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Click here to go to the next Class Site (Unit 4 The Geosphere): www.thegeosphere.pbwiki.com 

Click here to go to the last Class Site (Unit 2 Astronomy) : www.astronomyuniverse.pbwiki.com





Unit 3:  Earth as a Planet





Questions to be answered in this unit:

1.    How do the planetary motions of the Earth and its satellite (the moon) impact life on earth?

2.    What is the Earth made out of?

3.    What causes the seasons and the phases of the moon?



What should I understand by the end of this unit?

      1.    The relative position and movements of the earth, moon, and sun account for lunar and solar eclipses, the observed moon phases, tides, and seasons.

     2.    Earth consists of an Atmosphere, a Hydrosphere, a Geosphere, and a Biosphere

     4.  Earth has seasons because it is tilted on its axis.

     5.  Earth's tilt causes the angle of incidence (angle at which sunlight hits earth) and insolation (a measure of solar energy received on a given surface area in a given time) to change throughout the year.

     6.  The distance between the earth and sun (perihelion, aphelion) doesn't change much and does not have an impact on the seasons.

     7.  The moon orbits the earth at an angle and reflects light from the sun.





NASA Earth Observatory Photo of the Day




Classwork, Projects and other Reference Materials:


Unit Pre Test



Standing on the Moon project, a classic Grateful Dead tune AND an ESS project!


Online Resources for this Project:







What Causes the Seasons?










  • Daylight Hours Explorer: how many hours of daylight any day of the year based on latitude (enter latitude 44.24 degrees N for Harwood Union HS)
  • Milankovitch Cycles:  World War 1 Prisoner of War Milutin Milankovitch discovers a link between the advance and retreat of the polar ice caps and the motion of the Earth in space


Phases of the Moon:



*: the image in slide 8 should read "Waning Gibbous"



What does a full synodic month look like in one second?  Click here to find out 






What is an Eclipse?



             (Make sure you click on "Tell Me More" to see more visuals)
  • Student Webquest links:

                               Solar Eclipse: Mr. Eclipse



                               Lunar Eclipse: Mr. Eclipse






What causes the tides?  How is the moon related to tidal action?


Tides at Monterey Bay Virtual Lab





  • Link to a website describing the Bay of Fundy, home to the greatest tidal variation in the world.



Time Zones:





World Time Zone Calculator.pdf





What is and why do we have Daylight Savings Time?
What is precession?  How is Earth like a rotating toy top?  How long until the North Star is no longer the North Star?


Mapping the Earth


An overview of topographic maps







Earth the Big Picture assignment.doc

Earth and Our Lives.doc



Design a Planet Web Activity



Time Zones Assignment: Planning a Vacation


Ask an Astronomer, answers to tons of curious questions students may have about pretty much anything in the universe!


Bad Astronomy an excellent link that debunks myths and proves misconceptions wrong!


Earth-Moon Viewer, this allows you to view images of the Earth from a number of perspectives (including from the moon and from the sun) and to view the moon from Earth or from the Sun.


Current Lunar Phase, gives the lunar phase for any date from 1800 to 2199 AD. Use for checking student predictions of phase on any given day.
When is the next Solar or Lunar Eclipse? NASA's Eclipse Home Page





  • International Date Line

  • Geosynchronous orbit 
  • Polar orbit 
  • Perigee
  • Apogee
  • Waxing
  • Waning
  • New Moon
  • Full Moon
  • First Quarter
  • Third Quarter
  • Gibbous
  • Crescent
  • Synodic Month (Period)
  • The Ecliptic Plane
  • Lunar Libration
  • Basic Understanding of Space Exploration 
  • Daylight savings time 
  • Seasons
  • Angle of Incidence
  • Insolation
  • Equinox (vernal and autumnal) 
  • Solstice (summer and winter
  • Precession
  • Time zones 
  • Perihelion
  • Aphelion
  • Rotation
  • Revolution (orbit)
  • Ellipse
  • North Pole
  • South Pole
  • Arctic Circle
  • Antarctic Circle
  • Tropic of Cancer
  • Tropic of Capricorn
  • Equator
  • Magnetosphere
  • Crust 
  • Mantle
  • Core 
  • Moho 
  • Axis
  • Seismic waves
  • Eclipse
  • Earth’s spheres (Bio-, Geo-, Atmos-, Hydro-)
  • Apparent (Relative) Motion
  • Real Motion
  • Spring Tides
  • Neap Tides
  • Flood Tide
  • Ebb Tide
  • Tidal Bulge
  • Gravity
  • Centrifugal Force
  • Lunar Eclipse
  • Solar Eclipse
  • Annular Eclipse
  • Umbra
  • Penumbra







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