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So, what is the ecliptic? Well, it has to do with the Zodiac constellations and our sun and how they move in relation to one another. It's kind of cool! In this episode, Sabrina chats about this imaginary line called the ecliptic and its cycle in the sky.

///Standards Used in This Video///
5-ESS1-2. Represent data in graphical displays to reveal patterns of daily changes in length and direction of shadows, day and night, and the seasonal appearance of some stars in the night sky. [Clarification Statement: Examples of patterns could include the position and motion of Earth with respect to the sun and selected stars that are visible only in particular months.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include causes of seasons.]

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Producer & Editor: Nicholas Jenkins
Cinematographer & Director: Michael Aranda
Host: Sabrina Cruz
Script Supervisor: Mickie Halpern
Writer: Kay Boatner
Executive Producers: John & Hank Green
Consultant: Shelby Alinsky
Script Editor: Blake de Pastino

Thought Cafe Team:
Stephanie Bailis
Cody Brown
Suzanna Brusikiewicz
Jonathan Corbiere
Nick Counter
Kelsey Heinrichs
Jack Kenedy
Corey MacDonald
Tyler Sammy
Nikkie Stinchcombe
James Tuer
Adam Winnik
Hello, fellow stargazers. Welcome back to another episode of "Tiny Sabrina in Space", also known as "Crash Course Kids".

I've still got my eye on the sky, particularly those 13 constellations in the zodiac that we learned about earlier. We found out that the zodiac constellations follow a circular path around our planet. Today, we're going to learn more about where our sun follows this path. I'll give you a hint: it involves something called the Ecliptic. Intriguing! So what is the Ecliptic? 

[Text: Big Question]

Before we head into imaginary space to find out, it's time for a quick, well, crash course on astronomy. You know what a constellation is - a cluster of stars in the sky that are grouped together in a particular pattern and have been given a name. Some of the constellation we've visited so far include Hercules, Pegasus, and Draco. And last time we met a group of constellations that form something called the zodiac. 13 constellations that have been studied and tracked since ancient times. The constellations in the zodiac are all highly visible from Earth during different months of the year, starting with Sagittarius in January, and ending with Ophiuchus. And last time, we saw how these constellations form a sort of belt-like shape around the Earth. Well this time, we're going to see what the sun's up to while the constellations take turns popping up in our night sky. 

[Text: Investigation]

Okay, so there's Earth in the middle of space. Looking good home planet! And here are the zodiac constellations that surround Earth, but we've got to make room for another major player in space. You remember the sun, of course. Earth, scooch over. sun, head to center stage, you're on. Okay, you already know that Earth rotates on its axis, making a complete turn in one day. While it's rotating it also revolves around the sun, making one full trip around the star every year. This movement of the Earth also makes it seem as if the sun is moving through the stars over the course of the year. This is because during any given month, the sun sits between the Earth and a different zodiac constellation.

But we know the sun's not really moving, it's the Earth's movement that makes it seem that way, and astronomers have come up with a nifty way to track the sun's apparent path through space. They draw an imaginary line from the Earth through the sun and toward the stars beyond it. As the Earth moves, so does this line with it while the sun stays steady in the middle. As Earth follows its orbit around the sun, this imaginary line spins pointing to different stars throughout a complete trip around the sun, forming an imaginary circle. Astronomers call this imaginary line that the zodiac sits on, and that tracks the sun's apparent path through space the Ecliptic. Eventually, over a year the Earth will return to Sagittarius where it started and the cycle, or pattern, will start all over again. 

[Text: Conclusion]

So, that's what the sun's doing as one zodiac constellation in the night sky moves to the next. Not a whole lot. It remains in the same spot while Earth makes its annual journey. And now you know that even though the sun's not really moving, the path it appears to take and the path that the zodiac sits upon is what astronomers call the Ecliptic. No one ever said understanding what happens in space would be easy, but isn't it fun to try?