Archive for February 2011

Week 2 – Gravity / Our Solar System / Research Project   Leave a comment

Welcome to the Second Week

This week we are looking at: what is gravity and how it depends on both mass and distance, the movement of the Earth and planets in the Solar System, and finally we are looking at Topic Selection for your Research Projects.

Solar System

One of the concepts I find most important when learning about the Solar System is the movement of the Earth.  It is well established that it is the Earth that is moving around the Sun, not the other way round (you all know this of course, ahum!).  It is well established that the stars are not moving around the Earth either… but every night we see the same illusion which keeps telling our brains that it is the Sun and the stars that are moving, NOT US!

Here are two videos that should be watched one after the other.  The first is simply a beautiful timelapse video of the night sky, the second video has changed the first so that the stars stay still and the Earth itself moves!

Research Project – Topic Selection

You will be doing a major written assignment in the form of a research project.
What I want you to show me is that you have gone to many (about 10) different sources of information, that you have read the information, understood it, and rewritten it in your own words in a way that makes it apply to your topic.
The main guidelines for this project are that it must be astronomy related and it must be a fact-vs-fiction piece.

Some examples of topics:
1 – The Zodiac – Can the position of the stars and planets influence us emotionally and physically? – Not Allowed, I consider this an extremely difficult topic for the time and level of this course.  It has been attempted several times and not once has the student managed to do a thorough evaluation of the facts and fictions involved.
2 – Was the Moon Landing a Hoax? – Not Allowed.  There are many ideas of how this could have been a hoax but it is not possible for a student to do a thorough investigative piece on this work.
3 – The Aurora Borealis – What are the facts about this phenomena and what are the myths? – Excellent Topic.  This topic is very interesting, it is straightforward, and it has rich literature in terms of fact and in terms of fiction.
4 – Does Life Exist on Another Planet? – Good Topic.  There is a lot of science fiction literature about life on other planets; you can look at some of that literature and compare it to some of the facts that we know about what conditions may be required for life to exist on another planet.  Note that I am not talking about human life on another planet, I am referring to life forms being able to exist on another planet.
5 – Is there water on the Moon?  – Good Topic.  The possibility that water exists on the Moon has been looked at in terms of science fiction as well as with present-day science missions.  Plenty of information to compare here.
6 – Your own Topic – EXCELLENT TOPICFind a topic that interests you, contact me about it and work on it with interest!



Posted February 1, 2011 by brunoplim in Astronomy, solar system, Uncategorized

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