Author Archives: allyworthington

Junk in space: how do we deal with it?

Junk floating through space, affectionately known as space junk, is dangerous to spacecraft and satellites, for obvious reasons. A team in Australia wants to use laser technology to track and destroy it. Adaptive optics is the technology that helps telescopes see stars without a twinkle, attributed to the Earth’s atmosphere. Adaptive optics sharpens images of … Continue reading Junk in space: how do we deal with it? Continue reading

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Extraterrestrial Existence

Shouldn’t Earth have been visited by extraterrestrials already? Enrico Fermi, a physicist from Italy, asked the same question in 1950 and sparked a wonderful conversation in the field of astronomy and astrobiology. In 1975, Michael Hart published “An Explanation for the Absence of Extraterrestrials on Earth,” noting that the lack of intelligent life from the … Continue reading Extraterrestrial Existence Continue reading

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What do astronauts eat?

You may have seen advertisements for “astronaut ice cream” in novelty food stores. This freeze-dried version of ice cream is just one example of what astronauts can eat during space missions in weightless environments. It probably comes as no surprise that astronauts have to consume a balanced diet with proper nutrition. Categories of space food, … Continue reading What do astronauts eat? Continue reading

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Scenes from Hubble: Saturn’s Seasons

Images from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope show changing seasons on the gas giant, Saturn. Saturn has a slower orbit than Earth (29 years to orbit the sun!), which makes each “season” on the planet over 7 years long. Similar to Earth, Saturn is tilted on an axis, which affects the intensity of sunlight on sides … Continue reading Scenes from Hubble: Saturn’s Seasons Continue reading

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Death in Space

It is no secret that space travel is a risky and dangerous endeavor for all involved. As of 2021, 19 astronauts (including cosmonauts) have died in in-flight accidents. Only one accident, however, occurred in space—over 100 kilometers above the Earth.  Three Soviets (called cosmonauts) were aboard the Soyuz 11 in June of 1971, which was … Continue reading Death in Space Continue reading

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Newton and His Laws

Isaac Newton is a household name for his invention of calculus, laws of motion, and realization that gravity exists in the heavens (contrary to Aristotle’s beliefs!). College students that have studied introductory physics or math may have been exposed to Newton’s three laws of motion, but how exactly are they relevant in the context of … Continue reading Newton and His Laws Continue reading

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Historical Astronomers in Context

Johannes Kepler was born on December 27th, 1571 and died on November 15th, 1630. After influential astronomer Tycho Brahe passed away, his unfinished work and data was given to Kepler to continue. With this data, Kepler discovered that Mars’ orbit is an ellipse, publishing Astronomia Nova in 1609 (now known as Kepler’s first two laws). Later in … Continue reading Historical Astronomers in Context Continue reading

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The Discovery of the Speed of Light

While Aristotle believed that light could travel instantaneously, the first experimental attempt to measure the speed of light came from Galileo Galilei in 1667. He placed two people with covered lights on the top of hills that were about a mile apart. The first person was instructed to uncover his light, and when the second … Continue reading The Discovery of the Speed of Light Continue reading

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This is me!

My name is Ally Worthington and I’m a junior at Vanderbilt studying math and economics. I am a competitive horseback rider (see above!) and I love cooking. My favorite dish to make is this pasta. I am looking forward to learning more astronomy through this course. Continue reading

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