Monday, November 29, 2010

Art and Astronomy
This image is stunning... I have it as my desktop now. xD OH NO I might be an astronomy nerd soon! ;)

Moby's We Are All Made of Stars is a nice song. It's not incredible, but it is good enough to write a couple hundred words on. It starts by eluding to the population of the world... “growing in numbers, growing in speed, can't fight the future, can't fight what I see.” People come together and grow apart, but we as a people can't be stopped from reaching our goals. We're all made of the same materials, so why should we be treated differently? It's a song that speaks about the world in very broad strokes. The people in it, the people closest to us, and the people we don't even know, and the similarities we all have. We're similar not just in material, but in goal. When people look at the stars, they see the same thing as everyone else in that region. Nothing is different. They still stare in wonder and know that they aren't actually that insignificant. When I look at the stars, I don't think that I'm insignificant.. I am belittled only by myself, and I think I'm a extraordinary creature that was a miracle of time, space, materials, and the right temperature and pressure and all those other factors. LIFE is a chance, and to be living.. that makes a human more important than a star. Even if we're made of the same materials, as far as we know, stars don't comprehend things. We speak, think, grow, change.. all independently from the rest of the world (and worlds). Stars influence the arts in extreme ways. They inspire, they humble, and they give us as humans a chance to imagine what it would be like out there. I'll always be a daydreamer and hope that one day I'd be able to see the stars without an atmosphere blocking the way, but I doubt that is going to happen.


Class Reflection

Class Reflection

a) 8.5 out of 21? Ooooh my goodness! That's dreadful!I didn't know most the material... I can't access the questions, I guess I'll go back and look at it when it's up.

b) Most educational: Moon Phase lab, the APODS, the satellite lab (the questions on that were awesome!), the stellar evolution project was great, and the spectra labs were pretty good too. Even if they were challenging, they helped to cohere the ideas together.

Some of them, like the Cepheid yardstick one, were just sort of “plug and chug” things and didn't really help to solidify ideas, but did help in the math department. I would assume that the scientific methods lab would be really useful for beginning students, but it didn't help that much for me.

Math: The way it was presented was just fine. I think that there should be more samples of questions to follow though... some people learn best through example, so either going through them in class or making diagrams with explanations would be REALLY useful.

Lectures: Sometimes, there would be times when a presentation was being presented, then something would come up and it would be addressed as “something we'll cover later”, then it wouldn't get covered, or we wouldn't remember what it was tied to in the beginning. Explaining those sorts of things AS they come up would be nice, but maybe with some more elaboration later.

Powerpoints: VERY useful with diagrams! I never looked back on them for the test prep, but I'm sure they would be really useful too. Organized pretty well, but sometimes they would go by too quickly to take notes on (but that's just a personal problem. XD I like to fully organize my thoughts and stuff as I take notes).

Textbook: To tell the truth, I didn't read much of the textbook, but what I did read was pretty good. I wish the math had been presented more completely, but other than that, no complaints. The text is pretty easy to understand and follow.

Assessments: Would this be tests? Or the reflections? As far as tests go, there would be questions that would be really obscure and such, but those were always given as extra credit. XD I like the writing questions the best because multiple choice questions make me second-quess myself.

Sky Journal Reflection

Sky Journal Reflection

I don't recall any goals for myself, but I do remember wanting to see where constellations were in the sky. Although I have learned where several are, I haven't been able to pick them out in reality. I just know the general AREA. XD Like Cassiopeia, Andromeda, and Ursa Minor. I now know how to describe where things are, using both the celestial sphere (right ascension and declination) and the observer-based system with altitude and azimuth. : ) I do feel more knowledgeable when it comes to understanding science-fiction movies.. even if it's only a bit, it helps! I watch movies and read it a lot of science fiction. Too much, sometimes. I hope that humanity can get it together and not go to war and instead invest money in the space program. XD A nice reason for having peace, right?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Week 10 Sky Journal

So I went out to my driveway and turned off all the house lights and such, and I couldn't see that many stars. XD It was about 8:00 at night, and I could see the normal brighter ones, like the stars of Cassiopeia, but I couldn't find the moon. o.o At first I thought it was just too low on the horizon for me to see (my house has a lot of trees), but then I realized it could be a new moon so the light wasn't really strong enough for me to see it. So I checked google for the current moon phase, and sure enough, it was a new moon. Kinda fun cuz I thought I'd lost the moon. That wouldn't have been to fun.

