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Astronomy. Earth Science R. I. What is Astronomy?. Astronomy is the study of the Universe. A. Astronomical Measures. Long distances exist in space and are measured in Light Years.

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Astronomy l.jpg


Earth Science R

I what is astronomy l.jpg

I. What is Astronomy?

Astronomy is the study of the Universe.

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A. Astronomical Measures

  • Long distances exist in space and are measured in

    Light Years.

  • A light year is the distance that light travels in one year at a velocity of 186,000 mps or 669,600,000 mph. That’s 5,865,696,000,000 miles in one year.

  • One Light Year = 1 Astronomical Unit (AU)

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B. Galaxies

  • A galaxy is a system of stars (billions).

  • There are three types.

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a. Spiral Galaxy

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The Milky Way from Earth

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The Milky Way from the Hubble Space Telescope

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Our position in the Milky Way

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Our nearest neighbor…

The Andromeda Galaxy

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b. Elliptical Galaxies

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c. Irregular Galaxies

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C. The Sun – Our Closest Star

  • Energy from the Sun drives all weather and water processes on Earth

  • Temperature ranges from 6000 K at the surface to 12,000,000 K at the center.

  • The sun is composed of H & He.

  • Age is about 5 by and is expected to last another 5 by.

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6. Sunspots

  • Cooler gases result in dark spots called sunspots.

  • Indicate that the sun does not rotate uniformly.

  • Occur in 11 year cycles.

  • Can alter Earth’s climate.

  • Are actually areas of cooler gases.

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  • What is the fuel of the Sun?


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Sample Questions

What type of star is Polaris?


Two stars of the same color are plotted on an H-R diagram. Star A is more luminous than Star B. Correctly explain the reason for this difference.

Star A is larger than Star B

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More Sample Questions

Name a star that is cooler and many times larger than Earth’s Sun.


Compared to other groups of stars, the group that has low luminosity and low temperatures are the

Red Dwarfs

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The Electromagnetic Spectrum of Radiation

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What does a shift in wavelength toward the red-light end of the visible spectrum tell us about the universe?

It is expanding

Name a star whose surface temperature is closest to the temperature of the boundary between Earth’s mantle and Core.

The Sun

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Which type of electromagnetic energy is more intense?




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II. The Solar System

  • How did the planets form?

     Planets’ characteristics are based on their distances from the Sun.

    Terrestrial Planets are mostly rock where heat drove off ice & gases.

    Jovian Planets are cooler and farther from the Suntherefore are mostly gas

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A. Terrestrial Planets


    No Moons.

    Period of Revolution = 88 days

    Period of Rotation = 59 days

    Temps = -180 to 430ºC

    No atmosphere.

    Difficult for us to see it being so close to the sun.

    The surface is “Frozen in time” like our Moon and Mars.

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Terrestrial Planets


No Moons.

Period of Revolution = 224.7 days

Period of Rotation = 243 days

Temps = consistently >400ºC

The thickest atmosphere; mostly CO2 and the air pressure is 90x that of Earth: Greenhouse Effect

Surface of great mystery.

Extensive Volcanism.

Day is longer than a year.

Retrograde Motion

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Terrestrial Planets


One Moon.

Period of Revolution = 365.26 days

Period of Rotation = ~24 hours

LIFE is supported in the Ecosphere region around the Sun (from Venus to Mars)

Oceans served as the breeding ground for life.

Oceans allow us to live comfortably in moderation

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Terrestrial Planets


Two Moons.

Period of Revolution = 687 days

Period of Rotation = ~25 hours

Temps reach 27 C


Polar Ice Caps

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B. Jovian Planets


Sixteen Moons.

Period of Revolution = 11.86 yrs

Period of Rotation = 9 hr, 50 min

A spinning top

Great Red Spot

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Jovian Planets


Eighteen Moons.

Period of Revolution = 29.46 yrs

Period of Rotation = 10 hr, 14 min

Rings of Ice

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Jovian Planets


Twenty-one Moons.

Period of Revolution = 84 yrs

Period of Rotation = 17 hr, 14 min

Rotating on it’s side in Retrograde Motion.

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Jovian Planets


Eight Moons.

Period of Revolution = 164.8 yrs

Period of Rotation = 16 hours

Temps as low as -210 C

Outermost planet in our solar system.

Faint rings.

Low energy from the sun leads to high winds.

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Dwarf Planets

xx. PLUTO & CO.

Pluto itself has 2 moons.

Period of Revolution = 247.7 yrs

Period of Rotation = 6 days, 9 hrs

Oblong orbit disqualifies it as a planet

There are now eight similar objects beyond Neptune

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  • Which planets if placed in water would float?


    Correctly compare the size, density and composition of Neptune to Earth.

    Neptune is larger, more gaseous and less dense

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A major belt of asteroids is located between Mars and Jupiter. What is the average distance from the Sun to the Asteroids?

390 million km

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Space Travel the most significant advance in our study of Astronomy



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III. Space Objects

  • Asteroids – Left over debris

    An asteroid belt comprised of thousands of small rocks circles the sun between Mars and Jupiter.

    The asteroid Hermes nearly hit Earth in 1936. It could happen…

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B. Comets

  • Large chunks of Ice moving at high velocities.

  • Have orbits of High Eccentricity. See p 42.

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C. Impact Events

  • Craters are the result of impacts from extra-terrestrial objects.

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IV. Deep Space Phenomena

  • Scientists believe the universe started with the big bang, 15 to 20 million years ago. Clouds of H & He became galaxies and stars.

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A. Life of a Star

  • Nebula – gas and dust cloud

  • Nuclear Fusion begins

  • As the star ages, it becomes a red giant

  • After the red giant collapses, it becomes a white dwarf.

  • Increased gravity results in a neutron star.

  • A neutron star may explode, resulting in a supernova.

  • A new star called a pulsar may form briefly and the increased gravity causes it to collapse forming a black hole.

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Red Giant as seen from Hubble

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White dwarf

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Black Holes

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Stars will undergo evolutionary changes over millions of years. Which sequence of events shows the predicted life of Earth’s Sun?

  • Yellow StarRed GiantBlack Hole

  • Yellow StarSupernovaBlack Hole

  • Yellow StarRed GiantWhite Dwarf

  • Yellow StarSupernovaBlack Dwarf

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  • Stars appear to move in different paths across the night sky, just like the sun appears to move across the sky throughout the course of one day.

  • Circumpolar – Stars that can be seen throughout the year, appear to circulate around Polaris.

  • Ecliptic – Stars that can only be seen during certain months of the year. They are “eclipsed” by the Sun.

B. Apparent Star Motions



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C. The Constellations

Constellations are patterns of stars in the sky. The zodiac of the month is eclipsed by the Sun.

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Orion, A Winter Constellation



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Phases of the Moon

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Waxing Crescent

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Phases of the Moon

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First Quarter

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Phases of the Moon

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Waxing Gibbous

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Phases of the Moon

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Full Moon

Once in a “Blue Moon”…?

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Phases of the Moon

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Waning Gibbous

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Phases of the Moon

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Third (Last) Quarter

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Phases of the Moon

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Waning Crescent

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