For my 2021 class…

If you’re in my 2021 Solar System class, please put a comment here showing that you’ve found my blog and that you’re following it :)  Please include your first name and last name initial.  Note that you MUST be logged in to your own WordPress blog when commenting or else you’re doing it wrong!

Also make sure you have bookmarked the big class blog aggregator: Astro2110 – The Solar System.  From there, you can follow everyone or specific classmates if you like (when I post them).

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Awesome Planetary Formation Videos

20 new protoplanetary disks, as imaged by the Disk Substructures at High Angular Resolution Project (DSHARP) collaboration, showcasing what newly-forming planetary systems look like. (S. M. ANDREWS ET AL. AND THE DSHARP COLLABORATION, ARXIV:1812.04040)
20 new protoplanetary disks, as imaged by the Disk Substructures at High Angular Resolution Project (DSHARP) collaboration, showcasing what newly-forming planetary systems look like. (S. M. ANDREWS ET AL. AND THE DSHARP COLLABORATION, ARXIV:1812.04040) Found on Dr. Ethan Sharp’s Starts With A Bang blog

I’d love to show you a whole bunch of videos that show planetary formation! Some showcase certain parts of formation better than others but they all are pretty awesome.

  • Beginning of Solar System formation (from gas cloud to disk) from ESA (0:39)
  • Why is the Solar System Flat? from Minute Physics (3:12)
  • Planetary Formation – by NASA for the James Webb Space Telescope, uses data from computer models (3:21)
  • Planet Formation – narration by Harrison Ford, I like that it has some timescale information in it, part of a larger series (3:13)
  • Short animation from the NASA Deep Impact spacecraft – it especially shows comet formation but watch for: a) gravitational forces bringing smaller things to bigger things in orbits (bound and unbound), and b) those conglomerating rocks/metals getting a layer of ices (0:55)
  • A computer model: Planetary System Formation Simulation (200 AU View) (0:45)
  • Two renderings (i.e. computer simulations) of protoplanetary disk gravitational instabilities (i.e. planet formation), one is face on (0:44) and one is an oblique angle (0:44)
  • The California Academy of Sciences has a really nice former planetarium show segment about Simulating Solar System Formation (and it explains why the Kuiper Belt (and Oort Cloud) look the way they do) (4:22)
  • blocked on copyright grounds From “Space with Sam Neill” Episode: “Star Stuff”, I really like how this one is done (I started it at 1:27) – here
  • The “Formation of the Moon” video that I commented does happen to be one of my favorites despite the speeding up of some events that they did (3:37)
  • More Moon formation – this is from a supercomputer simulation and it has the weirdest music! It’s also a bit old and you don’t need to watch until the end… (4:05)

Below is an image of the Orion Nebula (we can see it during our observations this semester ;) ) from the Hubble Space Telescope showing some of the protoplanetary disks that have been found in this nebula.  Look!!!  New baby planetary systems! :)

A collection of 30 never-before-released images of embryonic planetary systems in the Orion Nebula are the highlight of the longest single Hubble Space Telescope project ever dedicated to the topic of star and planet formation. Also known as proplyds, or protoplanetary discs, these modest blobs surrounding baby stars are shedding light on the mechanism behind planet formation. (from 2009) https://www.spacetelescope.org/news/heic0917/

The Total Lunar Eclipse of January 2019!

This total lunar eclipse will be the last non-partial one Earthlings can observe until 2021. There will be several partial lunar eclipses, but no totals :-/ Total lunar eclipses are the neat ones because the Moon turns yellow-y, then orange-y, then copper-y, then red! Note that this eclipse is going to be LONG – FIVE HOURS LONG. Well, the good part will be 3.5 hours long. My recommendation for observing a lunar eclipse is go look, then go do something else for at least 5 minutes, 10 minutes is probably better. Then look again and you should see a change! If you continuously look, you won’t see the gradual change.

A couple of great websites to use to investigate timing and what you can expect are:

Eclipse diagram with key timepoints with TIMES IN UT (not in Central!!)
from Sky & Telescope – Leah Tiscione
Screenshot of key timepoints for the 2019 January lunar eclipse for Nashville, TN specifically. Note that the good action starts with the partial eclipse start and ends when the partial ends.
from TimeAndDate.com

Lunar eclipses are visible from the whole nighttime side of Earth so lots of people get to see these (as opposed to total solar eclipses). They also don’t need any special eye protection because you don’t need any to look at the Full Moon any other time and all that’s happening is the Full Moon will get dimmer. You’ll be fine :)

Also, people are all ga-ga over “The Super Wolf Blood Moon” but you don’t need the hyperbole. It’s a cool experience regardless. If you want to know why the name is that, check out the “Trivia” at timeanddate.com

So have you ever seen an eclipse? Which kind of eclipse and what kinds of things did you notice or feelings did you have?

For my 2019 class…

If you’re in my 2019 Solar System class, please put a comment here showing that you’ve found my blog and that you’re following it :)  Please include your first name and last name initial.  Note that you MUST be logged in to your own WordPress blog when commenting or else you’re doing it wrong!

Also make sure you have bookmarked the big class blog aggregator: Astro2110 – The Solar System.  From there, you can follow everyone or specific classmates if you like (when I post them).

2019 in sparkler text!

It’s 2019!

