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Astronomy: Modeling the Sun's Apparent Path

Do you have a model to show kids how the sun moves through the sky? Can you adjust it for different latitudes to show the difference between each hemisphere as well as the equator? This activity gives a concrete way to demonstrate this. You can figure out these questions by hanging suns in your classroom to demonstrate its apparent path in the sky. Once they're up, the suns show why the sun is always in your southern sky (if you live in the north) or why the sun is only overhead if you live within the tropics. 


Questions Addressed

❑ When and where does the sun pass directly overhead? 

❑ How does the sun's path appear when viewed from the northern hemisphere? 

❑ How does the sun's path appear when viewed from the southern hemisphere?


Concepts Addressed

♦  The sun’s apparent position depends on your viewing location

♦  The Sun’s path (ecliptic) changes depending on viewing location


Standards Addressed

TEKS 6.11A



UK National Curriculum Key Stage 3

Phy: Matter: Space physics

• the seasons and the Earth’s tilt, day length at different times of year, in different hemispheres 


Materials Needed

string, tape, copies of sun pattern (included)


Answer Key

Extensive teacher notes address the many questions that come up. You shouldn’t have to do outside research on this topic unless you want to. 


Teaching Time 

This is a quick lab and takes about 20 minutes (more with writing assignments)


Preparation Required

Make copies of the suns and hang them from the ceiling as described.


Student Sheets

• Scaffolded writing prompts & lab reporting

Astronomy: Modeling the Sun's Apparent Path


    Answer Keys and Teacher Notes address most questions and issues that might arise in this study—you shouldn’t have to do any outside research unless you want to.

    Connect with me: If you have questions or problems, please let me know and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.


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