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Astronomy: Watching the Sky. A TCNJ CCS Program. Contents. Class 1: From Astrology to Astronomy – The history of looking up at the sky. Class 2: A Trip Through the Solar System – Planets, Moons, and Comets. Oh My! Class 3: The Big Bang and the Universe – The history of everything

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Astronomy: Watching the Sky

A TCNJ CCS Program

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  • Class 1: From Astrology to Astronomy –The history of looking up at the sky.

  • Class 2: A Trip Through the Solar System – Planets, Moons, and Comets. Oh My!

  • Class 3: The Big Bang and the Universe – The history of everything

  • Class 4: Space Exploration– Spaceflight and a visit to the planetarium.

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In the beginning…

  • The ancients believed that the sky was the realm of the gods.

  • They knew the sky well. With no TV or Internet there was nothing else to watch at night!

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In the beginning…

  • Define terms:

  • Astrology : A belief system that the positions of the stars and planets provide information about personality, human affairs, and other earthly matters.

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In the beginning

  • Astronomy: the scientific study of celestial objects (such as stars, planets, comets, and galaxies) and phenomena that originate outside the Earth's atmosphere.

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Astronomy vs. Astrology

  • Astronomy and Astrology were largely the same thing.

  • Many cultures believed that the heavens were the realm of the gods who controlled men destinies.

  • Observing the heavens, however, also had very practical applications.

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Ancient Astronomy Worldwide

  • Many ancient cultures had a highly developed art of astronomy.

  • This included the Chinese, Arabs, Greeks, Babylonians and Mayans.

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Egyptian Astronomy

  • Had a 360 day calendar from earliest times.

  • Used movement of stars and sun to predict Nile flood.

  • Religious festivals timed with moon, stars, sun.

  • Temples built base on alignment with sky.

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Alignment with Sky

  • Pyramids aligned with Polaris, the North Star.

  • Temple Amun-Re at Karnak has a passage that is only illuminated by the mid-winter’s rising sun.

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  • The ancients noticed that stars always rose at the same point.

  • Other objects like the Sun and Moon would vary with the time and season.

  • Monuments like Stonehenge were built aligned to certain days of the year and could act as calendars.

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Sun, Moon & Planets

  • Do not rise and set at the same place over each day.

  • But the stars do!

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  • Sunrise alignment and a tomb.

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Egyptian Gods in the Sky

  • Sun was the god Re

  • Moon was Troth god of wisdom.

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Ancient Constellations

  • A grouping of stars is a constellation.

  • Different ancient cultures had different constellations.

  • The afterlife god Osiris shares most of the same stars with our modern constellation Orion.

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Some Greek Constellations

  • Capricorn (the goat) – Draco (the dragon)

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What the Ancients Saw

  • All noticed that the stars seemed to be fixed on a giant sphere that turned about the earth (The “Starry Vault”)

  • The sun and moon moved across the sphere on similar path.

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The Wanderers

  • Another group of objects moved across the sky in the same path as the sun and moon.

  • These did not always move in a consistent direction but wandered forward and back.

  • We call this objects planets after the ancient Greek word for wanderer.

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Hairy Stars

  • Comets were planet-like objects with long tails that appeared at random times.

  • They were often associated with important (sometimes evil) events (death of a king, etc.).

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Evil Omen

  • In 1066 the appearance of Halley’s Comet was considered an omen of the death of Harold II of England who died at the Battle of Hastings later that year.

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The Zodiac

  • The constellations the sun, moon and planets moved through were often considered special.

  • Today we call this group the Zodiac.

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The Zodiacs

  • Different cultures had different zodiacs because their constellations were different.

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Greek Zodiac

  • The Greek Zodiac has 12 constellations:

  • Aries, the ram; Taurus, the bull; Gemini, the twins; Cancer, the crab; Leo, the Lion; Virgo, the Virgin; Libra, the scales; Scorpio, the scorpion, Sagittarius, the archer; Capricorn, the goat; Aquarius, the water bearer; and Pisces, the fish.

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Greeks: Aristotle

  • Aristotle believed that the earth was at the center of a number of sphere’s.

  • On the outermost sphere were the stars.

  • Inner spheres contained the sun, moon and planets.

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Geocentric System

  • A planetary system with Earth at the center like Aristotle proposed was geocentric. The Greek word geo means “Earth.”

  • Most ancient astronomers used a geocentric system.

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The Greeks: The Almagest

  • Around 100 BC Claudius Ptolemy took Aristotle's system and put math to it.

  • He published this in a massive book called the Almagest.

  • It was the authority for astronomy for almost the next 1000 years.

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The “Wanders” Problem

  • The old geocentric system had hard time explaining the motion of the planets. How could they make these strange loops?

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Heliocentric Theory

  • A few ancient scholars, however, came up with the idea that the Sun, not the Earth was the center of the solar system (Such as Aryabhata a 5th century Indian astronomer).

  • A planetary system with the sun in the center is known as a heliocentric system.

  • From the Greek word Helios, which means “Sun.”

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  • Around 1530 the Polish scholar Nicholas Copernicus published a book On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres proposing a heliocentric system.

  • It was a much simpler system then Ptolemy’s.

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Retrograde Motion

  • Because both Earth & other planets are orbiting the Sun they can appear to move backwards.

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Copernican Revolution

  • Copernicus’ claim was controversial.

  • Man and Earth not center of universe.

  • Changed our understanding of man’s place in universe.

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Johannes Kepler

  • One of the first astronomers to adopt and defend Copernicus’ sun centered system.

  • Invented a basic refracting telescope.

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  • Kepler’s Laws of Planetary Motion

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Kepler’s Laws of Planetary Motion

  • Kepler discovered that the length of their orbit was a function of their distance from the sun.

  • He also realized that planets did not move in perfect circular orbits, but ellipses.

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Galileo Galilei

  • Did not invent the telescope.

  • One of the first persons to use it for astronomy.

  • Vocal supporter of sun centered system.

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Galileo’s Accomplishments

  • Discovered mountains on the moon in 1610.

  • Discovered four moons of Jupiter in 1610.

  • Discovered rings of Saturn in 1610.

  • Discovered sunspots in 1613.

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Galileo and the Church

  • The church found the sun centered system “false and contrary to Scripture.”

  • Galileo was warned not to defend Copernicus’ system.

  • He was put on trial and forced to recant his ideas.

  • He spent the end of his life under house arrest.

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Father of Modern Astronomy

  • Has been called:

  • Father of modern observational astronomy

  • Father of modern physics

  • Father of Modern Science

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  • Stephen Hawking says, "Galileo, perhaps more than any other single person, was responsible for the birth of modern science.“

  • In 1992, Pope John Paul II issued a declaration acknowledging the errors committed by the Church tribunal that judged the scientific positions of Galileo.

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Newton’s Gravity

  • Isaac Newton born on 4 January 1643.

  • Gravity: Every object in the universe attracts every other object.

  • The force is more powerful with more mass involved.

  • The force weakens over distance.

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Law of Gravity

  • We are 6 times heavier on the Earth than the moon because the Earth is more massive than the moon.

  • If you weighed 100 pounds on Earth you would be 16.6 pounds on the moon and 236 pounds on Jupiter.

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  • One of the weakest forces in nature, but also one of the most long range.

  • Holds the planets in orbit around the sun.

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  • Gravity vs. Electromagnetism

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  • Read “Comet Halley: Harbinger of Death?” for next class.

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Group Work:

  • Groups will work together to present on these topic on February 1st.

    • Mars: Is there a possibility of Life on Mars?

    • What’s the Story with Pluto?

    • How does a telescope work?

    • What is SETI?