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GCSE Astronomy controlled assessment - B4 Constellation Photography

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´╗┐Francis Glynn-Matthews 9135 GCSE Astronomy Controlled Assessment: B4 ? Constellation Photography Design For my coursework I have chosen to attempt photography of three different constellations in the night sky. I will go out on three separate dates to take photos then select the best photographs to use for the analysis. I will then aim to identify colours and magnitudes of my photographed stars using comparisons with reference stars for which I have collected known magnitudes from official sources. Explanation of used Astronomical terms Constellation ? A group of stars seen from Earth as forming some sort of recognisable pattern in the sky. These are usually given names due to their resemblance to mythological creatures. Asterism ? a prominent pattern of stars in the sky; usually part of a bigger constellation. Reference star ? a star with a known magnitude used to compare against others to determine estimates for apparent magnitudes. Star chart ? a chart used to show the position of stars in the sky when viewed from a particular point on Earth at a particular time. Magnitude ? the brightness of a star. For each whole number above 0, the brightness of the star decreases by x2.5. Meaning the magnitude rating would be 1=2.5, 2=6.25, 3=16 etc. Colour ? the surface colour of a star which depends on its temperature and chemical composition. ...read more.


I have also checked for visibility levels using a weather forecast4. Date Moon phase Moon illumination Visibility Observation possibility Saturday 26th Waning crescent 9.8% Moderate No Sun 27th Waning crescent 4.0% Good/Very good Yes Monday 28th Waning crescent 0.7% Good Yes Tuesday 29th New moon 0.1% Good Yes Wednesday 1st Waxing crescent 5.9% Moderate No Thursday 2nd Waxing crescent 11.8% Moderate No Friday 3rd Waxing crescent 19.2% Good Yes After evaluating the data I have acquired, I have chosen to perform the observations on 27th,28th and 29th of April as these dates include or are near to when the Moon in new. These are also the dates where the Moon is least illuminated, which is ideal for observation as a highly illuminated moon could have adverse effects on my photography due to skyglow. Constellations This is a list of constellations I could potentially observe for my investigation, taken from the star chart: * Ursa Minor * Ursa Major * Cassiopeia * Auriga * Leo * Cepheus * Boötes After assessing all the possible constellations I can photograph, I have chosen three: Ursa Major I have chosen to observe this constellation mainly because of its asterism known as the Plough or ‘The big dipper’. This asterism is useful in locating other constellations or stars; Dubhe and Merak form a pointer towards Polaris (The North Star) ...read more.


Another method of improvement would be to use a better camera with better/more suited setting to clearly photograph the night sky. A better camera would have allowed me to experiment with a wider range of setting such as ISO, Aperture, shutter speed and exposure, thus allowing me to take optimum photographs of each of the constellations. Taking more photographs on a wider range of dates would have also given me a better chance of getting better photographs. The higher the amount of repeats the more accurate, precise and reliable your readings become. Instead of going out on three dates that were consecutive days, I could have gone out on days that were reasonably spread out which would give me a more accurate result through the calculation of an average. Many of the stars I observed were variable stars meaning their magnitude fluctuates due to either swelling or shrinking of the star or the eclipsing of its light due to it being locked in orbit with another star. Therefore, more readings and an average would have given me a more valid result. Despite the few inaccurate readings and possible improvements to my observation, I would say that the observation was a success and was designed/performed well with the resources I have available to me. ...read more.

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