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Overview of the Universe

Astronomical Terminology
Scale of the Universe
Motion of Earth in the Universe
Tour of our Sky
The Cause of Seasons

Further Reading: The Essential Cosmic Perspective, Chapters 1 & 2


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Astronomical Terminology
Star

large, glowing ball of gas that


generates heat & light through
nuclear fusion

Planet

moderately large object orbiting a


star & shines by reflected light
own gravity makes it round
cleared its orbital path
may be rocky, icy, or gaseous in
composition
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Astronomical Terminology, contd


Moon

object orbiting a planet

Asteroid

relatively small & rocky object


orbiting a star

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Astronomical Terminology, contd


Comet

relatively small & icy object that


orbits a star

Nebula

an interstellar cloud of gas and/or


dust

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Astronomical Terminology, contd


Solar System

The Sun & all the


material that
orbits it, including
its planets &
moons

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Star System

star(s) & all the material that orbits


it, including its planets & moons

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How Large is the Solar System?

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How Large is the Solar System?


Earth

Jupiter

Sun

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Astronomical Terminology, contd

Galaxy

great island of stars in space, all held together by gravity &


orbiting a common center
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Milky Way Galaxy in our Sky

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Our Address in the Milky Way Galaxy

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Astronomical Terminology, contd

Universe

sum total of all matter & energy, i.e. everything within &
between all galaxies
origin of Universe explained by the Big Bang Theory
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Our Cosmic Address

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Our Cosmic Origin


Within a few billion years after the Big
Bang, gravity caused local concentrations of
matter to collapse into galaxies while the
universe continued to expand.
Galaxies like the
Milky Way act as
cosmic
recycling
plants. Stars are
made from material
in gas clouds & dust
within the galaxy.
Stars return material
to interstellar space
when they die.

The Universe has


been expanding since
its hot & dense
beginning in Big
Bang. Each of the 3
cubes represents the
same region of the
universe, which has
expanded with time.

A star forms at the center of a


collapsing cloud of gas & dust, &
planets may form in the spinning
disk surrounding the young star.

Massive stars explode


when they die, scattering
the
elements
they
produced into space.

EE8086 Astronomy: Stars, Galaxies & Cosmology

Stars shine with the energy


produced by the nuclear fusion in
their cores. The fusion also creates
heavier elements from lighter
ones.

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How Big is the Universe?


There are as many
stars in the
observable universe
as there are grains of
dry sand on all the
beaches on Earth.
Observable universe
is ~13.9b light-years.
Definition of a light-year:

the distance traveled by light in one year


unit for distance, not time!
corresponds to ~10 trillion km
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Our Lifetimes compared to the Age of the Universe


The universe is ~13.9b years
old.
On a cosmic calendar:

entire history of the universe


compressed into 1 year
solar system forms in early Sep
life on Earth started by late Sep
dinosaurs appeared on 26-Dec
& became extinct on 30-Dec
On 31-Dec:
human evolve @9pm
modern human @11:58pm
human civilization only occupy
the last half-min
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Spaceship Earth
The Earth
rotates around
its axis once
every day.

Contrary to our perception, we are not sitting still.

we are moving with the Earth in several ways & at surprisingly


fast speeds!
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Earths Motion in the Solar System


The Earth orbits
around the Sun
once every year.

Earth is racing around the Sun.

Earth is at an average distance of 150m km from the Sun


Earths axis tilted by 23.5 (pointing to Polaris)
orbits around the Sun in the same direction as its rotation
counter-clockwise as viewed from above the North pole
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Earths Motion in the Solar System, contd

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Solar Systems Motion in the Milky Way Galaxy


The Solar System is racing around the Milky Way Galaxy.

the Sun moves randomly relative to other nearby stars at typical


speed of more than 70,000 km/hr

the Sun orbits the


galactic center
once every 230m
years at speed of
800,000 km/hr

The Solar System orbits


the galactic center once
every 230m years.
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Milky Way Galaxys Motion in the Universe

The Universe is expanding.

galaxies are carried along with the expansion & are generally
moving away from each other (like expanding raisin cake)
those in Local Group can move towards or away from us, e.g.
Milky Way moving towards Andromeda @ 300,000 km/hr
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Summary of Earths Motion in the Universe

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Patterns in the Night Sky

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Constellations
A constellation is a
region of the sky.