On another note, I did remember something that I saw 2 summers ago... I stayed out until about 3:00 in the morning at one of my best friend's houses. He lives out in Lyman, so there was no light pollution at all... the sky looked completely filled with stars and I saw at least 12 meteors. It was really magical... until my mom called me and told me to get home. I think I'll always remember that, though.. it was one of those philosophical discussions mixed with awe and wonder at the universe.

Week 10 Reflection

Wow! I really can't believe this next week is basically the last week of school... the more I'm in school, the faster it goes.
Some of the material so far (like some of the math, as usual) has been a little ouchy in the brain department, but the rest is easy enough. I've been working on my study guide throughout the week for the final and the unit 4 test. I don't feel confident with the material yet, but I will soon enough- as usual, I need to just spend more time with it and make concept maps and such to link ideas together (the universe concept map helped a lot).

Friday, November 19, 2010

Week 9 Reflection

This chapter is going by pretty smoothly. Researching on my own is really useful, and I think that's why I've been consistently doing (pretty) well on the tests so far. The study guides + answering all the questions on the study guides + writing everything in my own words so I understand the concepts = good scores. But, that aside, I do need to study the days before the test too, not just the day before. I haven't been having much difficulty with any of the concepts so far.

Week 9 Sky Journal

The sunset was really warmly-colored today, and it was really really cold.. not sure if those two factors are related, but it was kind of interesting to me. I didn't notice the position of the sun in the sky, so I'll go back out there tonight and check out the moon. Just commenting on the color of the sun today. : ) It was REALLY REALLY yellow. And orangey. And bright.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Dark Matter Possibilities

1. HOT DARK MATTER - Neutrinos (3 types- electron-, muon-, and tau-neutrinos).
2. Characteristics: 1) found everywhere 2) 100,000 times less mass than an electron- incredibly tiny. 3) They are just there... they exist with other ones, usually around places that would have hot dark matter, but are not bound to certain places. They are made through nuclear fusion and can be very common in supernovas and emission from stars. 4) They move too quickly to be pulled into an individual galaxy, but heavy neutrinos might be able to affect larger structures like galaxy superclusters. 5) They contribute to dark matter because they are incredibly difficult to detect, but we know that they are produced through nuclear fusion, which occurs in pretty much every star out there, which means there are literally millions and millions of neutrinos out there, explaining some of the mysterious mass we call dark matter. 6) Instruments with vacuums deep within the ground are built to detect the teeny-tiny particles, but even then, very few neutrinos are detected. An example of such an instrument: the DRIFT-I detector. They're virtually indetectable otherwise.

Neutrinos are classified as WILPs (weakly-interacting, light particles), and are a type of HOT dark matter. They travel at ultra-relativistic velocities, meaning they travel incredibly close to the speed of light. They have a mass of 100,000 times less than an electron, and they only interact with regular matter through the "weak nuclear force", a force that requires no contact and is incredibly weak, involving radioactivity and the emission of particles by neutrons/protons in an atomic nucleus.

REFLECTION: Wow! Just knowing how tiny these particles are can open up millions of possibilities. Space probably isn't as empty as we thought if there are particles THAT hard to detect... oh gosh, I wish I could live until I choose to die so I could see what people discover. Maybe I'd even get to go to space. Or to another planet. Or even another galaxy (I wish).

Research Article on WIMPS and other Dark Matter

Research Article

1) It is set up as any other scientific experiment data would be: an abstract, an introduction, then the method, then the data/results, then any conclusions that were drawn.
2) The abstract is sort of a preview of what the experiment covers, providing background information of the subject and a very general overview.
3) Data collected included amounts of WIMPS detected in the underground contraption that detects them, the DRIFT-I detector. The DRIFT-I is a vacuum that is specifically designed to detect neutrinos and other WIMPS, with customized settings for different particles, even detecting the direction from which the neutrinos are coming using electron avalanches to amplify the movement of them.
4) These amounts of "events" (times neutrinos were detected) averaged out to a very scattered "less than one event per kg of target" per day. The conclusion? The DRIFT-I detector was a success at directional sensitivity, their original goal.
5) At first, the scientists thought that it would be possible to construct such a machine to detect even the direction of a neutrino, so they calculated various factors such as the earth/sun rotation and their relation to neutrino motion, and then discovered a method to amplify that movement. This led to a hypothesis- then the implementation of the ideas into the machine. Tests were made, data was collected, and the experiment was proven a success.

