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Category Archives: General
I learned much more than I thought I would in this course. Before taking this class, all I really knew about our solar system was that there are 8 planets (and Earth is the third one), the asteroid belt is a thing, Jupiter is big, and Saturn is the planet with pretty rings. I didn’t … Continue reading Finale – Culminate Post → Continue reading → Continue reading
An amazing part of the class this semester was the ability to understand and correct some of the misconceptions that I have held about the Solar System for years. Whether it was about the ‘dark’ side of the moon, the brightness of the North Star, tides, the asteroid belt being hard to navigate through, or … Continue reading I See the Light → Continue reading → Continue reading
Because the caves, mines, and crevasses on Earth are filled with extremophiles, NASA uses those lifeforms as a guide to its exploration of the universe. The hidden parts of the planet have to make their own way of survival. Surface life has photosynthesis, but subsurface only a tiny fraction of that energy trickles down so … Continue reading A Whole New World! → Continue reading → Continue reading
Most of us probably remember a time when the Solar System had nine planets, with Pluto as the ninth and (usually) farthest from the Sun. In 2006, following the discovery of Eris, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) voted to reclassify Pluto as a “dwarf planet” (don’t forget the quotation marks!). However, there might one day […] Continue reading → Continue reading
Galileo Galilei discovered many “luminous objects” in 1610 that were orbiting Jupiter. Thought to be stars, it was discovered that they were moons: Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. Ganymede is the largest moon in the Solar System and is even larger than the planet Mercury. It is the only satellite in the Solar System known to possess a … Continue reading A Moon Above the Rest: Jupiter’s Moon Ganymede → Continue reading → Continue reading
Strict Aristotelian cosmology follows that all bodies are made of the four elements: earth, water, air, and fire. These four exist in the terrestrial realm and the stars exist in the celestial realm. A fifth element, aether, exists there and that is what heavenly bodies are composed of. Aristotle provided the basics of the physics … Continue reading Saving the Appearances → Continue reading → Continue reading
The planet Venus is named for the Roman goddess of love and beauty. It is the second largest terrestrial planet. It is also the second brightest natural object in the sky. Venus’ apparent magnitude of -3.8 to -4.6 makes it visible on a clear day. Venus’ atmosphere can be divided into two layers: the cloud … Continue reading Second Planet to the Sun → Continue reading → Continue reading
Isaac Newton’s law of universal gravitation first appeared in the Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica in July 1687. It describes why that apple fell on Newton’s head (as some stories would have it), why we stay rooted to the ground (without drifting off into space), and why the Earth is locked in orbit around the Sun (among … Continue reading Newton’s Law of Gravitation and General Relativity → Continue reading → Continue reading
I watched a Crash Course video on light that proved to be really helpful and informative. After watching this video, I realized the importance of spectroscopy and understood what light actually is. The scientific term for light is actually electromagnetic radiation, and even humans emit them. Once again, the video touched upon the wavelength spectrum. … Continue reading Light is Everything → Continue reading → Continue reading
In other religions, there was no need for astronomy except for the creation of the calendar. Ancient Pagans used Stonehenge to determine their calendar. In Early Judaism, they created their calendar. For Christianity, although it helped dictate holidays, it had pushback from philosophy and scientific observations. Astronomy played a major role in early Islam. Besides … Continue reading Ancient Achievements → Continue reading → Continue reading