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Sep 7

Astronomy 101: Solar System

September 7 @ 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM EDT

|Recurring Event (See all)

An event every week that begins at 7:00 PM on Wednesday, repeating indefinitely



Registration ($75) opens in early August.

A survey of astronomy. Introduces celestial events that ancients knew well that we can also observe and presents their modern explanations. Themes include the hierarchy of astronomy objects, distances in space, motions of the Earth and moon, the sun, stars and constellations, the Zodiac, the planets and other objects in the Solar System, the reason for the seasons. We’ll sketch the historical figures of western astronomy and the physics underlying orbits.

Wednesdays,  7 PM. Sept. 7, 14, 21, 28; Oct. 12, 19 via Zoom

Instructor- David Shepherd, active AAA member and observing-site coordinator.

Registrants receive web links to the Zoom “meetings” and the Google Classroom (GC) which is used for downloads and messaging.


September 7: Earth, stars, constellations

Distances, sizes, and hierarchy of objects in space. Rotation and revolution. Polaris, the North Star. Constellations. Precession.

September 14: Planets

Definition and overview of the planets. Orrery. Retrograde motion. Major and dwarf planets. The ecliptic and nebular hypothesis. The Zodiac. Thumbnail sketches of the major planets for independent study.

September 21: The moon

Phases. Eclipses. Tides. Changes in size of disks of sun and moon. Supermoon. Tidal locking. Earthshine. Moon illusion.

September 28: Seasons, Solar System inventory

Measurement units. Origin and “equation” for the seasons. Inventory of solar system. Details on asteroids, meteoroids, comets.

 October 12: Brief survey of historical figures and key physics

Ancient and persistent concepts of the world. Geocentric and heliocentric views. Copernicus, Brahe, Kepler, Galileo.

Newton’s three laws of motion and Law of Gravitation. Little “g” versus big “G”.

 October 19: The sun, our nearby star. Our Galaxy and its nebulae

Nuclear fusion- the sun’s energy source. Structure of sun and stars. Their delicate hydrostatic equilibrium.

The milky way, Milky Way Galaxy, and four types of nebulae in our night sky.                                                                                        These final topics preview those studied in Astronomy 102.

Early 2023,  “Astronomy 102: Stars, Galaxies, Cosmos.”- a sequel to this class.


September 7
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
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