defined in 1928 by
the International
Astronomical
Union
often recognizable
by a pattern or
grouping of stars
total of 88 official
constellations, most
names come from
antiquity
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Star Charts
Planisphere

make your own at


http://www3.ntu.edu.sg/eee/eee6/astroclub/articles.asp

Planetarium software (PC)

http://www.stellarium.org/ (free open source )

Planetarium for mobile phones (Java-Enabled)

http://mobilestarchart.sourceforge.net/

Satellite Observations
http://www.caski.com/cs.cgi
http://www.skysatellite.com

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The Celestial Sphere


The sky above us looks like
a dome (hemisphere).

celestial sphere =
lower + upper half of
the dome
we see half the sphere
at any moment

All stars appear to lie


on the celestial sphere.

we lack the depth


perception when looking into space, as the stars are too far
away

The patterns of stars have no physical significance!

stars that appear close together may lie at different distances


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Model of the Celestial Sphere


The idea of a celestial sphere is used to map the sky.

shows how stars are


arranged in the sky

This is a 2-D
representation of the sky
as viewed from Earth.

Earth is placed in the


center of the sphere

Special points & circles:

north & south celestial


poles
celestial equator
ecliptic
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The Local Sky

Our local sky appears


to take the shape of a
hemisphere define
location of a star by
its altitude &
azimuth.

zenith : point directly overhead


horizon : boundary between Earth & sky (90 from zenith)
meridian : line from northern to southern horizon through zenith
azimuth : angle direction along horizon, clockwise from due north
altitude : angle above the horizon
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Review: Coordinates on Earth


Latitude: position north or
south of equator

Singapore: 122 N

Longitude: position east or


west of prime meridian
(Greenwich, England)

Singapore: 10348 E
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Measuring Size & Distance in the Sky

True sizes or separations of objects in the sky cannot be


determined due to lack of depth perception

describe using angular size & angular separation instead


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Handy Sky Measures

each arcminute
subdivided into
60 arcseconds

For more
precise
astronomical
measurement:
each degree
subdivided into
60 arcminutes
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Daily Motion of Celestial Objects in the Sky


Earth rotates from west to east.

celestial sphere appears to rotate around us from east to west


Stars make daily circles around the celestial poles

Stars at the north or south


celestial poles will appear
stationary.

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Northern Hemisphere View


Stars near north
celestial pole (at
angle less than A
from celestial pole)

do not rise or set,


but remain above
the horizon
circumpolar star
Stars near south
celestial pole never
rise above horizon.
Other stars (& Sun, Moon, planets) generally
have daily circles partly above & below horizon.

appear to rise in the east & set in the west


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Southern Hemisphere View


Similarly, stars near south
celestial pole do not rise
or set, but remain above
the horizon
circumpolar star
Stars near north celestial
pole never rise above
horizon.
Other stars (& Sun,
Moon, planets) generally appear to
rise in the east & set in the west.
If you stand at the poles, nothing rises or sets.
If you stand at the equator, everything rises & sets 90 to the horizon.
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What Constellations can you see?


It depends on your latitude & time of the year.

due to rotation & orbit of Earth

Variation with Latitude

The constellations you see depend on your latitude but not longitude.
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Northern Hemisphere

Southern Hemisphere

Daily circles CCW looking north, CW looking south


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Variation with Time of Year

As the Earth orbits the Sun, the Sun appears to move eastward along
the ecliptic with respect to the stars.
Constellations along the ecliptic make up the zodiac.
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How Long is a Day?

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The Seasons

Four Special Moments in the Year


Summer Solstice (21 June)

when the northern hemisphere receives its most direct sunlight

Winter Solstice (21 December)

when the northern hemisphere receives its least direct sunlight

Spring Equinox (21 March)

when northern hemisphere just starts to tip towards the Sun

Fall Equinox (22 September)

when northern hemisphere just starts to tip away from the Sun
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What causes the Seasons?

Earths axis tilted at 23.5 from normal to ecliptic plane.

celestial equator tilted at 23.5 to the ecliptic plane

The Sun spends 6 months north & south of the celestial


equator in a year.
Seasons are caused by Earths axis tilt & not the distance
from the Earth to the Sun!
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Summer in the Northern Hemisphere

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Why Distance is not the cause of Seasons?


