Exploring the Heavens
A 5 evening introduction to the night sky. Using 3D graphics, and the real night sky, we explore what is happening above our heads at night. From the Moon, stars, planets, comets, meteors and satellites we explore them all. Each evening will be completed with viewings through the telescopes, weather permitting.
A week by week outline follows.
A brief history of Astronomy.
A principally western view that follows some of the more significant threads that took us from an Earth centred model of the universe to a model with no centre at all. The story also includes how we became enlightened about our place in the universe. A very slow realization we have no special place in the universe, and that the physical laws that describe the world about us also apply to the greater cosmos.
We end the evening orbiting a black hole. A symbol of how we have been able to transcend our intuitive understanding of the world, to describe some of the more extreme environments in the universe.
We explore the rhythms of the sky.
From a day, to a year, we look at their formal definitions. You may be surprised that the length of the calendar year is not how long it takes the Earth to go around our Sun. We also explore how the day and year determines what we see in the night sky. During the evening we develop a model of the Solar System to aid us in finding the planets at night and determine the way they move.
Can you point in the direction we are all currently travelling about the Sun? All the geometry necessary to answer this question is in the night sky.
We take a contemporary 3D tour of the Solar System.
We explore one theory as to how the Solar System formed. From Mercury too Neptune, we visit Pluto, Kuiper belt objects and comets, and wonder if an asteroid will visit us tomorrow?
Over many dacades our Solar System has been extensively explored by sophisticated space probes. We look at some of the more significant results from these explorations, and see how they have transformed our understanding of nature of our planetary family.
We start with the Sun, our most familiar star. We look at its cycles and explore how it affects our planetary environment.
We explore what defines a star, how they form, how they shine and how they come to an end. White dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes will feature in this lecture.
We explore the principles of how a telescope functions.
The first half of the evening is dedicated to telescopes, how they work and what to look for in a good telescope. To conclude the course, weather permitting, we will take some telescopes outside and observe the night sky.