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Sunday, November 12, 2017

How to integrate a Space Event into Your Math Class

Are you excited about the conjunction on Monday?

Venus is going to LOOK very close to Jupiter on Early Monday and it's all an illusion.

What is happening? 

"Early Monday morning (Nov. 13), bright Jupiter will pass an even brighter Venus in a low but close and spectacular conjunction." (

What to do I talk to my students about? 

What is an illusion? This event is an illusion of perspective. "The two planets are nowhere near each other; they just happen to line up when observed from our Earthly vantage point. Venus will be 152 million miles (246 million kilometers) from us, while Jupiter is nearly four times farther away, at 594 million miles (956 million km)." (
Write these numbers in scientific notation, expanded form, or simply subtract them on the white board of your classroom to give the students perspective of how FAR they really are, but they LOOK very close. This is a great illustration of an illusion.

Also talk to them about how often it occurs. "Interestingly, there is also a 24-year cycle for Venus-Jupiter conjunctions. Their sidereal revolution periods — "sidereal" referring to "with respect to the stars" — are 224.7008 days for Venus, 365.2564 days for Earth and 4332.5894 days for Jupiter. As it turns out, 39 revolutions of Venus are almost precisely equal to 24 revolutions of Earth and two revolutions for Jupiter. So after 24 years, the circumstances of a particular Venus-Jupiter conjunction will appear to repeat under almost identical conditions." (

Incorporating Science into Math

Getting students to make connections from science to math is key to helping build the importance of math as it relates to other areas in our students' world. Talking about how far apart objects are, the size and structure of planets, and the years it takes to get to some of these places we now know about. 

Some of the best ways to incorporate science into math are just strictly comparing the numbers. Seeing which ones are greater and which ones are less. This is a great way to analyze and compare planets. 
In the Solar Eclipse Project students compared the distances and sizes of the Sun, Moon, and Earth to create real world connections. Students also compared times that the Solar Eclipse was happening in different parts of the country. Time is also another great way to show students the difference between
Students shared their experience with other and recorded how they felt, what they saw, and other observations that made the experience unique. Just simply sharing your observations is one step of the scientific method that can also be applied in math. What do you observe about the numbers? What do you think about the degrees of separation?

If you want to learn more about the conjunction on Monday Click HERE to read more about the Math & Science.. When you connect the world around the students to them, you create a relationship that the students will remember. A last memory of how they are a part of the bigger universe and how the universe works. I hope you enjoy talking to your students and making Math connections about the conjunction this week.

Happy Teaching!