REFLECTION: This pertains to the class because it's talking about dark matter and the sensitivity of some devices meant to detect what is thought to be dark matter, like neutrinos. The article was kind of hard to understand because of all the lingo, but looking some stuff up and trying to extrapolate helped a little. XD

Galaxy Sort/Weighing a Galaxy


By Appearance:
Group 1: Leo 1, Large Megellanic Cloud
Group 2: M51, NGC 6946, M101
Group 3: Arp 252, NGC 1365
Group 4: M65, M81, M109
Group 5: NGC 4650a, NGC 253, M104, NGC 4565
Group 6: M32, M87, M59
Group 7: NGC 1073, M82, NGC 2146

By Actual Category:
Elliptical Galaxies: M59, M32, M87,
Starburst Galaxies: M82, NGC 253
Dwarf Galaxy: Leo 1
Spiral Galaxies: M51, NGC 6946, M101, M65, M81, M104, NGC 4565
Barred Spiral Galaxies: M109, NGC 1365, NGC 1073, NGC 2146
Irregular Galaxy: LMC (Large Megellanic Cloud)
Interacting Galaxy Pair: Arp 252
Ring Galaxy: NGC4650a

Reflection: Sorting galaxies can be tough... if you go by color, size, shape, makeup, other characteristics.. it just depends on what you arbitrarily choose. We went through them and divided them based on appearance, then later went back and actually looked up what each of the galaxy types were, coming up with the second list. Classification is a good tool in science, and this is no different. Knowing what a type of galaxy is can give us clues as to how it's going to react/chance/evolve (etc).


1. Apply this equation to three of the planets in our solar system, given in the table below.
Mass of Earth: 200kg
Mass of Jupiter: 200kg
Mass of Neptune: 196 kg

The masses are all relatively the same.
The mass of the sun would be about 200kg too?

2. DISTANCE: 5.0 - 1.55 x 10^17 km VELOCITY: 95.0 km/s MASS: 2,097,263,869 kg mass.
DISTANCE: 10.0 - 3.1 x 10^17 km VELOCITY: 110.0 km/s MASS: 5,623,688,156 kg mass.
DISTANCE: 15.0 - 4.65 x 10^17 km VELOCITY: 110.0 km/s MASS: 8,435,531,134 kg mass.

What do you notice about the values of the mass as the distance increases?
They get considerably larger.

Can you explain this?
Distance is directly related to mass.

What would you conclude the mass of the galaxy to be?
More than 1,000 solar units.

How much more massive is this galaxy than our sun?
A lot more - not even comparable. See above answer.

Reflection: I wouldn't call this one of the most useful labs, but it does help in clarifying how scientists go about their estimates of distance/mass/etc. I'd say math is neccessary for the survival of science. xD I appreciate math. A lot more.

M100 - Messier Object Research

M100 is a spiral galaxy about 60,000 klys away from earth, located at 12 hours and +15 degrees in the celestial sphere, right in the Virgo cluster. It is in the southern part of Coma Berenices and is most visible in May, around 9pm. This galaxy, also referred to as NCG 4321 (but does not have a common name), is a galaxy that faces us head-on, showing a spiral of bluish arms, indicating that the galaxy is pretty young. The shape of the galaxy is slightly unbalanced, indicating that there could be interactions with nearby galaxies. The galaxy is about 160,000 light years across and was discovered by Pierre Mechain in 1781. It has one satellite galaxy, NGC 4323, within it. The apparent magnitude of M100 is 9.3. The Hubble Space Telescope has imaged this galaxy a lot, which led to the discovery of cepheids about 56 million light years away, which helped to determine how far away M100 is. A standard telescope or some good astronomic binoculars are required to see it. It has five discovered supernovas, one discovered as early as 1901, and the most recent in 2006.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Week 8 Reflection

