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Planetarium Activity

Set the date to July 1, 2006. Turn off the horizon and daylight displays. Using the “Settings” button, set the orientation to Equatorial. Open the Planet Palette and center the display on Mars. Be sure to notice the relationship between Mars and Sun. Center the display on the Sun and lock on the Sun. Find Mars again and click on it to display its name. Set the step size to 3 days and start the clock. Stop the clock when Mars passes the Sun and step back and forth until Mars and the Sun are in conjunction. Using the Selection Tool, point the arrow at Mars and record the date and the distance of Mars. Repeat for the next three conjunctions of Mars. Using your data, estimate the synodic period of Mars. How can you account for the different distances of Mars at the time of conjunction in terms of the shapes of the orbits of Mars and the Earth?

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