Variation of Sun-Earth distance is only about 3%.

small variation overwhelmed by effects of axis tilt


However distance does matter for some other planets, notably
Mars and Pluto

Seasons are more extreme in the northern hemisphere.

due to more land, less ocean

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Seasonal Change in the Suns Path


Days are longer &
warmer in summer.
In winter, days are
shorter & cooler.

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Seasonal Change in the Suns Path, contd

Northern
Hemisphere

Equator

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Seasonal Change in the Suns Altitude


Photograph taken at
8~10 day intervals
over a year.

Summer
solstice
Equinoxes

Winter
solstice
North

Sun rising on 3 particular days

same place & time

Figure 8
observed due to the
combination of
Earths axis tilt &
varying speed as it
orbits the Sun.

South

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Suns Path in the Arctic Circle

Latitude at 663344 N of the equator.


On summer solstice, the Sun does not set but skims the
northern horizon at midnight.
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Earth's Precession
The direction of Earths rotation axis is
not fixed in space but executes a slow
precession (like a top) with a period of
26,000 years.
axis currently pointed at Polaris
13,000 years later: axis will point to
Vega (within a few degree)

Amount of axis tilt stays close to 23.5.


pattern of season not affected
positions of solstices & equinoxes in
Earths orbit gradually shift with cycle
of precession

Precession due to gravitys effect on


a tilted, rotating object that is not a
perfect sphere.
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The Moon, Our Constant Companion


The Moon is the
brightest & most
noticeable object
in our sky.

orbits the Earth


in 271/3 days
rise in the east &
sets in the west
appears to move
eastward from
night to night

You can also see


it in the day!
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Phases of the Moon


Half the Moon is illuminated by the Sun.

we see a
combination
of the bright &
dark faces

The phase of
the Moon
depends on its
position relative
to the Sun as it
orbits Earth.

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Phases of the Moon, contd


Each complete cycle of phases takes about 291/2 days.

from one new moon to another


~2 days longer than Moons orbital period of 271/3 days
due to Earths motion around the Sun during the time the Moon
is orbiting around Earth
new
crescent
first quarter
gibbous
full
gibbous
third quarter
crescent

}
}

Waxing means increasing


Moon visible in afternoon/ evening
gets fuller & rises later each day

Waning means decreasing


Moon visible in late night/morning
gets less and sets later each day

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Eclipses

Earth & Moon cast shadows.


When one passes through the others shadow, we have an
eclipse.
Two types of eclipses:

Lunar Eclipse Earth is between Sun & Moon


Solar Eclipse Moon is between Sun & Earth
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Conditions for Eclipses

Moons orbit is inclined at 5 to the ecliptic plane.

we do not get a lunar & a solar eclipse every month (~twice/year)!


Moon only crosses the ecliptic plane at 2 nodes
eclipse possible only when full or new moon occurs near nodes
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Solar Eclipses
You will see it when you
are in Moons shadow.
There are three types of
solar eclipses.

Total solar eclipse


within umbra
Partial solar eclipse
within penumbra
Annular solar eclipse
Moon is relatively further
away & its umbral
shadow does not reach
Earth
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Progression of a Total Solar Eclipse

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Lunar Eclipses
Lunar eclipse begins
when the Moon enters
Earths penumbra.
After that, one of the 3
types of lunar eclipse
can be seen:

penumbral lunar eclipse


Moon only passes
through penumbra
partial lunar eclipse
part of full moon passes
through umbra
total lunar eclipse
Moon passes entirely
through umbra
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Predicting Eclipses

Moons node slowly move around its orbit around Earth.

eclipse do not occur every 6 months

Eclipses recur in the ~18 years 111/3 days Saros Cycle.

same relative geometry & a nearly identical eclipse


but type (partial or total) & location may vary
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Planets in Our Sky


Five planets easy to find with the
naked eye (all looked like stars):
Mercury difficult to see,
always close to Sun
Venus very bright when
visible, morning or evening
star
Mars noticeably red
Jupiter very bright
Saturn moderately bright
In a particular night, planets rise
in the east & set in the west like
stars.
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Apparent Retrograde Motion of Planets


Planets usually move
eastward from night
to night relative to
the stars.
Sometimes they go
westward for a few
weeks or months:
apparent retrograde
motion

easily explained by a
Sun-centered solar
system

Composite of 29 photos of Mars from Jun03 to


Nov03 showing apparent retrograde motion.

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