Whoo! A test already... I'm not too solid on the math, but I will do my best to suffer through it. The rest of it, though, isn't too bad... mostly just vocabulary and linking ideas together. Three more weeks of school then finals...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Homework Ch 10-13

1. 76.92 parsecs

3. a) 3.35 x 10^28

4. Star A: 4 x 10^12, Star B: 3.8 x 10^13

8. 316 parsecs

10. The greater the mass, the greater the lifespan.. brighter the star, the shorter it will be.

1. How many times brighter is: a 5th magnitude than a 10th magnitude: 100 times.
2. 7th than 17th: 10,000 (10... so 100 x 100)
3. 3rd than 5th: 2.5 x 2.5 = 6.25 times
4. 3rd than 6.5th: 19.5 apprx
5. 12th than 22.5: 125 times
6. What is the magnitude of the star if it is 100 times dimmer than a 12th? 22nd magnitude star
7. 10,000 times brighter than 12th mag: -8 magnitude (-20)

Week 8 Sky Journal

Wednesday night I drove to my sisters at about 7:30. The moon was pretty high already, about 35 or 40 degrees altitude and 200 degrees azimuth. It was about an 1/8 of the way full, a lovely little crescent. I could see some stars too, but since I was driving I couldn't really check them out that well. I think I'll do this entry in two parts and come back tonight and add some stars I've seen, if the night sky is clear enough. : )

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cepheid Yardstick Lab

1. Click on the image to make it larger. : )

2. The higher the apparent the magnitude, the shorter the period.
3. Between 15.70 and 15.9
4. -3.11| (5-5log(265) = -7.11, +4 = -3.11) = absolute magnitude of delta-Cephei
5. 60,534 parsecs. (15.8 - (-3.11) + 5 ) / 5 = 4.782, 10^4.782 = 60,534
6. It's only off by 500 parsecs.. haha. : D I'm sure I estimated poorly on the magnitude, and the other data could have variances, but it came close enough.


This applies to the current chapters because of the distance calculations, magnitude problems, and all that other good stuff. The "standard candle" thing is also an important concept to grasp, considering that they help determine the hardest to determine part of a star: the distance it is away from us. The math in the lab was mostly done for us, which was nice, but it did take me a few tries to sort out WHICH numbers to plug in. I wish the stars had more distinct names or something. I should have given them nicknames so I wouldn't get messed up.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Weekly Reflection 7

This chapter isn't going too horribly, thank goodness. I don't have much to say regarding what I'm having difficulty in... the HR diagram and all that is a still a little fuzzy, but I'll be fine come test time. Only 3 or 4 more weeks left, right? : ) Not too bad.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sky Journal Week 7

It's actually clear out tonight! I'm wearing my incredibly warm and soft new blanket to sit outside in my driveway and look at the stars. All the lights are off, and it's just me and them.
I'm still bad at picking out constellations without my droid, but I could see Cassiopeia, the north star, and one of the dippers.

The moon was pretty much a new moon... tiny sliver.

Stellar Evolution APOD

See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.

This is an image of presumed black hole taken with x-rays. It's incredibly bright and is found in constellation of the Swan Cygnus. The bright blue to the left is a star, with an estimated 30 times the mass of our sun. Apparently, this candidate for a black hole was formed without a supernova, so astronomers aren't sure if it actually IS a black hole. The picture above is an artist's interpretation of the system, but it based off of the viewable processes occuring in the system. It is viewable with a regular telescope, but not with this detail.

Black holes have incredibly strong gravitational pulls and are only viewable from the movement of celestial things around it. They don't reflect any light so they appear to be solid and black, even though they are made, essentially, of nothingness. They also radiate, and the temperature goes down as the mass of the black hole goes up, so it's nearly impossible to detect radiation from black holes born of stellar mass. Astronomers spectate that at the center of the Milky Way galaxy a supermassive black hole is pulling everything to itself. Since black holes have no viewable surface, the point where any event on the other side is not viewable to the observer is called the "event horizon". No light or matter emitted beyond the horizon is viewable past the event horizon.

