IESO

Observational Astronomy Part 1

18-Apr-13

Foundations of Astronomy
Learning Goals
• Describe the Celestial Sphere and how astronomers use angular measurement to locate objects in the night sky.
• Account for the apparent motions of the Sun and the stars in terms of the actual motion of the Earth. Explain why our planet has seasons. • Understand the changing appearance of the Moon and how the relative motions of the Earth, the Sun, and the Moon lead to eclipses.

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The Earth's rotation axis is tilted with respect to its orbit around the Sun => seasons.

Summer
Scorpius
Night Day

Winter Sun high in northern sky Sun low in Day northern sky
Night

Orion

Tilt is 23.5o
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The Motion of the Moon
The Moon has a cycle of "phases", which lasts about 29 days.

Half of the Moon's surface is lit by the Sun.
During this cycle, we see different fractions of the sunlit side.

Which way is the Sun here?

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The Motion of the Moon

DEMO - Phases of the Moon

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Eclipses
Lunar Eclipse When the Earth passes directly between the Sun and the Moon.
Sun
Earth Moon

Solar Eclipse

When the Moon passes directly between the Sun and the Earth.
Sun
Moon Earth

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Solar Eclipses

Diamond ring effect - just before or after total Total

Partial Annular - why do these occur? 8

Lunar Eclipse

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Why don't we get eclipses every month?

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Moon's orbit tilted compared to Earth-Sun orbital plane:
Sun
Moon Earth

5.2o

Side view

Moon's orbit slightly elliptical:
Moon

Distance varies by ~12%
Earth

Top view, exaggerated ellipse

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Types of Solar Eclipses Explained

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Certain seasons are more likely to have eclipses. Solar “eclipse season” lasts about 38 days. Likely to get at least a partial eclipse somewhere.

It's worse than this! The plane of the Moon's orbit precesses, so that the eclipse season occurs about 19 days earlier each year.
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Recent and upcoming total and annular solar eclipses

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From Aristotle to Newton

The history of the Solar System (and the universe to some extent) from ancient Greek times through to the some extent) from ancient Greek times through to the beginnings of modern physics. beginnings of modern physics.

The history of the Solar System (and the universe to

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What time of day does the first quarter moon set?
A: 6am B: noon C: 6pm D: midnight E: Never sets

18-Apr-13

Who wasClicker the first person to use a telescope Question: to make astronomical discoveries?
A: Aristotle B: Brahe C: Kepler

D: Gallileo
E: Newton

18-Apr-13

Brainstorm: What is a model and how is it useful?

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"Geocentric Model" of the Solar System
Ancient Greek astronomers knew of Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Aristotle vs. Aristarchus (3rd century B.C.): Aristotle: Sun, Moon, Planets and Stars rotate around fixed Earth. Aristarchus: Used geometry of eclipses to show Sun bigger than Earth (and Moon smaller), so guessed that Earth orbits the Sun. Also guessed Earth spins on its axis once a day => apparent motion of stars. Aristotle: But there's no wind or parallax (apparent movement of stars). Difficulty with Aristotle's "Geocentric" model: "Retrograde motion of the planets".
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Planets generally move in one direction relative to the stars, but sometimes they appear to loop back. This is "retrograde motion".

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But if you support geocentric model, you must attribute retrograde motion to actual motions of planets, leading to loops called “epicycles”.

Ptolemy's geocentric model (A.D. 140)

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"Heliocentric" Model

Rediscovered by Copernicus in 16th century.
Put Sun at the center of everything.

Much simpler. Almost got rid of retrograde motion.

But orbits circular in his model. In reality, they’re elliptical, so it didn’t fit the data well.
● ●

Not generally accepted then.

Copernicus 1473-1543

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Illustration from Copernicus' work showing heliocentric model.

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Planets generally move in one direction relative to the stars, but sometimes they appear to loop back. This is "retrograde motion".

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Planets generally move in one direction relative to the stars, but sometimes they appear to loop back. This is "retrograde motion".

Apparent motion of Mars against "fixed" stars
July

Mars

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Earth
7

*
6
5 4 3 2 6

*
3 4 5

*
*

*

1

2

*
1
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January

Galileo (1564-1642)

Built his own telescope (1609). Discovered four moons orbiting Jupiter => Earth is not center of all things!

Co-discovered sunspots. Deduced Sun rotated on its axis.
Discovered phases of Venus, inconsistent with geocentric model.

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Kepler (1571-1630)

Used Tycho Brahe's precise data on apparent planet motions and relative distances. Deduced three laws of planetary motion.

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Kepler's First Law

The orbits of the planets are elliptical (not circular) with the Sun at one focus of the ellipse.

Ellipses distance between foci eccentricity = major axis length (flatness of ellipse)

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Kepler's Second Law
A line connecting the Sun and a planet sweeps out equal areas in equal times.

slower

faster

Translation: planets move faster when closer to the Sun.
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Kepler's Third Law
The square of a planet's orbital period is proportional to the cube of its semi-major axis. P2 is proportional to or P2  a3 (for circular orbits, a=b=radius). Translation: the larger a planet's orbit, the longer the period. a3 a b

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