Tides and their effect on human life

This diagram shows the moon and sun’s effect on the earth’s tide.

People around the world aim to predict the highest and lowest tides using tide tables. Spring tides happen due to the gravitational pull from both the moon and sun. When the moon and sun are pulling from the same direction, the tide is more intense and this is called a spring tide. This usually occurs during a full moon or new moon. Tides are very important to track. This is especially true for boats who must cross under bridges or for coastal construction projects that must take the tide into consideration when building.

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Telescopes of All Kinds

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Telescopes allow us to view the stars, planets, galaxies, and even quasars in great detail. Before the telescope, astronomers relied on naked eye astronomy, something Tycho Brahe was very good at. It’s really fascinating to learn how these telescopes work. Essentially, there are two types of telescopes – refracting and reflecting. Refracting telescopes use two convex lenses which inwardly bend line, making “objects in the mirror are closer than they appear. However, reflecting telescopes don’t use any lenses. Rather, they use concave mirrors. Reflecting mirrors are more popular in larger telescopes such as the one pictures above in Mauna Kea primarily because you can build them larger and they don’t cause chromatic aberration. Essentially, the larger the mirror, the more light can reflect off it (hence the term reflecting telescopes), and the larger field of view we have of our cosmos. Interestingly, the largest telescope mirror in the world is the Gran Telescopio Canarias at 10.4 meters!

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James Webb Space Telescope

Because of the nature of light, it is evident that the key to learning the secrets of the past is through the use of telescopes. As of right now I believe the most powerful telescope in the world is the Hubble telescope. However, that is set to change in 2019 with the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope. The Hubble telescope is very powerful, mostly operating on the UV part of the spectrum. However, the Webb will operate on the infrared part of the spectrum which will allow astronomers to see further back in time than ever before. Planets that are beginning to form at the moment are mostly hidden to us due to dust that surrounds them, but a telescope that perceives infrared light will be able to see through these dust clouds. This is certainly very exciting, and it is impossible to know what this telescope will reveal. I feel like I am really unable to even speculate the possibilities, but this topic really caught my attention and I wanted to bring it to the attention of others who perhaps have not heard about this. It seems that this telescope could reveal all sorts of information about some of the earliest stars and planets and how exactly they were formed. Perhaps through this we could even learn more about our own origins and hopefully come closer to unlocking the secrets of the entire universe’s history.

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Webb and Hubble Primary Mirrors

 

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Gravitational Waves

gravitywave
National Public Radio

Up until recently, the only way we have been able to gather information about stars, galaxies, and the universe around us has been through the study of light. However, as of the last few years, the discovery of gravitational waves provides a new method of collecting information about the universe.

Although gravitational waves were first observed recently, they were first theorized a century ago by Einstein.  In essence, gravitational waves are ripples moving through the fabric of space-time. These (observable) ripples are caused by violent gravitational events, such as the merger of two black holes.  Even though such violent events involve massive amounts of energy, the gravitational waves they produce are minuscule.

In order to detect these tiny ripples in space-time, extremely sensitive detectors are needed. These detectors rely upon the spacial contraction that gravitational waves produce. Although a gravitational wave detector may seem like a complicated piece of machinery, it is really quite a simple device. A gravitational wave detector uses a laser to precisely measure a large distance. It then monitors for tiny fluctuation in distance that would indicate a ripple in space-time.

So far, this technology has only been used to confirm events first observed by optical telescopes, but as the field of gravitational wave spectroscopy develops it will surely lead us beyond the scope of optical telescopes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Influences of the Moon in Astronomy and Astrology

Nuremberg_chronicles sun and moon
Wikipedia.

When one looks up their horoscope in the daily paper, predictions are made based on the sun signs. One of the many things these horoscopes miss is the powerful astrological influence of the moon, which in some cases is stronger than that of the sun. It’s not just pop culture astrology that overlooks the moon; Western, secular culture often does the same. In a post-industrial society with a solar calendar, the influences of the moon which were strongly felt in times past through the lunar calendar and the economic ramifications of the tides are no longer seen as so practically important. While most individuals no longer follow the phases of the moon, the sun’s daily and yearly influences cannot be ignored even by our modern society, whether the marking of time or the passing of the seasons.

Popular horoscopes and modern culture may ignore the importance of the moon, but astronomy and astrology acknowledge the powerful influences of the moon on both the earth and those on it.  Since the moon is so much closer to earth than the sun is, its gravitational effects can sometimes be felt more strongly than the star and the center of of our solar system. For example, the sun does influence the tides on earth, but only at a strength less than half of that of the moon. This causes the phenomena known as spring tides and neap tides. When the sun’s tidal influence aligns with that of the moon, tidal effects become more extreme, creating spring tides. When the opposite occurs and the sun’s tidal influence is at odds with that of the moon, weaker tides, known as neap tides take place. In this case, the moon’s influence is seen as stronger than that of the sun! This same gravitational influence of the moon has changed the earth’s day length from about 6 hours to our current 24 hours as it slows down the earth’s rotation.

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Tidal influences of the sun and moon; spring and neap tides. Wikipedia.

