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Chapter Six Review: Solar System

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Brian Wilson

st October 1 , 2010 ASTA01H Intro to Astronomy and Astro Part I Chapter Six: The Solar System An Inventory of the Solar System Discovering our Planetary System The invention of the telescope, in the 17 century, made it possible for astronomers to observe the heavens in more detail, leading to the findings of the other planets that make up our solar system o As, they were now able to see objects invisible to the naked eye The 20 century saw the rise of: o Non-optical observing aids: Radio Infrared o Improvements in telescopes which led to the observation of continuously smaller objects (such as asteroids) o Spacecraft exploration o As well as space flight, manned missions to the Moon As currently explored, our solar system contains: o The Sun o Eight planets o 166 moons o Eight asteroids and more than 100 Kuiper Belt objects larger than 300 km in diameter o Tens of thousands of smaller asteroids and Kuiper Belt objects o Myriad comets a few kilometers in diameter www.notesolution.comComparative Planetology Comparative planetology: The powerful perspective of comparing and contrasting the properties of the various worlds we encounter to understand better the conditions under which the planets form and evolve o This is the start of developing a comprehensive theory of the origin and evolution of our planetary system a theory that explains all, or at least most, of the solar systems observed properties Through the discovery of other planets in the universe (mostly in our galaxy) astronomers have a whole new set of proving grounds in which to compare theory and reality Measuring the Planets The Sun contains about 99.9% of all mass in our solar system Here is a brief summary of the properties of some of the objects in our solar system o The distance from each planet from the Sun is known from Keplers law once the scale of the solar system was set by radar ranging on Venus o A planets sidereal orbital period (relative to the stars) can be measured from repeated observations of its location on the sky, so long as Earths own motion around the Sun is properly taken into account o A planets radius is found by measuring the angular size of the planet the from one side to the other as we see it on the sky o The masses of planets with moons may be calculated by applying Newtons laws on motion and gravity, just by observing the moons orbits around the planets o The masses of Mercury and Venus are a little harder to determine accurately because these bodies have no natural satellites of their own. Nevertheless, it is possible to measure their masses by careful observations of their gravitational influence on other planets or nearby bodies. o These techniques for determining mass were available to astronomers well over a century ago. Today, the masses of most objects have been accurately measured through their gravitational interactions with artificial satellites and space probes launched from Earth. www.notesolution.com
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