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Astronomy

Welcome to Astronomy class!


  Here are five questions that I would like to know the answers to. As I learn the answers to these questions, they will be posted beneath the questions.

  If the page background is beginning to seem somewhat repetitive, I should explain that I'm using pictures from our observations as page backgrounds.  We have had few observations so far, and of the relatively few pictures that we have taken, only two really effectively serve as backgrounds for pages containing text.  So if you want more, encourage observations.  Also, there's a challenge for you: pick out the two (nearly identical) pictures; figure out which pages have which.


  We have done many different activities in this class.  For organization; I will divide these activities into Observataions, Labs, Puzzles, Quizzes, and Other.


Observations

  9/02: Sun spot pictures: We used a hand-made telescope to project light from the sun onto a sheet of white paper in a box; then photographed this projection.

  9/12: At Night Observation: We went out at night and took pictures of different constellations, and of the moon.


Labs

  The Sun lab: Using the sun spot observations, we measured the rotational period, diameter, and angular size of the sun, as well as the size of a sunspot.

  The Length-of-Year lab: A lab through which we calculated the length of an Earth year using circumpolar stars.

  The Lens Lab: In this lab, we determined many of the different properties of lenses, and learned how to make a simple optical telescope.

  The Gravitational Lensing Lab: In this lab, we experimented with a device that simulates the effects of gravitational lensing.

  The Moon Crater Lab: In this lab, we calculated the height of a crater on the moon.


Puzzles

  Mystery Photograph, and my explanation: An unusual photograph, and an explanation of how it was created.

  My answers to the questions about parabolas given in the Paraboloid Mathematics activity

  A puzzle on particle physics, which has been named Puzzle #2, even though it is the third puzzle, at least on my page, that has been answered so far.

  An activity based on the Sloan Digital Sky Survey; using the red shift of stars and galaxies, we calculated their average distaces and velocities relative to Earth.

  Our final puzzle, Puzzle #3, on the birth, life, and death of stars.


Quizzes

  Quiz #1, on the properties and characteristics of our solar system, and our observation of it from Earth.

  Quiz #2, on the many oddities of Quantum Mechanics


Other

  The Constellation Ophiuchus: The constellation that I am studying, to tell stories about during observations

  I recently found a set of really nice pictures from Voyager 2 in a big pile of stuff.  There are pictures of Neptune, Neptune's moon Triton, and another of Neptune's moons, 1989N1.  I scanned them and their accompanying text and posted them here.

  A Reflection on our in-class discussion on relativity; it attempts to answer questions raised in this discussion.

  Optical Telescope Project: Here, William Hoek and I describe why optical telescopes are important, how they work, and what they are used for.

  Voyager Space Mission: This is my essay on an outer-space mission; it discusses the goals and progress of the Voyager mission, as well as some of the scientific discoveries made using data gathered by Voyager 1 and Voyager 2.

  My reflection on Quantum Mechanics; again, an attempt to answer questions raised by this discussion.

  My investigation into string theory, where I look into some of the finer details about what string theory means for the world as we presently understand it.

  My Life of a Star project, based on Polaris, the North Star; this project analyzes the birth, life, and death of Polaris, as nearly as I can approximate it (relatively little accurate data is actually available on Polaris; some of this is generalized to a generic star with Polaris's properties)

  My reflection on String Theory; this reflection mostly discusses the loopholes in our class discussion, about the limits on the universe imposed by string theory; it also considers the future of science under string theory.


 

Here are some interesting Astronomy-related Web sites:

- Astronomy Picture of the Day: displays a different Astronomy-related picture every day, with an explanation of the picture and what it shows.

- Mr. Bridger's Astronomy page: The official web site for this class; the school's main website is accessible from the menubar, and from here.

- The National Solar Observatory home page: A great reference for information about national observatories, and for digital astronomical pictures

- The Exploratorium: A website devoted to all kinds of experimental science, logic, and ... well, anything else.  I have used, in particular, the page on sunspots, which, although only a small part of the overall site, is a great resource.

- The Analemma page: This page has a thorough description, with animations and movies, of exactly what an analemma effect is (see the mystery photograph, and my explanation).