Author Archives: sarabkeller

Where is everyone?

This past couple weeks, we spent time looking in-depth at the Drake equation, a hypothetical equation that uses estimation to “calculate” how many communicating civilizations there likely should be within any one galaxy. Using accepted values for each variable within the Drake equation, this number is roughly 30 for one galaxy. That number multiplied by the […] Continue reading Continue reading

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Where did all the dinosaurs go?

I think one of the more fascinating topics in Earth’s past is the mystery of the dinosaurs. They were here 65 million years ago (for a shockingly long time—if you remember, they were here for almost a week in the “calendar” of the universe!) and then suddenly disappeared. So, what happened to them? It is […] Continue reading Continue reading

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“Hot” Jupiters

Last unit, we learned about the formation of our own solar system, in which small, rocky planets formed close to the Sun, and large, gas giants formed far from the Sun (past the frost line). This is due to the fact that during planetary formation, the area closest to the Sun was extremely hot, and […] Continue reading Continue reading

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Planet 9

It was a sad day when the powers that be decided that Pluto was no longer fit to be called a planet. However, this January, in a shocking turn of events, scientists at Caltech may have discovered (or somewhat indirectly presume) the existence of a real ninth planet, an ice giant by the incredibly original […] Continue reading Continue reading

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The Atmosphere of Venus

I have always been oddly fascinated by Venus. Not only is it the Roman name for arguably the most interesting (and controversial) Greek Goddess, Aphrodite, but it also has a lot of really fascinating characteristics. The surface of Venus is so hot that robotic probes wouldn’t be able to last for very long on it, […] Continue reading Continue reading

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The Effect of Living in Space

While I think that studying space and astronomy is super awesome, I honestly am not sure I can imagine anything worse than living in space for an extended period of time. As we discussed in class, living in space (or at least in orbit) is essentially like being in constant free fall. You know that stomach […] Continue reading Continue reading

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How Gravity Affects Space-Time

One of the more interesting (and more confusing) concepts we’ve learned thus far in the Solar System is the bending of spacetime. As can be seen in the figure below, massive objects with gravity (such as planets or stars) have the unique property in that they can bend the spacetime “grid” around them. Before you […] Continue reading Continue reading

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Historical Astronomers in Context

Isaac Newton: January 4, 1643-March 21, 1727 Concurrent World Events 1688: Glorious Revolution in England. James II is dethroned and replaced by William and Mary, thus converting England from Catholicism to Protestantism. 1692: Salem witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts. This was a time of public hysteria against theorized “witches”, resulting in 20 deaths of accused witches […] Continue reading Continue reading

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Precession of Earth

I think one of the most interesting topics in Chapter 2 of the Astronomy textbook is about the concept of precession, or the gradual change in the rotational axis of Earth. The direction of Earth’s axis rotates on a 26,000 year cycle. That may mean next to nothing to us in our lifespan, but precession will gradually […] Continue reading Continue reading

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The size of the universe and what that means for space travel

If there is one thing that I have learned so far in the Solar System, it’s that the universe is really big. Just for light to travel from one end of the Milky Way galaxy to the other takes 100,000 light years, and this distance is short compared to the universe itself! Additionally, since light […] Continue reading Continue reading

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