For my 2018 class

If you’re in my 2018 Solar System class, please put a comment here showing that you’ve found my blog and that you’re following it :)  Please include your first name and last name initial.  Note that you MUST be logged in to your own WordPress blog when commenting or else you’re doing it wrong!

Also make sure you have bookmarked the big class blog aggregator: Astro2110 – The Solar System.  From there, you can follow everyone or specific classmates if you like (when I post them).

 

2018 in sparklers

It’s 2018!

For my 2017 class…

If you’re in my 2017 Solar System class, please put a comment here showing that you’ve found my blog and that you’re following it :)  Please include your first name and last name initial.  Note that you MUST be logged in to your own WordPress blog when commenting or else you’re doing it wrong!

Also make sure you have bookmarked the big class blog aggregator: Astro2110 – The Solar System.  From there, you can follow everyone or specific classmates if you like (when I post them).

new years eve 2017

Hypatia – Historical Astronomers in Context (repost)

<note to students: I went farther than you need to because no one can use Hypatia as their historical figure>

Hypatia – 350?? to 415 C.E. pic source Mathematician, astronomer, philosopher, teacher

Hypatia was the first woman KNOWN to contribute to mathematics and science.  Her father, Theon of Alexandria, was a well-known academic and taught his daughter to follow in his footsteps.  Remarkably, she was the head of the Platonist school of philosophy in Alexandria, Egypt.  She was advisor to rulers and sought out by scholars and those who wanted to learn for she was famed for her oratory skills, her sharp mind, and her virtue.  She worked on astronomical bodies and tools (astrolabes especially), on density, and abstract mathematics of the day.  Her greatest contribution to mathematics turned out not to be an original work but one that described the mathematics of conic sections (ellipses, parabolas, hyperbolas) in a manner more easily understood than the original author.  Unfortunately, she is perhaps most well-known for her manner of death: a mob of Christian fanatics kidnapped her, took her to a church, stripped her of clothing and then of her skin using roofing tiles, then burned her mutilated body.  Many historians say this event was really the end of rigorous scholarship in the once great city of Alexandria.

Other sources of interest about Hypatia:

  • Hypatia biography (from University of St. Andrews)
  • Biographies of Women Mathematicians: Hypatia (from Agnes Scott College)
  • Women in History: Hypatia (Humanist Network News Ezine)

Contemporary person:

Contemporary events:

  • Stained glass starts getting used in Roman churches
  • The Sack of Rome by the Visigoths (410 CE) – basically ended the Western Roman Empire (though the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire lasted another 1000 years).  Generally said to be the end of “classical history” and the start of the “Middle Ages”
  • Hadrian’s Wall (separating “barbarian” Scotland and “civilized” (a.k.a. Romanized) Britain) is overrun for pretty much the final time and allowed to fall into ruin (406 CE)
  • In China – Jin Dynasty
  • In IndiaGupta Empire (“The Golden Age of India”)
  • In Africa – People start settling the area of the Great Zimbabwe (but don’t build stone structures yet)
  • In Mesoamerica – the Maya and Zapotec were the most well-developed cultures but were mostly city-states with Teotihuacan as the most powerful (too early for Aztec)
  • In America – Southwest: Late Basketmaker II Era ; In Midwest/East: Hopewell Culture
  • In South America – most significant cultures are Moche and Nazca (the ones with the lines) (too early for Inca)

Reflection:

I really enjoyed seeing what was going on in the world of Hypatia’s – the things that affected her spheres and what was going on throughout the globe.  Hypatia’s specific world was one where scholarship was valued but it could really be affected by the politics of the era, especially with fanatic Christians.  It seems once Christians of the day got a bit of power or really just stopped being murdered, they adopted some of the same intolerant tactics.  She just happened to be in the wrong city in the wrong time period but she did get to live a scholarly life and be appreciated by MANY in her rather long (for that period) lifetime.  However, she lived when the mighty Roman Empire was finally defeated – what a strange time!  The Western Empire (i.e., not Byzantine) was floundering anyway but that Visigoth sack of Rome was so disheartening to the people of the day.

Elsewhere in the world, I found that what was going on in the Americas particularly interesting – I always have trouble with putting the ancient American civilizations into context.  We hadn’t gotten anywhere near Incans or Aztecs or Iroquois, but the civilizations that were there were mighty themselves.  I always wonder at what we’ve lost over the years from American cultures (from idiotic conquerers), from Mediterranean cultures (from the fires that happened at the Library of Alexandria and from religious zealotry), from just the passage of time…

Information About Eclipses

Here are some of my favorite sites for learning about eclipses (including the upcoming Great American Eclipse!):

moonslide_seip_c800-APOD

“Moon Slide (slim)” from Astronomy Picture of the Day. This “Moon-trail” by Stefan Siep was created by just opening the shutter and keeping it open for about 3 hours. Note the brightness difference between full and eclipsed :)

For the Pedagogy course

We should have a great time blogging! :)

2016 Planetary Alignment!

As described in class, here are my two favorite articles about this alignment:

Get Up Early, See Five Planets at Once! from Sky and Telescope

How to View Five Planets Aligning in a Celestial Spectacle from The New York Times

I happen to adore the NYT diagram because it shows the Solar System view as well as the view from Earth:

Screen Shot 2016-01-21 at 11.49.15 PM

View of planetary positioning from “above” the Solar System as well as the view from Earth (from the New York Times)