measuring the altitude of the South Celestial Pole

This activity is a part of the Stellar navigation and mathematics resource.

Tarantula Nebula. Photographer: Peter Lieverdink. Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-SA 2.0

As a revision activity, students will be asked to use the knowledge and techniques they've developed to apply to their own burgeoning star-gazing practice.

Step by Step guide 

Students should use the tools they gained in class to find the South Celestial Pole (SCP) on their own at night. Aboriginal people travelled great distances across Australia for trade and ceremony. They would have noticed that the altitudes of constellations shifted as they moved to/from North/South. 

Related activities within this resources:

Scorpius featuring Mars and Saturn in the night sky

What is Stellarium?

Discover Stellarium, a digital planetarium that offers a vivid depiction of the night sky worldwide, showcasing the celestial dance of the Sun, Moon, planets, and stars in real-time.

Tarantula Nebula

Activity 1 - Measuring angles with your hands and fingers

Students will learn how to measure angular distances in degrees using their hands and fingers as makeshift protractors.

Suggested timing:

10-15 minutes

Required resources:

Clips of Moana, or a copy of the film

Tarantula Nebula

Activity 2 - Finding the South Celestial Pole using the Southern Cross

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People used a variety of techniques to find cardinal points. In this activity, students will learn how to find the South Celestial Pole using the Southern Cross, as Aboriginal people did in the past. It will require teachers to familiarise themselves with the Stellarium astronomy software program beforehand.

Suggested timing:

30-45 minutes

Tarantula Nebula

Activity 4 - Using the Sun to Find Cardinal Directions

In this activity, students can use a stick and the sun to find cardinal directions

Suggested timing:

30 mins to 1 hour

Required resources:

 A stick / stake

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