Author Archives: zws42


Neptune, the eighth planet from the Sun, is one of the four gas giants in our solar system, along with Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus. More specifically, it can be considered an ice giant since it is made up of ices and carbon compounds in addition to hydrogen and helium. Neptune is about 17 times the […] Continue reading

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The Drake Equation

The Drake equation is a mathematical formula used to estimate the number of potential intelligent civilizations in the Milky Way Galaxy. It was first proposed by astronomer Frank Drake in 1961, and has since become a widely used tool in the search for extraterrestrial life. The equation takes into account several factors that are believed […] Continue reading

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Titan is Saturn’s largest moon and the second largest moon in the solar system behind Ganymede. It is shrouded in a thick, yellow atmosphere and has standing bodies of liquid on its surface. It is the only place besides Earth(that we know of) that has an atmospheric cycle of precipitation and evaporation. One day on […] Continue reading

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Comets are Kuiper Belt objects composed of chunks of rock and various ices. For the majority of their orbits they are a long way away from the Sun and don’t have the characteristic tail that we are used to seeing. However, as the comet dives back into the inner solar system, the radiation from the […] Continue reading

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Dark Matter

In studies of galaxies and star clusters, astronomers have found that many of these bodies appear to move in ways that don’t reflect the amount of visible matter in the system. For instance, some galaxies appear to orbit much faster than they should be based on the amount of stuff we can see within them. […] Continue reading

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Nuclear Fusion

Nuclear fusion is the process that powers our sun, as well as all the other stars in the Universe. At the most basic level, nuclear fusion is the combination of two light atomic nuclei to form a heavier one along with a release of energy. This reaction is governed by Einstein’s E=mc^2 equation, where some […] Continue reading

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Ancient Mayan Astronomy

The ancient Mayan civilization, which existed from approximately 2000 BCE to 1500 CE in present day Mexico and Central America, had a highly advanced understanding of astronomy. They used their astronomical knowledge for many things, including religious rituals, calendar systems, and timekeeping. Their primary focus was on tracking the movements of the sun, moon, and […] Continue reading

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Historical Astronomers in Context

Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) Tycho Brahe was the best naked eye observer of all time. He lived before the invention of the telescope, and therefore had to rely on his vision for all of his observations. He presented a geo-heliocentric model of the solar system in which the sun and moon revolved around Earth but everything […] Continue reading

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The Cosmic Calendar

The Cosmic Calendar is a visualization of the timeline of the Universe that was popularized by astrophysicist Carl Sagan. In this timeline, the entire history of the Universe is scaled down to the length of one Earth year. As you can see from the picture above, January 1st is marked by the Big Bang and […] Continue reading

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This is a picture of my brother and I taken in my backyard at home. Home for me is in Trussville, Alabama; which is about twenty minutes outside of Birmingham. I am a sophomore majoring in Mechanical Engineering and I plan on minoring in Astronomy and Engineering Management. Outside of class, I am a member […] Continue reading

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