The Solar System


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A) Observing the Solar System

1) The Sun’s Family

(a) Geo-centric Model

(1) Early astronomy – early model

(2) Earth-centered

(b) Helio-centric Model

(1) Sun-centered

(i) Inertia

1. Tendency to move in straight line

2. Gravity between Sun and object steers the path into an elliptical orbit

(c) Eight planets & moons

(d) Other bodies

(1) Comets

(2) Asteroid Belt

(3) Plutonians

Geo-centric Model

Helio-centric Model

2) Tools for observing the Solar System

(a) Pre-Galileo

(1) Naked eye

(b) Telescopes

(1) Refracting

(i) Focuses light through a lens

(2) Reflecting

(i) Uses curved mirrors to focus light

(3) Radio

(i) Useful 24/7

(ii) Collect radio waves

(4) Space-based

(i) Hubble

(c) Satellites

(1) Object that revolves around another body

(i) Natural

(ii) Man-made

(2) October 4, 1957

(i) Former Soviet Union launches Sputnik

(3) January 29, 1958

(i) USA launches Explorer I

(d) Probes & Rockets

(1) Spacecraft that travel into space

(i) Viking I

(ii) Voyager

Refracting Telescope

Reflecting Telescope

Cassegrain Telescope

Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope

Very Large Array Radio Telescopes

Hubble Telescope



B) Touring the Solar System

1) Inner Planets (Terrestrial)

(a) Mercury

(b) Venus

(c) Earth

(d) Mars

2) Asteroid Belt

3) Outer Planets (Jovian)

(a) Jupiter

(b) Saturn

(c) Uranus

(d) Neptune

(e) Pluto - presently known as a "plutonian" or "dwarf planet"

C) Other members of the Sun’s family

1) Comets

(a) Mass of rock and frozen fluid

(b) In orbit around the sun

(1) Halley’s Comet

(i) About 76 years

2) Meteors – “Shooting Stars”

(a) Meteoroid

(1) Chunk of matter flying through space

(b) Meteor

(1) Meteoroid that falls through the atmosphere

(c) Meteorite

(1) Meteor that strikes a planets surface

Click here for Terrestrial planets

Click here for Jovian Planets

Asteroid Belt

Ida (foreground) and Dactyl

Comet Hyakutake

Halley's Comet

Meteorite Types

Iron primarily iron and nickel; similar to type M asteroids
Stony Iron mixtures of iron and stony material like type S asteroids
Chondrite largest number of meteorites fall into this class; similar in composition to the mantles and crusts of the terrestrial planets
Carbonaceous Chondrite very similar in composition to the Sun less volatiles; similar to type C asteroids
Achondrite similar to terrestrial basalts; the meteorites believed to have originated on the Moon and Mars are achondrites

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