Author Archives: solarsystemjoe

SETI – The “Wow!” Signal Today

Although SETI institute was founded in 1984, the search for extraterrestrial life concerned scientists for many years prior.  In 1977, Ohio State’s Big Ear radio telescope heard exactly what it had been searching for: the “Wow!” signal.  The radio telescope was attempting to detect radio waves around the three-star system, Chi Sagittarii, when it detected radio […] Continue reading Continue reading

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Why We Think Dark Matter Exists

Solely based on our experiences, we might be inclined to say that most of the universe is composed of “normal matter,” electrons, quarks and other subatomic particles.   However,  we have reason to believe that there are other kinds of matter in the universe, dark matter and dark energy.  In fact, according to this pie […] Continue reading Continue reading

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Europa, a Galilean Moon of Jupiter

As the title suggests, Europa was discovered by Galileo in 1610.  Although Galileo’s instruments for investigating the cosmos weren’t as sophisticated as ours are today, the relatively large size of Europa, a size comparable to the moon’s size, made it possible for it to be discovered in 1610.  And since then, Europa has been investigated […] Continue reading Continue reading

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NASA’s Solar Probe Plus

By 2018, NASA will launch the Solar Probe Plus.  This probe will get within 9 solar radii of the surface of the Sun.  That distance is 7 times closer than any probe has ever been.  A portion of the probe will have to remain cool and the rest of it will have to be as […] Continue reading Continue reading

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Earth’s Changing Magnetosphere

One of Earth’s most important features is its Magnetosphere.  This magnetic field that surrounds Earth deflects Solar wind that could slowly widdle away our atmosphere. Without an atmosphere, life would not have been able to develop on Earth.  In addition, if we were to suddenly lose our magnetosphere, then our power grids and other electronics […] Continue reading Continue reading

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The Sun and the Missing Neutrinos

First of all, what is a neutrino?  It’s an elementary particle, like an electron or a photon, but it hardly interacts with matter.  In fact, billions of neutrinos pass through you every second, but you don’t feel them.  This characteristic makes them hard to detect.  It’s no wonder that, in recent history, scientists thought some […] Continue reading Continue reading

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Newgrange, Archeoastronomy Before Stonehenge

Although Stonehenge is the most famous ancient astronomy site in Europe, it isn’t the oldest.  While Stonehenge was built around 3000 BCE, Newgrange, a tomb in Country Meath, Ireland, was built around  3200 BCE. At first glance, this tomb doesn’t seem to have much to do with astronomy; there is no telescope, nor is there a spire to […] Continue reading Continue reading

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Historical Astronomers in Context

The astronomer I’ve picked is Sir Isaac Newton (Born January 4, 1643 – Died March 31, 1727).  Newton made discoveries that both directly indirectly impacted astronomy.  First, directly, Newton published the universal law of gravitation in The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, in 1687.  This law stated that the force of attraction between two objects […] Continue reading Continue reading

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Sky Map

In our Solar System class, we’ve been using Stellarium to investigate the relative motion of constellations and our Sun.  Beyond the ability to lapse time, the features that were most helpful to me were the ones that labelled the constellations and drew lines in between the stars that formed these constellations. As an amateur astronomy student, I’ve […] Continue reading Continue reading

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The Universal Speed Limit

According to the Special Theory of Relativity, the speed at which light travels is the same in all reference frames.  In other words, you will always observe that light will travel at 2.99*10^8 m/s, regardless of how fast you’re going.  At first, one might think that this number is so high that it would make little […] Continue reading Continue reading

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