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Lecture 6

Astronomy Week 6 Readings: 7.1

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Astronomy & Astrophysics
Michael Reid

Astronomy Week 5 Readings 10/15/2012 6:37:00 PM 7: Our Planetary System 7.1 Studying the Solar System What does the solar system look like?  Solar system is not a random collection of worlds, but a system that exhibits may clear patterns  All planets orbit the Sun in the same direction and in nearly the same plane  Pluto is smaller than the major planets and has a more elliptical orbit What can we learn by comparing the planets to one another?  Comparative Planetology o = comparing worlds to one another and seeking to understand their similarities and diff  This reveals patterns among them, which then provide insights that help us understand our own planet o Stay focused on processes common to multiple worlds instead of individual facts specific to a particular world The Sun  Largest/brightest in our solar systems, consisting of 99.8% if its mass  Made mostly of Hydrogen and Helium gas (plasma) o Converts 4 mil tons of mass into energy each second  Sun’s gravity governs planets  Primary source of temperature and light Mercury  Innermost planet, smallest  Made of metal and rock w/large iron core  Desolate, cratered w/long, tall, steep cliffs  Very cold and very cold b/c of closeness to Sun o No active volcanoes, no wind, no air, no rain, no life Venus  Nearly identical in size to Earth  Surface is hidden by clouds  Hell resembling conditions due to extreme greenhouse effect: o Every hotter than Mercury: 470 degrees C day and night  Has mou
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