Astronomy Activity #2: Movements of Grandfather Sun

In Anishinaabe teachings, Sun is referred to as our Mishomis, or Grandfather. Sun is also known as giizis in Anishinaabemowin. As Earth is continually rotating around him, Grandfather Sun brings forward the morning to give light and warmth to all of creation. The Sun, Moon and Earth work together to provide the gift of life. These three entities relate to each other in familial ways jointly governing systems on our planet. 

By viewing a sunrise or sunset, it may seem like the Sun moves around us, but it is actually the opposite! Earth is revolving around the Sun on a tilted axis. By spinning on a tilt, this causes areas of Earth to experience different levels of sunlight throughout the year. Where we are in the Northern Hemisphere, this means we experience more hours of sunlight in summer and fewer in winter. 

When Grandfather Sun is shining on Earth it has time to warm up. Once the Sun has set, Earth  has time to cool down again. One reason we experience hotter days in the summer is because of the Earth’s prolonged exposures to the Sun. A great way to learn about  the movement of Grandfather Sun is to observe the shadows created!

Tracing Grandfather Sun’s Shadows


Paper, object, writing utensil 

1.Find a window in your house that is exposed to direct sunlight. 

2. Position a toy or object on a surface near the window, such as a table or counter. 

3. Place a piece of paper on the opposite side of this object in relation to the sun, so that you can capture the shadow with your paper. 

4. Trace the shadow of the object and record the time of when it was traced.

5.  Leave your object and paper there and every hour or so, check on the piece of paper and see if the shadow has moved. If it has, trace the new shadow and record the time. 

What direction does the shadow move? How does this connect to the Earth’s movements around the Sun? 

If you are interested in downloading these graphics, here is link to the PDF file!

Giizhigoong Activity Series Sun.pdf

The Giizhigoong program is supported through a memorial fund set up by the family of Adam Evans. We are proud to support the legacy of science education in the field of Astronomy made possible through this funding. Miigwech!