Notes of Lessons: Physical Science, Class IV

Notes of Lessons: Physical Science, Class IV

[We have thought that it might be of use to our readers (in their own families) to publish from month to month during the current year, Notes of Lessons prepared by students of the House of Education for the pupils of the Practising School. We should like to say, however, that such a Lesson is never given as a tour de force, but is always an illustration or an expansion of some part of the children’s regular studies (in the Parents’ Review School), some passage in one or other of their school books.—Ed.]

Subject: Astronomy • Group: Science • Class IV • Age: 16 1/2 • Time: 30 minutes

By Agnes C. Drury
The Parents’ Review, 1903, pp. 56-57


I. To interest the pupils in studying the heavens for themselves.

II. To show where the planets may be looked for and how they may be recognized.

III. To help the pupils to apply their theoretical knowledge of the planets to explain the movements they can observe with the naked eye.

IV. To exercise the reasoning powers.


Step I.—Get the pupils to describe the changes to be seen in the sky at night, and, excluding the apparent motion caused by the earth’s rotation, find out whether they have noticed and contrasted the constellations of fixed stars and the planets (wanderers).

Let the pupils tell which of the planets are visible to the naked eye, and ask whether they have noticed when and where are to be seen, at the present date, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars, which are in Capricornus, Sagittarius and Leo, respectively.

Step II.—Draw from the pupils, if possible, the marks by which planets can be distinguished from stars;—

(a) Their steady light.

(b) Size (in the case of Venus and Jupiter).

(c) Colour (in the case of Mars).

(d) Position (relatively to known constellations).

(e) Motion (noticeable after successive observations).

Step III.—To enlarge on Point (d), let the pupils name the planets whose orbits are within that of the earth and those whose orbits are outside ours. By the help of a diagram of the solar system, get them to infer, from the nearness to the sun of Venus and Mercury, that these planets are never visible at midnight, but only just before sunrise and after sunset.

Step IV.—To appreciate Points (d) and (e), get the pupils to recognize the advantage of knowing the constellations by sight. Show Philip’s Planisphere, and refer to the Zodiac, showing that, besides being the sun’s apparent path, this is the region in which to seek the planets.

Let the pupils find the portion of the heavens visible at 6 p.m. to-day, and indicate, both in the heavens and with respect to our landscape, the positions of Jupiter and Saturn. Also show how Mars may be looked for in the south, too, about 6 o’clock in the morning.

Step V.—To enlarge on Point (e), show a diagram of the path of Venus among the constellations in 1868 (Lockyer’s Elementary Lessons in Astronomy, p.183), and get the pupils to notice how large a distance she travelled in one month, in order to induce them tomake personal observations. Prepare them to see the planets sometimes move backwards and sometimes remain stationary. Explain this by letting one of the girls move round the table while the other watches how, with respect to her background, she appears to move first from left to right, then to remain stationary, then to move from right to left, and again to remain stationary. The moving girl, observing the other with respect to her background, notices the same phenomena.

Then show the diagram in Lockyer, which illustrates these facts, p. 178, and also another in Reid’s Elements of Astronomy, p. 137, which shows the apparent motion of one planet viewed from another in motion.