At the same time, the astrological influences of the moon are vital in any birth chart. While second to the sun overall, there are certain domains in which the influences of the moon are dominant. The moon is understood to determine the emotional, inner moods of an individual, even as the sun determines the overall personality. For example, someone whose natal sun is in Scorpio but whose moon is in Aquarius will have a personality strongly influenced by deep emotion and a stubborn willpower yet will also tend to be emotionally detached, rebellious, and moody. If both the natal sun and moon are in Scorpio, then the individual will see Scorpio even more powerfully than usual! This is why the influence of the moon must not be ignored, since it provides influences which are distinct and often at odds with those of the sun. Wonder why popular horoscope readings often seem inaccurate? It’s because they ignore vital influences like those of the moon on individuals! Beyond this, popular horoscopes also ignore the rest of the planets and their positions in the chart, missing all of the nuances of the birth chart! This is why newspaper horoscopes seem so vague, because they reduce everyone in the world into 12 categories. Of course they will be vague! In reality, there are so many influences in the birth chart, and few are as important as those of the moon. Just like astronomically, when the influences of the sun and moon line up, they cause these influences to be even more extreme, as we see with the tides!

 

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How do radio waves differ from visible light

Radio waves actually travel at the speed of light in vacuum, which is about 300,000,000 meters per second. It is fast enough for anyone on Earth to contact others on Earth in less a second. Radio waves are electromagnetic waves, so is light. The differences between light and radio waves are their frequencies and wavelengths.

Wavelengths with different sizes also have slightly different properties. For example,  radio waves have a longer wavelength and lower frequencies, so they are less energetic than visible light and that is why radio waves have relatively no effects on human body.

It is also because of their differences in frequencies and wavelengths, radio waves can pass through certain materials that visible light can not. However, when light encounters a thick and opaque material, it is likely to be reflected or absorbed. That is why, people can use cellular services inside buildings but can not do so in elevators.

 

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Picture from Gilnahirk Action Group

 

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How do radio waves differ from visible light

Radio waves actually travel at the speed of light in vacuum, which is about 300,000,000 meters per second. It is fast enough for anyone on Earth to contact others on Earth in less a second. Radio waves are electromagnetic waves, so is light. The differences between light and radio waves are their frequencies and wavelengths.

Wavelengths with different sizes also have slightly different properties. For example,  radio waves have a longer wavelength and lower frequencies, so they are less energetic than visible light and that is why radio waves have relatively no effects on human body.

It is also because of their differences in frequencies and wavelengths, radio waves can pass through certain materials that visible light can not. However, when light encounters a thick and opaque material, it is likely to be reflected or absorbed. That is why, people can use cellular services inside buildings but can not do so in elevators.

 

427639_orig
Picture from Gilnahirk Action Group

 

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Blog 3 – The Great Collision

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A visual representation of our collision with Andromeda

Right now, everything in our universe is getting further and further away from us. Except for one thing. That one thing is Andromeda, the closest galaxy to our Milky Way. Instead of getting further away, Andromeda is actually getting closer and closer. Right now, we are getting closer at a rate of 300 kilometers per second. In a mere 4 billion years, our very own Milky Way will go through an epic collision with Andromeda. Except, the collision won’t be as epic as it seems.

Chances are, when the two galaxies collide, they will form one large galaxy. However, there will not be a huge explosion from the collision of stars and planets. In reality, the bodies are so far apart and there is so much space between each celestial body that it is very likely that most stars and planets will survive the collision untouched. That’s not to say the galaxy will look the exact same. There could be some new coloring from the collision, and definitely a new shape. It is uncertain if life on our would continue the same way, and if our galaxy would continue to operate in the same way. Guess we’ll have to just wait to find out!

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Blog 3 – The Great Collision

collision
A visual representation of our collision with Andromeda

Right now, everything in our universe is getting further and further away from us. Except for one thing. That one thing is Andromeda, the closest galaxy to our Milky Way. Instead of getting further away, Andromeda is actually getting closer and closer. Right now, we are getting closer at a rate of 300 kilometers per second. In a mere 4 billion years, our very own Milky Way will go through an epic collision with Andromeda. Except, the collision won’t be as epic as it seems.

Chances are, when the two galaxies collide, they will form one large galaxy. However, there will not be a huge explosion from the collision of stars and planets. In reality, the bodies are so far apart and there is so much space between each celestial body that it is very likely that most stars and planets will survive the collision untouched. That’s not to say the galaxy will look the exact same. There could be some new coloring from the collision, and definitely a new shape. It is uncertain if life on our would continue the same way, and if our galaxy would continue to operate in the same way. Guess we’ll have to just wait to find out!

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Gravity

Gravity is a fascinating phenomenon of physics that is integral to understanding the universe.  Gravity keeps Earth in orbit around the sun, and the Moon in orbit around Earth.  Any object that has mass, also has gravity. Moreover, the gravitational force between two objects is caused by two factors: mass and distance.  The gravitational force between two large objects at the same distance is greater than the gravitational force between two smaller objects.  Furthermore, the closer the distance between two objects, the greater the gravitational force.  The gravitational force between two objects can be summarized by the equation F = G * M1M2/r^2, where G is the gravitational constant, M1 is the mass of object one, M2 is the mass of object 2, and r is the distance between the two objects. As you can see, the force of gravity changes by object or planet.  Thus, an object’s weight — the force of gravity acting on an object — changes based on location, as the forces of gravity change from one planet to another (see below).  So, a person’s weight on Earth is more than their weight on Mars, but less than their weight on Jupiter.  This is because Mars is less massive than Earth, while Jupiter is more massive than Earth.  As a result, Mar’s gravitational force acting on an object on its surface is less than Earth’s, which in turn is less than Jupiter (which is more massive than Earth).  Note, a person exerts the same gravitational force on Earth (or any object they are on) as the Earth does on that person.  Yet, since the Earth is exponentially more massive than that person, your gravitational force is all but negligible on the planet, while the planet’s gravitational force keeps you from floating off into space.

Infographic showing how much you'd weigh on other planets and the moon

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