Astronomy 101: Lesson One & Two @ Hogwarts

So I’m really behind in actually doing “classwork” for Hogwarts. It’s really time consuming like… well like real school.  While I’m “enrolled” in all seven courses I was like ack, I’m going to have to just choose one to focus on.  So right now, I chose Astronomy because it’s cool.

The lesson homework includes writing these cute little Essays (and a quiz or two).  I kind of had fun with it so maybe I’ll get more into doing these lessons as they come rather than in bulk and actually catch up with all of these classes… cause ya know I clearly have no life.  *hangs head in shame*

Since I’ve already admitted it on the Internet, which makes it totally true legit and real – I thought I would share and document for no reason whatsoever.

If you are interested feel free to…

Astronomy Lesson 1

Essay: My favourite constellation!

Title: My favourite constellation!

Instructions: This week, you are going to be telling me about your favourite constellation! This essay needs to have three paragraphs, detailed below, and should be roughly 200 words. You need to add a picture into your assignment of your chosen constellation, and you must proofread what you have written. Spelling, punctuation and grammar makes up 10% of your grade.

Paragraph 1: Give me the name of your chosen constellation, why you have chosen it, and a few facts about it. This should be the shortest of the three paragraphs.

Paragraph 2: Find one creation myth behind your chosen constellation! Each constellation has at least one creation myth (the story detailing how it was named/was formed), so please find this, and rewrite it in your own words, as if I had not heard it before. This should be your middle-size paragraph.

Paragraph 3: This is where you get to be creative! Now that you have found the creation myth behind your constellation, I want you to write your own constellation myth for your chosen constellation! This should be a piece of creative writing, and should be the longest part of your essay.

Further information

Each constellation has a myth behind its creation. You need to find this myth and tell me about it in your essay. You must then be creative and write a new, original myth detailing its creation. It can be as fake as you like – as long as you cover any important points, such as name, age, god.

• You can only take this assignment once.
• This assignment has no due date. Submit at your earliest convenience.


Here is my actual assignment:

My Favorite Constellation is Ursa Minor, also known as the little dipper. I have always been drawn to Ursa Minor because I have a series of moles on my leg that, as a child, I would play “connect the dots” on and discovered it looked a lot like the little dipper. I also had a special connection to the Ursa Minor constellation because it is often depicted as the little bear and bears are one of my favorite animals. Ursa Minor is the 56th constellation in size and contains one of the brightest stars and most significant stars in the sky, the North Star (or Polaris). This constellation belongs to the Ursa Major family of constellations, which includes such constellations as Draco, Leo, Lync, Corona Borealis and Ursa Major. Ursa Minor is a really interesting constellation with a historical and astrological connections.

There are actually three different myths associated with Ursa Major. One includes the seven stars of the little dipper representing the Hesperides who are the seven daughters of Atlas. The other two myths represent two different nymphs. My favorite of the stories in the one where the constellation represents Arcas, the son of Zeus and Callisto the nymph. Callisto had sworn a vow of chastity to Artemis until Zeus made advances to her. She was unable to resist the king of all Gods and the two of them ended up creating a child, Arcas. When Hera, Zeus’ wife, found out about the affair and child, she turned Callisto into a bear. For 15 years she wandered around the forest as a bear trying to avoid being killed by hunters until she came face to face with her son. Her son, not knowing that this bear was his mother, was ready to kill her.  Fortunately, Zeus was able to intervene before something terrible happened and he sent a whirlwind down to gather the mother and son and bring them to heaven. It was then that they became mother, Ursa Major, and son, Ursa Minor. Both of the constellations are represented by the bear and in some ways, this story represents the troubles that Arcas, Callisto, and Zeus all had to bear because of their betrayals and indiscretions.