We've been studying the evolution of stars, and this APOD is very much in that line of study. I'd say it's a prime example of the fact that astronomers really aren't sure about a lot of stuff, but in the long run it doesn't matter (but it is interesting and neccessary for feeding curious minds), because we probably aren't going to get sucked into the candidate any time soon.

Sagittarius Constellation Research

Sagittarius is a constellation of the zodiac, one of the 13 constellations that are blocked out by the sun at a certain time of the year, namely summer. The sun covers it during later November through December, and is visible at our latitude during the month of August, around 9pm. It is at 19 hours ascension and -25 degrees declination. Sagittarius is one of the gateways into the center of the galaxy- the milky way is the densest as it is seen through the constellation. It also has 3 nebulae- the Omega (Swan or Horseshoe nebula) nebula, the Trifid Nebula, and the Lagoon Nebula. There is also a possible black hole somewhere around there as well.

Sagittarius comes from the Greek mythology of an centaur archer- the name is “archer” in Latin: the Babylonians though Sagittarius to be the god Pabilsag, an archer, shaped like a centaur-like creature. In many images of this beast, it has 2 heads, wings, one human head and one panther head, a horse tail, AND a scorpion tail. The Babylonian name comes from “Pabil” and “Sag”, names that elude to “chief ancestor” in meaning. In greek mythology, it is just a centaur- a half-man, half-horse beast. It is said that Sagittarius used to be a centaur at some point but then changed himself into a horse in order to escape a jealous wife. The “arrow” of the constellation points toward the heart of the scorption, or the star “Antares”.

It has 9 bright stars, but only 6 will be discussed. Delta Sagittari, which is 306 light years from earth and has an apparent magnitude of +2.72, has a spectral type of K3. Zeta Sagittari has a spectral class of A2 and an apparent magnitude of +3.26 and is about 90 light years from Earth. Phi Sagittari is a spectral type B8 star with an apparent magnitude of +3.17 and is about 231 light years away from Earth. Lambda Sagittari (also called Kaus Borealis) has a spectral class of K, is 77 light years away from Earth, and has an apparent magnitude of +2.82. Gamma Sagittari has a spectral type of K and is about 95 light years from earth, with an apparent magnitude of +2.98. Epsilon is a binary star that has an apparent magnitude of 1.79, and it resides 145 light years away with a spectral type of B9.5. Epsilon also has a smaller neighbor star called Epsilon Sagittarii B, with a very feint magnitude.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sky Journal Week 6

I'm in bed as I type this. i just used google sky again, and noticed that at the zenith from where i am that Andromeda is right up there above my head. Kinda cool, seeing what I could be seeing if it were a clear night and I could get rid of the roof of my house.

Weekly Reflection 6

I can't believe it's already week 7! Amazing. xD

I'm still struggling with the HR diagram, but I think I'm just going to sit down and write down the concepts like "redder = hotter", etc, that sort of thing. Last week was pretty good- the test went well, and I feel comfortable with last chapter's material, mostly. : )

Cluster Color/Magnitude and Age of Stars Lab

I THINK you can click on the image to make it larger, but here it is... in Excel. : D Good idea. (I added the pinkness to make it pretty.)

1. Done. :D
2. Clusters are sometimes in the same plane, or the same distance away, so its easier to group them by their APPARENT brightness to compare them.

I THINK. XD I really don't know.. I tried to apply stuff, but I could be wrong. Brighter, yes, but have more red/less heat?

4. M45, right? : ) They're overall more bright.
5. M45 is brighter, and therefore younger. It's between a couple thousand years and a couple million years old (the color thing is at the bottom of this chart...) The higher the color index, the less bright the star is. 47 Tuc is about a million or a couple hundred million years old.

6. Because the clusters aren't in the right place?

REFLECTION: Some of the theoretical and "logic-based" questions are still challenging, like number 6.. I pretty much just guessed and have no idea. I could come up with other guesses, but I don't know if they'd be any better.

APPLICATION: We're learning all about classifying stars- this is just another exercise in solidifying some of the types of stars there are. Although its similar to the HR diagram, the arrangement and the criteria used to categorize the stars are different.

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