What can we learn about the formation of our solar system by studying other stars? Explain.
Earlier in this chapter, we modeled the solar system with Earth at a distance of about one city block from the Sun. If you were to make a model of the distances in the solar system to match your height, with the Sun at the top of your head and Pluto at your feet, which planet would be near your waist? How far down would the zone of the terrestrial planets reach?
Seasons are a result of the inclination of a planet’s axial tilt being inclined from the normal of the planet’s orbital plane. For example, Earth has an axis tilt of 23.4° (Appendix F). Using information about just the inclination alone, which planets might you expect to have seasonal cycles similar to Earth, although different in duration because orbital periods around the Sun are different?
Again using Appendix F, which planet(s) might you expect not to have significant seasonal activity? Why?
Again using Appendix F, which planets might you expect to have extreme seasons? Why?
Using some of the astronomical resources in your college library or the Internet, find five names of features on each of three other worlds that are named after real people. In a sentence or two, describe each of these people and what contributions they made to the progress of science or human thought.
Explain why the planet Venus is differentiated, but asteroid Fraknoi, a very boring and small member of the asteroid belt, is not.
Would you expect as many impact craters per unit area on the surface of Venus as on the surface of Mars? Why or why not?
Interview a sample of 20 people who are not taking an astronomy class and ask them if they can name a living astronomer. What percentage of those interviewed were able to name one? Typically, the most publicly well-known living astronomer these days is Neil deGrasse Tyson. Why is he better known than most astronomers? How would your result have differed if you had asked the same people to name a movie star or a professional basketball player?
Using Appendix G, complete the following table that describes the characteristics of the Galilean moons of Jupiter, starting from Jupiter and moving outward in distance.
|Semimajor Axis (km3)
This system has often been described as a mini solar system. Why might this be so? If Jupiter were to represent the Sun and the Galilean moons represented planets, which moons could be considered more terrestrial in nature and which ones more like gas/ice giants? Why? (Hint: Use the values in your table to help explain your categorization.)