Category Archives: astr201

I will never know if the Earth was a fluke

I had taken Astronomy 201 because I was curious about humanity’s place in the universe. As a second semester senior, I didn’t need this class at all; I just wanted broaden my understanding of the world around me. Deep down, I also wanted form an educated opinion on the possibility of extraterrestrial life. It was hence […] Continue reading Continue reading

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To Go Boldly Where No (Hu)Man Has Gone Before: The Future of Space Exploration

In the 1960’s, Star Trek popularized the idea of outer space as the “final frontier”. However, exploration of space is about as final as the possible values between .99 and 1: the possibilities are limitless. Here are few of the most exciting forthcoming explorations of this infinite final frontier: NASA’s Journey to Mars– NASA plans … Continue reading To Go Boldly Where No (Hu)Man Has Gone Before: The Future of Space Exploration Continue reading Continue reading

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Are You There, Universe? It’s Me, Earth.

In 1974, to celebrate the remodeling of Puerto Rico’s Arecibo radio telescope, the Arecibo message was sent toward the globular star cluster M13 (located 25,000 light years away from our sun) through radio waves. The message was written by Dr. Francis Drake (of the Drake equation) and Carl Sagan, among others. Aimed at other civilized … Continue reading Are You There, Universe? It’s Me, Earth. Continue reading Continue reading

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Planet Discovered with Four Parent Stars

Binary star systems, like the one featured in the Tatooine system of Star Wars are common in the universe with half of all systems being comprised that way. Ternary system, or systems with three stars, are more rare, and even more rare are quaternion systems. Planets within these four star systems are also rare, so much so […] Continue reading Continue reading

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Predicting Impact Events

In 1994, Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 created a large impact event on Jupiter, giving the scientific community a greater sense of urgency in detecting possible impact objects before they reached Earth. These efforts to detect near-Earth objects, known collectively as “Spaceguard”, have enjoyed both successes and failures. For example, in 2008, the Catalina Sky Survey discovered … Continue reading Predicting Impact Events Continue reading Continue reading

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Orbital Resonances: They Space Out the Solar System

In class we learned that the divisions in Saturn’s rings are caused by orbital resonance. Orbital resonance is a phenomenon in which “two orbiting bodies exert a regular, periodic gravitational influence on each other,” usually because their orbital periods “match up”. For instance, if particles were in Saturn’s Cassini division, they would orbit twice for … Continue reading Orbital Resonances: They Space Out the Solar System Continue reading Continue reading

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Moonquakes

Although the moon’s tectonic plates are no longer active, the moon does experience “moonquakes” not due to tectonic plates. There are four types of “moonquakes”, which can generally be explained by non-tectonic factors: tidal forces, meteoric impacts, and “the expansion of the frigid crust when first illuminated by the morning sun after two weeks of … Continue reading Moonquakes Continue reading Continue reading

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Hot off the Press: Enceladus’ Heated Core

Recent findings suggest that Enceladus, the sixth-largest of Saturn’s 62 satellites, may have heats of up to 190 degrees Celsius in its interior. NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft encountered dust particles near Saturn which originated from Enceladus. Instruments on the spacecraft found that the particles were high in silicon, but lacking in metals like sodium and magnesium. The University of … Continue reading Hot off the Press: Enceladus’ Heated Core Continue reading Continue reading

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Radio Telescopes: Like Car Radios, but Bigger

When we think “telescope”, we picture peering through a viewfinder or viewing images of the stars. However, visible light is only a small part of the electromagnetic spectrum; we can learn much about our galaxy by viewing visible light’s less frequent older brother, the radio wave. Radio telescopes are the technological descendants of actual radios (like … Continue reading Radio Telescopes: Like Car Radios, but Bigger Continue reading Continue reading

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Circadian Rhythms and the Length of the Day

We learned in class that the earth’s day is always getting longer: that is, the attraction of the moon’s gravity pulls angular momentum from the earth, slowing down its rotation. On the flip side, the earth’s day used to be much shorter. Evidence from ancient corals indicate that the year was once 385 days long, meaning that … Continue reading Circadian Rhythms and the Length of the Day Continue reading Continue reading

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