There is an unknown fourth myth as to how Callisto and her son Arcas were thrust up into the sky as mother and son, big and little, major and minor bear. Callisto was one of the most beautiful nymphs and though she had sworn a vow of chastity, Zeus could not resist her.  After an affair with Zeus, Callisto gave birth to a beautiful son named Arcas.  Arcas loved to hunt and would wander around in the woods dreaming of hunting and killing all sorts of animals. Artemis, who never forgave Callisto for destroying her virginity with Zeus, always kept a watchful and slightly vengeful eye on little Arcas.  As he grew older, he became wasteful and often destroyed nature and animals in it just for his own joy and pleasure.  Finally, Artemis had a reason to enact her revenge and knew exactly how to do it. She turned Arcas into a bear. The plan was to teach Arcas a lesson that, though a goddess of the hunt herself, some animals were sacred and that you can’t go around doing whatever you want without consequence. Once Callisto found out her son had been turned into a bear, she was fearful for his life and begged Artemis to turn her son back into a boy again. Artemis refused telling Callisto that she, like her son, could not go around doing whatever they wanted without consequence and that if she could find a way to take back the mistake she had made when she slept with Zeus, then and only then would she have her son back. For weeks Callisto tried to figure out how to make up for her past but she realized that, while she knew that she should not have had the affair, her beautiful son was born because of her affair and she would never want to undo what was done. She finally approached Artemis and told her “Give me back my child. My will is as strong as yours and I have forgiven myself. I have no desire to undo what has been done and you have no power to destroy it.  Please give me back my child”.  Artemis smiled and said “You want your child back and yet you do not want to undo what has been done.  Your will is strong, but my will is stronger.  Go, be with your son” and with that Callisto was transformed into a bear.  She glanced back and saw Artemis draw her bow ready to strike and she ran. After running for what felt like miles she found her son, sleeping under a tree still a bear himself.  He awoke when they heard a sound behind them and saw the arrow coming toward his mother.  Arcas lunged to cover his mother and protect her from the arrow giving his own life for hers.  However, inches before the arrow struck the young boy, Zeus started a twister in the wind and blew the arrow and Artemis out of the forest.  He tried as hard as he could to turn the mother and son back into their former selves but Artemis had protected the curse so that no one would be able to undo it without her forgiveness and she refused to forgive. Zeus could not stand to see his son at risk of death with his mother and so to protect them, he sent them to the sky to live forever in a safe location. The mother bear and her son. While they may have suffered due to her mother’s indiscretions, Zeus knew that their story could serve others and act as a guide.  This is why Arcas, Ursa Minor, holds the light of the North Star.

I love the idea that Ursa Major and Ursa Minor were mother and son and were thrust up into the sky forever with the light of the North Star as a guide and would keep this in my own mythological story.   The stars of Ursa Minor may not always be as bright as some of the other stars in the sky but Ursa Major will always be connected and the light of the North Star will always be there to anyone who looks up and needs a little guidance A little dipper, a little bear, a little bright light, Ursa Minor is a little something special.


Astronomy Lesson 2

Essay: A Room With A View

For this essay, you will need to describe the appearance of Mercury for me, as if you are looking at it from the top of the Astronomy Tower, using a telescope. You must factor in the weather conditions, and the time you are looking. I expect at least 200 words for this, as well as detailed description. Anyone who fails to fulfil the criteria will receive 0% on this assignment. If you are using a picture from the Muggle interweb-y thing, please give me the URL (if you can figure out how to do that!).

• You can only take this assignment once.
• This assignment has no due date. Submit at your earliest convenience.
Here is my assignment:

Crater Face! Sounds like something a third year might yell to a first year who got hit with a pimple jinx but it also is a fairly accurate depiction of Mercury.  It’s hard to find the right time to look at Mercury, even through a telescope because it is so close to the sun. I chose the dawn hours, because it’s a beautiful time of day to try and catch a glimpse of mercury as up close and personal as I could. The surface of Mercury is cratered in a similar fashion to Earth’s moon. The craters are the result of surface collisions with comets and meteoroids. You can kind of see at least one of the impact basins, created long ago in the history of the solar system by asteroids.

Mercury appears gray with white streaks, some flat terrain and some scarred cratered areas. The white streaks are “crater rays”.  Whenever an asteroid or comet strikes, a big hole is created and often the surface breaks into many small pieces creating streaks throughout the surface.  This is where the rays come from.  It’s similar to someone flying a little too fast on their broom, falling off and skidding across the grass during a Quidditch game.  It’s pretty interesting that we can see the impact of the asteroids that are hitting Mercury. If Mercury had a better atmosphere, it would be able to protect itself from the impacts.

Since its spring and I chose to view the planet at dawn, I had to fly over to the East of the Southern hemisphere. The simplest description of a telescope view of Mercury is a small gray disk.  It is so close to the sun and so small that it is really hard to see in all of its glory without a spell to make my vision much better than it already is. The sun is coming up and Mercury must be getting awful hot. If any living being does live on that planet, I bet that have a killer sun tan.

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