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Chapter 1 The Earth and the Universe Exploring the Universe ight night wh udded wit On a fine b ou look up at the sky Little do you ger than the ¢ that ea he far bi have been estimated to be many million’ of times the he eafth. These stars are not. scattered better Each galaxy may (00 million stars. tis believed Milky Way) alone illion sta that the earth’s own galaxy (the tains as many as 100,04 The stars appear small to us even through ecause they are so far away. The rom the nearest star travelling at the speed of light (ie. 186,000 miles per second) takes something like four years (0 reach us. A ray of light from the sun akes about akes onl eight minutes to reach the earth. Lig The Solar System The solar planets (Fig developed from the condensation of gases and other All the planets revolve. round the Sun Like the light of the sun which are sd to have been lesser bodie i orbits arth, they shine only The Sun t (10,800°F.). and million’F.) in the increases to 20 million’C. (36 The Solar System —t leap up in whirls of glowing flames lik ize, the Sun is almost unim the earth! janets, Mescur only 36 million miles away in eruption. In It is about 300,000 times as bi Amongst the nine is the smallest and closest to the sun Tethus completes its orbit in a much shorter space of time than does Earth, in_Mercury is only 88 days. Venus, twice the distance he sun Ii.is often cov- way from is the HeXT closest plane Earth’s_pw proximity in size, m sidered "as heir_close But no which ‘Qveight) and density parable to Ear has life and all the living things we other planet is in any way igs we see around us. Like many other planets, the Earth has a natural that revolves which ‘and is believed by satellite, the Moon, 238,900 miles away. astward around the Earth once The fourth planet hhas dark patches on its surface rom the sun is Mi most professional astronomers to be the next planet, after Earth to have the possibility of some plant fe, Much attention has been focused on Mars explore the possibilities of extending man’s influence 0 it, Next comes the largest planet in the ar system. Its surface is made up of many gases en, helium, and methane. Tt is dis- ts circular light ve satellites that circle ore than 48: shed dark bands, As itis planets by and the t ound i 7 million miles from ts surface is very cold (130°C). Sun and the nine Planets Another unique planet is which has three rings and nine satellites around it. In size, itis the second largest after Jupiter. It is so far from the Sun that it takes 297 years to complete its orbit The seveiith planet, was not known to astronomers until the late eighteenth century when giant plane 50 times larger than Earth and 15 times as heavy Unlike other planets, Uranus orbits around the sur ing clockwise direction from east to west with five The {wo outermost planets in the solar system Neptune and Ealeulations on their irregular gravitational effects on neighbouring plinetary bodies. close sembles Uranus, except that it has only wo know satellites_and is probably much colder. Pluto is smaller than Earth, As the orbits of the planets are not circular but elliptical, the distance of Pluto from the Sun during perihelion (ie. when it is closest to the Sun) is 2,766 million miles, and at aphelion (i.e, when it is farthest from the Sun) is 4.566 million miles. A year in is no less than 247 years on rth! Due to their very recent discovery and their xtreme remoteness from the earth. very little isso far known about these last two pla The Shape of the Earth in the olden days, sailors feared to venture far into se they thou a table, They t d the distant ocean be ne earth cached the edge of the earth, they would slip down and perish in the bottomless ocean. This is, of se, not true, From years of accumulated know experience and observations in different parts of the world, we know that the earth is round. Its established fact, pr by all. There has been so much research on earth science that its various dimen accurately found, It has an S~andiis_polar_c cumferenceis_tess_by 83_miles. Its equatorial diameter is 7,926 miles and its polar diameter is horter by il simply shows that, the earth is not a perfect sphere, It is a little flattened both ends like an orange. It can, in fact. be th-shaped’). The spherical shape Evidence of the Earth’s Sphericity There are many ways to prove that the earth i spherical. The following are some of them 1. Circum-navigation of the earth. ‘The first voyag around the world by Ferdinand Magellan and his he earth is spherical. No traveller going round the land or se ver encountered an abrupt edge, over which he would fall. Modern air routes and ocean navigation are based on the assumption Fig. 2 (a) Citcumnavigation of the earth (>) Abrupt drop at the edge of a tablesike earth horizon. The distant horizo a ship at sea, or from a cli on land is always and everywhere circular in shay. This circular horizon widens with increasing altiwud and could only be seen on a spherical t T illustrated in Fig 3. Ship's visibility. When a ship appe distant horizon, the top of the m he hull Increasing altitude widens the circular hor zon. Viewed from Y the horizon would be ‘AB but from a higher viewpoint (X) a wider horizon (C, D) would be seen Fig. 3 (a) of altitude. If the earth were flat the horizon seen from either Y or X would be dual. Ifthe earth were flat, the entire ship wot be seen or obscured all at once. This is appar from Fig. 4 the hull Fig. 4 (b) A flat earth, the entire ship is seen at once ona flat surface 4. Sunrise different time: rowates Tor sunset. The sun rises and sets. a in_differe s. AS ‘aish_ places. in-th the _earih sune jan those in the west. If the earth were flat, the whole world would have sunrise and sunset at_the same time. But we know this is not so Fig. 5 illustrates this.