Author Archives: Owen Purcell

Could Aliens See Us?

One of the most inspiring ventures in the world of astronomy in the 21st century is the increasing discovery of exoplanets. They represent the most extensive effort to find life outside of Earth. So far, we have discovered thousands of planets surrounding other stars, but there is something of a selection bias. Astronomers use a […] Continue reading

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Brown Dwarfs

One of the most interesting bodies in the universe is the brown dwarf, a small world a few times the size of Jupiter. These are interesting because they do not fit cleanly into our definitions of stars and planets. They are technically under the category of star, but this is due in most part to […] Continue reading

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Kepler-452b

Kepler-452b is an exoplanet about 15 light-years away from us.  It is notable because it is the most Earth-like planet that has been discovered so far.  It is 60% larger than Earth, which is certainly significant, but it has an orbit that lasts 385 Earth-days, and it orbits only 5% further from its star than […] Continue reading

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Natural Ozone Formation

In the history of life on Earth, ozone has played an incredibly important role. For much of the early history of life, the atmosphere contained little oxygen, slowly being replaced by carbon dioxide through photosynthesis. It wasn’t until a critical mass of this CO2 was replaced that animal life could venture onto land. This is […] Continue reading

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The Banner of Heaven

This term, originally coined in the late nineteenth century, at least with its current connotation, began to speak to me in a unique way in high school. I took a backpacking trip in Northern California, and experienced a dry, warm, cloudless night with no shelter but a mosquito net. The sky was brilliant, and it felt like […] Continue reading

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Historical Astronomers in Context

Historical Figures Nicolaus Copernicus was born on February 19, 1473, and died on May 24, 1543.  Johannes Kepler was born on December 27, 1571, and died on November 15, 1630.  Tycho Brahe was born on December 14, 1546, and died on October 24, 1601.  Galileo Galilei was born on February 15, 1564, and died on […] Continue reading

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Celestial Navigation – Blog 1

People have used the stars to navigate for millennia, with expert sailors learning the geography of the sky above and using it as a very powerful tool. Though much less necessary in the modern day, given our access to GPS, people still take an interest to learn how to navigate using celestial bodies. These people often can […] Continue reading

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Introductory Post

This is my test post to see if this actually if going to work.  This is my hyperlink: https://my.vanderbilt.edu/astro201solarsys/ Continue reading

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