AAA Winter Astronomy Class: Clocks, Calendars, Coordinates, Orbits – November-December 2016


This is an introductory course on several specialty topics. The unifying theme is the astronomical foundations for specifying time and place.  We’ll explore establishing clocks and calendars, designating positions in the sky and space, and defining orbits.

Wednesday, Nov 9 – Defining Time
Solar and sidereal days, exact second, leap seconds, time zones, sundials, the analema and equation of time

Wednesday, Nov 16 –

Solar and lunar calendars. roots of Gregorian calendar, Julian dates. Leap years, leap days,leap months, Jewish, Muslim, Chinese, Mayan, and other calendars.

Unique aspects of moon’s orbit
Tidal locking, libration, standstills, precession of axis, nutation, precession of nodes.

Wednesday, Nov 30 – Celestial coordinates (part A)
Wednesday, Dec 7 –  Celestial coordinates (part B)
Altitude/azimuth, declination and right ascension, effects of precession, practice in reading RA/DEC from star chart, types of star maps and coordinate systems, common aspects of all coordinate systems.

Wednesday, Dec 14 – Mapping the sky
Constellations and asterisms, Rey drawings, zodiac, star designations: proper names, Bayer, Flamsteed, RA/DEC. Star catalogs, Messier objects, Messier marathons.

Wednesday, Dec. 21- Orbital parameters
The 6 math elements of all orbits plus 7th element of exact epoch (universal time), deriving ALT/AZI and RA/DEC values, determining and publishing orbital parameters, one point orbit determination from X, Y, Z position and velocity components.


Time:  classes start at 6:30 PM and go until 8:30 PM.

Location: all classes are held at Cicatelli Center, 505 8th Ave, at 35th St. in Manhattan on the 20th Floor (except Nov 9 and Dec 14, which will be held on the 19th floor).

Instructor: David Kiefer
David Kiefer holds various Masters degrees, including a M.S. in astronomy from the Center for Astrophysics and Supercomputing in Melbourne, Australia.  He has taught physics and astronomy at colleges in New York and New Jersey,  and is presently a lecturer at City College and at the Borough of Manhattan Community College in New York.  A member of the AAA, Mr. Kiefer observes regularly at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn.