Secrets of the Deep Sky

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Brief History Of Astronomy

Ancient cultures were fascinated with the heavens, and astronomy developed into one of the earliest sciences as these cultures formalized their studies of the night skies. Much of the work of these early astronomers focused on observations and predictions of the motions of objects visible to the naked eye, and some cultures erected large monuments that likely have astronomical significance. Early Jewish, Chinese, and other cultures established calendars based on observations and calculations of the Moon cycles, and these calendars became essential for determining seasons and knowing when to plant crops. By the year 1000 b.c.e. Chinese astronomers had calculated Earth's obliquity to the ecliptic, or the tilt of the planet's axis relative to the orbital plane about the sun. Early astronomers included the study of astrology, celestial navigation, and time calculations such as making calendars in their field, but modern professional astronomy is equivalent to astrophysics, with branches...

Subdisciplines Of Modern Astronomy

One relatively newer goal of modern astronomy is to describe and characterize objects in the distant universe, with the Milky Way galaxy being recognized as a distinct and related group of stars only in the 20th century. This realization was followed by recognition of the expansion of the universe as described by Hubble's law, as well as distant objects such as quasars, pulsars, radio galaxies, black holes, and neutron stars. The field of observational astronomy is based on data received from electromagnetic radiation from celestial objects and is divided into different sub-fields based on the wavelengths being studied. Radio astronomy deals with interpreting radiation received from celestial objects where the radiation has a wavelength greater than one millimeter, and is commonly used to study supernovae, interstellar gas, pulsars, and galactic nuclei. Radio astronomy uses wave theory to interpret these signals, since these long wavelengths are more easily assigned wavelengths and...

Preface to the series

The study of environmental change is a major growth area of interdisciplinary science. Indeed, the intensity of current scientific activity in the field of environmental change may be viewed as the emergence of a new area of 'big science' alongside such recognized fields as nuclear physics, astronomy and biotechnology. The science of environmental change is fundamental science on a grand scale rather different from nuclear physics but nevertheless no less important as a field of knowledge, and probably of more significance in terms of the continuing success of human societies in their occupation of the Earth's surface.

Scientific ContnBUTIONS

After completing his studies, Nicolaus Copernicus returned to Prussia and took on the position of secretary to his uncle Lucas Watzenrode, who was at the time the bishop of Warmia. During this time he lived at the bishop's castle at Lidzbark Warminski (Heilsberg) and started his research on the heliocentric model of the universe. Copernicus obtained a position as a burgher of Warmia in the Collegiate Church of the Holy Cross in Wroclaw (Breslau) in Bohemia, and he kept this position for most of his life while carrying out his studies as an amateur astronomer. Copernicus was a polymath, serving as economic administrator of Warmia from 1516 to 1521, and as head of the Royal Polish forces for Olsztyn (Allenstein) castle when it was besieged by the Teutonic Knights during the Polish-Teutonic War of 1519-21. He also worked as a diplomat on behalf of the bishop of Warmia and adviser to Duke Albert of Prussia, especially in the fields of monetary reforms, where he was charged with...

Linking Earths Orbit To Its Climate

The realization that small changes in Earth's orbit might have regular and predictable affects on climate originated just over a century and a half ago. It came about from a convergence of knowledge in two very different disciplines the still-young science of geology and the somewhat older field of astronomy. As it turned out, the answer to this mystery was to be found not in Earth's internal geologic processes, but in its orbit in space. Centuries earlier, during the 1500s and 1600s, astronomers Nicholas Copernicus, Johannes Kepler, and Galileo Galilei had discovered that Earth is not the center of the universe but a small planet held in an orbit around the Sun by the pull of gravity across 93 million miles of In time, other astronomers began to investigate another, more subtle effect of gravity the influences on Earth of the combined gravitational tugs of the Sun and Moon and all the planets as Earth orbits the Sun. Gradually they had come to learn that the secondary tugs of the...

Millions of Years

Over long time scales, Earth's angle of tilt does not remain constant. In the 1840s French astronomer Urbain Leverrier found that the gravitational attraction of large planets (mainly Jupiter) causes Earth's tilt to vary within a range of 22.2 and 24.5 over a cycle that is 41,000 years long. Every 41,000 years, the tilt goes from a maximum to a minimum and back to a maximum. These tilt cycles are regular in both length and amplitude (fig. 3.1).

Past Glacial Evidence

In order to solve this issue, Arjun G. Yodh, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Pennsylvania, created a way to conduct the experiment on a larger scale using transparent crystals resembling small beads. This allowed him to view the process in an optical microscope. The crystals behaved like a huge version of the atoms. Yodh and colleagues were able to determine that a premelting process occurs in the area where the atoms within solid crystals are not perfectly aligned, and they begin moving. Acting as imperfections, they begin moving first, then spread to the ordered portions of the crystals. This discovery illustrated that when ice melts, there is a premelting process that occurs before the actual melting temperature is reached.

Later scientific contributions

In 1917 Einstein published a paper that added the cosmological constant to his theory of general relativity, in an attempt to explain the behavior of the entire universe. Einstein later abandoned this constant, although new observations in the 1990s suggest that he may have been correct. In 1917 different groups of astronomers also began testing Einstein's prediction of the gravitational redshift of light, but all groups claimed to have disproved his theories until 1919, when the team of British astronomer Arthur Eddington confirmed the gravitational deflection of starlight by the Sun during an eclipse, proving Einstein correct. scientists around the world then recognized the importance of Einstein's work, with British Nobel laureate Paul Dirac claiming Einstein's theory was the greatest scientific discovery ever made. See also astronomy astrophysics cosmology general relativity gravity, gravity anomaly origin and evolution of the universe.

Glacial theory and early global climate models

Retical models of how the composition of the atmosphere could affect Earth's climate. And this is what Arrhenius did. From the international scientific scene, he drew on Fourier's theories about the heat-absorbing capacity of the atmosphere, Tyndall's recognition that carbon dioxide played an important role in this process, and observations by the American astronomer and physicist Samuel P. Langley of dark heat from the moon. In the intellectual environment of the scientific network that he had created in the Stockholm Physical Society, he connected this to knowledge on the carbon cycle developed by his Stockholm colleague Arvid Gustaf Hogbom to the hotly debated question regarding the causes of the ice ages and the ice masses that had shaped the geology of Scandinavia.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences offer several undergraduate and graduate courses of study in the geophysical sciences geology, geophysics, geochemistry, geobiol-ogy, atmospheric science, oceanography, climate, planetary science, and astronomy. More specifically, the Program in Atmospheres, Oceans, and Climate oversees a broad curriculum, with emphasis in three areas of study Atmospheric Sciences, Climate, and Oceanography.

Formation Of Solar System

See also asteroid astronomy comet Earth Galilei, Galileo Jupiter Mars Mercury Neptune origin and evolution of the Earth and solar system Pluto Saturn Uranus Venus. Chaisson, Eric, and Steve McMillan. Astronomy Today. 6th York W. H. Freeman, 2008. Condie, Kent C., and Robert E. Sloan. Origin and Evolution of Earth, Principles of Historical Geology. upper Saddle River, N.J. Prentice Hall, 1997. Snow, Theodore P. Essentials of the Dynamic Universe An Introduction to Astronomy. St. Paul, Minn. West, 1984.

Evolution Of Highmass Stars

See also astronomy astrophysics binary star systems constellation cosmology dwarfs (stars) galaxies interstellar medium planetary nebula star formation supernova. Chaisson, Eric, and steve McMillan. Astronomy Today. Encyclopedia of Astronomy and Astrophysics. CRC Taylor and Francis Group Publishers. Available online. uRL http . Accessed october 24, 2008. scienceDaily Astrophysics News. scienceDaily LLC. Available online. uRL http news space_time astrophysics . Accessed october 24, 2008. snow, Theodore P. Essentials of the Dynamic Universe An Introduction to Astronomy. 4th ed. st. Paul, minn. West Publishing Company, 1991.

Sverdrup Harald Ulrik 18881957

As he was not aware of the possibility to study science at university, he first opted for the classical curriculum in 1903. Within this field, his major interest became astronomy. Sverdrup left the gymnasium with honors and spent a year in Oslo preparing for university preliminary examinations. Military service was compulsory at the time, so he decided to combine it with his scientific education, enrolling at the Norwegian Academy of War. This training was combined with the study of physics and mathematics. The physical training that he received while at the academy was extremely useful for his survival during his later long arctic expeditions. When Sverdrup entered university, he decided to major in astronomy. In 1911, he was offered an assis-tantship with Professor Vilhelm Bjerknes, the preeminent Norwegian meteorologist and founder of the Bergen School, which allowed him to enter one of the brightest scientific circles in the country. The Bergen School was supported by an annual...

Further Reading and Web Sites

This paper describes the age and origin of the sand dunes and loess fields of central Alaska. Pan, Z., M. Segal, and C. Graves. On the potential change in surface water vapor deposition over the continental United States due to increases in atmospheric greenhouse gases. Journal of Climate 19 (2006) 1,5761,585. This article describes the formation of the global warming hole over the central United States. Pan, Z., R. W. Arritt, E. S. Takle, W. J. Gutowski Jr., C. J. Anderson, and M. Segal. Altered hydrologic feedback in a warming climate introduces a 'warming hole.' Geophysical Research Letters 31 (2004). This technical paper describes the physics of forming global warming holes and was the first to describe the atmospheric warming hole that causes the midwestern United States to become wetter and slightly cooler while the rest of the planet gets warmer during global warming. Schroeder, Peter, Robert Smith, and Kevin Apps. Solar evolution and the...

The search for extraterrestrial life

Golden records with sound and images intended to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth. The Galileo spacecraft, launched by NASA October 18, 1989, to study Jupiter and its moons also contained an apparatus to search for possible extraterrestrial life, particularly on the moon Europa, which contains a saltwater ocean beneath a layer of ice. The American astronomer Carl Sagan (1934 96) devised a set of experiments using Galileo's instruments to test for possible life using remote sensing. Sagan made a list of criteria needed to identify life on another planet system using remote sensing, and this became known as the Sagan criteria for life. Included are the following One way of estimating the likelihood of the existence of extraterrestrial life in the universe is called the Drake equation, named after University of California Santa Cruz astronomer Frank Drake. The Drake equation multiplies estimates of the following terms together

Ptolemy Claudius Ptolemaeus

Ptolemy, Claudius Ptolemaeus (83-168) Greek Mathematician, Astronomer, Astrologer, Geographer Claudius Ptolemaeus, known in English as Ptolemy, was an important ancient Greek mathematician, astronomer, and geographer whose works contributed to building the basis for European and Islamic sciences. Ethnically Ptolemy was Greek, though his name Claudius shows he had Roman citizenship. Egyptians knew him as The Upper Egyptian, suggesting he was from southern Egypt, but this is not certain. His works show that he had access to the older Babylonian astronomical observations and data. He is most famous for Almagest (The Great Treatise, or The Mathematical Treatise). His second main work was Geographia, which discussed the geography of the Greco-Roman world. The third major treatise that bears Ptolemy's name is the Tet-rabiblos (Four Books), a discourse on astrology and natural philosophy. Ptolemy's Almagest is the oldest complete discussion of astronomy surviving from the ancient world,...

The Mayas Mesoamerica 200 ce to 900 ce

Ever since the discovery of Mayan ruins in the Honduran jungle during the mid-1800s, the remnants of this majestic civilization have lured archaeologists, anthropologists, and linguists from around the world. By 900 bce the Mayan civilization had spread across the region we now know as Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, Belize, and the northern half of Guatemala. Between 250 ce and 900 ce, Mayan civilization reached its zenith, producing great intellectual achievements in the arts, mathematics, and astronomy. Moreover, the Mayas evolved the only elaborate writing system native to the Americas. Without metal tools, horses, oxen, or even the wheel, they were able to construct vast cities across a huge jungle landscape with an amazing degree of architectural perfection and variety. Their massive pyramids across Central America have become modern-day monuments to their cultural legacy. Their great cities were dominated by brightly decorated royal palaces that gleamed in the tropical sun, and the...

Box I I The concept of ice ages historical background

As evidence of environmental change accumulated, attention also focused on the underlying cause of climate change. The French mathematician Adhemar was the first to involve astronomical theories in studies of the ice ages. In 1842 he proposed that orbital changes may have been responsible for climatic change of such magnitude. The Scottish geologist James Croll advanced a similar approach in 1864, suggesting that changes in the Earth's orbital eccentricity might cause ice ages. In the book Climate and Time he explained the theory in full. Due to the inability to date and test Croll's hypothesis, his theory was not seriously considered until Milutin Milankovitch, a Serbian astronomer, revived the theory during 1920-40. The Milankovitch theory, or the astronomical theory of ice ages, has become widely accepted since the 1950s with evidence from the deep-sea records. The late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries witnessed the establishment of new methods, mainly based on biological...

Millions of Years Ago

Beginning in 1911, astronomer Milutin Milankovitch made a series of laborious hand calculations of the amount of solar radiation received by latitude and by season over the entire Earth during the last several hundred thousand years. His calculations continued in a jail cell where he was imprisoned by the Austrians during World War I and then afterward when he was paroled. He took into account the two factors that Isaac Newton had centuries ago shown to be the major controls on solar radiation (1) the varying angle of incoming solar radiation relative to the surface of the Earth (the effect of tilt), and (2) Earth's distance from the Sun (the combined effects of eccentricity and precession). These laborious calculations, now done with much greater accuracy by computers in just minutes, laid the groundwork for many discoveries, the most important of which are covered in the next two chapters.

Evolution of Production Methods

12Pliny the Elder (Gaius Plinius Secundus, A.D. 23-79), Roman naturalist, encyclopedist and writer born in Verona. He served a cavalryman in Germany and from his experiences wrote his first book On the Use of the Javelin by Cavalry'', the beginning of a literary career of enormous output. His famous Natural History (Historia Naturalis) was published in the year 77 A.D., two years before his death and is the only work of Pliny to survive. The work in 37 volumes is encyclopedic in coverage and includes information on astronomy, chemistry, geography, natural history, agriculture, medicine, astrology, and mineralogy. A popular translation covers five volumes, each of about 500 pages. Over 400 different authors are cited. Pliny was a compiler and the work is a monumental collection of science, technology, and ignorance. Although Pliny appears overly credulous, his encyclopedic coverage is the best known and most widely referred source book of classical natural history. Pliny is also a rich...

Kobe Japan 1995 magnitude

Copernicus, Nicolaus (1473-1543) Prussian (Polish or German, disputed) Astronomer, Mathematician, Physician, Economist, Military Leader, Diplomat Nicolaus Copernicus is credited with being one of the earliest scientists to propose a scientifically sound model with the Sun as the center of the universe, displacing the Earth from this role in earlier models. His heliocentric model was described in his book De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres, 1939), which many regard as the starting point of modern astronomy and the beginning of a revolution in science known as the Copernican revolution.

The First International Polar Year 18821883

In total, 12 countries participated in the first IPY resulting in 15 coordinated expeditions to the poles (13 to the Arctic, and 2 to peri-Antarctic islands). Fourteen research stations were established (Fig. 2.3) where researchers conducted experiments and gathered data (hourly records) over the course of the year that would greatly enhance the basis of then current knowledge of the Earth's magnetic field, surface weather conditions and astronomy. Two of these stations were in the Southern Hemisphere Orange Bay at the southern tip of Tierra del Fuego (established by France) and Moltke-Hafen at Royal Bay, South Georgia (established by Germany). Another 34 permanent stations were located outside Polar territories (e.g. Shanghai, Rio de Janeiro, Bombay) bringing the number of stations participating in the IPY to 48. This first IPY was primarily focused on

Example of a cometary impact with earth

Melting Continental Crustal

For a long time one of the biggest puzzles at Tun-guska was the absence of an impact crater, despite all other evidence that points to an impact origin for this event. Many scientists now think that a piece of a comet, Comet Encke, broke off the main body as it was orbiting nearby Earth, and this fragment entered Earth's atmosphere and exploded about 5-6 miles (8-10 km) above the Siberian plains at Tunguska. This model was pioneered by Slovak astronomer Lubor Kresak, following earlier suggestions by the British astronomer F. J. W. Whipple in the 1930s that the bolide (a name for any unidentified object entering the planet's atmosphere) at Tunguska may have been a comet. Other scientists suggest the bolide may have been a meteorite, since comets are weaker than metallic or stony meteorites, and more easily break up and explode in the atmosphere before they hit Earth's surface. If the Tunguska bolide was a comet, it would likely have broken up higher in the atmosphere. In either case...

Support For Huttons Theory

Huygens, Christian (1629-1695) Dutch Mathematician, Astronomer, Physicist Christian Huygens was born on April 14, 1629, in The Hague, the Netherlands, son of Constantijn Huygens. He attended the University of Leiden and the College of Breda in the southern Netherlands, where he studied law and mathematics before becoming interested in science. Huygens is best known for his contributions showing that light consists of waves, which led to the current model explaining light using the concept of wave-particle duality. This is a quantum mechanical concept whereby all matter and energy exhibit both wave- and particle-like properties. Christian is also credited with developing many concepts of modern calculus. See also astronomy constellation Copernicus, Nicolaus Einstein, Albert life's origins and early evolution Mercury Ptolemy, Claudius Ptolemaeus Saturn.

Chamberlin Thomas C 18431928

While at Chicago, Chamberlin worked with astronomer Forest R. Moulton to define the planetesimal hypothesis. Their research was published in Two Solar Families (1928). With Rollin Salisbury, he coauthored Geology (1904-06), probably the most influential American textbook of geology before World War II. At a time when single, comprehensive introductory textbooks were not common, Geology had a profound impact. In 1909 Chamberlin worked for the Rockefeller Foundation, spending five months in China to organize an aid program for the country.

Cosmic microwave background radiation

In 1964 two American scientists, Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, were working on a project at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey to identify and eliminate sources of interference with satellite communications. In their work they accidentally stumbled on one of the most important finds in astronomy and astrophysics of the century. While Penzias and Wilson were examining the radiowave emissions from the Milky Way Galaxy using microwave wavelengths, they discovered a background hiss that would not go away, no matter which direction they pointed their receiving antenna or when they took the measurements. They then showed that this background hiss persisted throughout the year and was isotropic, meaning it had the same intensity in all directions. See also astronomy astrophysics origin and evolution of the universe.

Physical Properties Of GalaxIES

The motions of galaxies show interesting patterns on different scales of observation. The motion of individual galaxies within clusters of galaxies appears random, but the clusters show very ordered patterns to their motions at some of the largest scales of observation in the universe. Some of these motions have been partly understood for nearly a century. In 1912 Vesto Slipher, an American astronomer working with Percival Lowell (1855-1916), the American astronomer who founded Lowell Observatory and was president of Harvard University, discovered that every spiral galaxy he observed had a redshifted spectrum Slipher concluded they were all moving away from the Earth. This observation has since been extended to include all known galaxies, which are moving away from the Earth in all directions. Individual galaxies not in clusters are moving away, as are the groups of galaxies in clusters, even though they have some random motions within the clusters. Furthermore, as observations...

Orbital parameters precession

The Greek astronomer Hipparchus (c.190-c.120 b.c.e.) compared astronomical observations 169 years apart, and found that the Earth's axis around which the night sky appeared to rotate shifted gradually. He discerned a 2-degree shift by looking at the Earth's shadow on the moon during a lunar eclipse. From this observation, Hipparchus could determine the Sun's position among the stars and identify Earth's changing axial position.

Gaia the rebirth of Nature

In the Greek tragedy attributed to Aeschylus, Prometheus steals fire from Zeus and gives it to humans so as to increase their power. Zeus is angry and punishes both man, by sending Pandora with her box, and Prometheus by having him chained to a rock where an eagle eats out his liver, which regenerates each night only to be devoured again the next day. Prometheus, who saw himself as the benefactor of mankind, reveals that he also taught men how to increase their powers with agriculture, metallurgy, medicine, mathematics, architecture and astronomy. Later, Hercules kills the eagle and releases Prometheus. The idea of the 'unbound Prometheus' has been interpreted in modern times as the release of the powers of technology and industry in eighteenth-century Europe.38 But just as Zeus and Prometheus remain estranged, so the unrestrained powers of Prometheus have brought about the modern tension between 'heaven and earth'. In the myth it is only when Prometheus reveals to Zeus a secret that...

Rossby Carl Gustav 18981957

Rossby was born on December 28, 1898, in Stockholm, Sweden. When he was 20, he moved to Bergen, Norway, to study under pioneering atmospheric scientist Vilhelm Bjerknes at the Geophysical Institute. At that time, Bjerknes and his so-called Bergen School were making great progress in laying the foundations of meteorology as a science with their breakthroughs in the polar front theory and air mass analysis. The center was the world's leading center of meteorological research. The young Rossby contributed his brilliant ideas to the development of the group's projects. Because of the impact of Bjerknes's guidance, Rossby, who had previously been interested in studying mathematics and astronomy, committed himself to meteorology.

Different Types Of Supernovas

Point the star becomes unstable because the gravitational force exceeds the electron degeneracy force in the core, causing it to collapse and explode for a final time in a supernova. The mass at which a white dwarf binary system becomes unstable has been calculated to be about 1.4 solar masses, by Indian astronomer (and Nobel Laureate) Subramanyan Chandrasekhar, and is known as the Chandrasekhar mass. These supernovas are hydrogen-poor because there is very little hydrogen in the system when it explodes.

Solution Carryover and Replenishment

The photoprocessing industry is very diverse. It includes photofinishing laboratories, x-ray processing at medical and dental facilities and industrial sites, professional photographic operations, motion picture laboratories, processing systems for scientific uses such as astronomy and geology, aerial mapmaking and satellite photography, microfilm processors, graphic arts operations, and others.

The Mid Ocean Ridge Is Approximately 75000 Miles Long

Astronomy Today. 6th ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J. Addison-Wesley, 2007. York W. H. Freeman, 2008. National Aeronautic and Space Administration. Solar System Exploration page. Saturn. Available online. URL cfm Object Saturn. Last updated June 25, 2008. Snow, Theodore P. Essentials of the Dynamic Universe An Introduction to Astronomy. 4th ed. St. Paul, Minn. West Publishing Company, 1991.


Kazimierz Borkowski for writing most of the computer programmes which enabled us to process statistically the data that were gathered. I am also grateful to Dr. Jerzy Usowicz from the Department of Radio Astronomy at the NCU for writing a computer programme which calculates periodicity in time series using a method of spectrum analysis in relation to eigenvalues, and for many valuable conversations on the subject.

Early Years

In 1491 Copernicus began his college years by enrolling in the Krakow Academy (the contemporary Jagiellonian University), where he began his studies in astronomy. After four years of study at Krakow, Copernicus returned to Torui, then moved to the Universities of Bologna and Padua, where he studied law and medicine, supported financially by his uncle Watzenrode the Younger.

Ionospheric Imaging

The mathematical problem of how to reconstruct a function from its projections was originally solved by Radon 1917 , but the first practical application was not published until 1956, when the tomographic method was applied to radio astronomy Bracewell (1956) . Recent interest in tomographic imaging began with the invention of the X-ray computerized tomography scanner by Hounsfield in 1972. This original medical application, the CAT (computer aided tomography) scanner, took measurements of the

Hansen James 1941

Born on March 29, 1941, in Denison, Iowa, Hansen was educated at the University of Iowa where he obtained a B.A. in Physics and Mathematics with highest distinction in 1963, an M.S. in Astronomy, in 1965, and a Ph.D. in Physics, in 1967. He took part in the NASA graduate traineeship program from 1962 to 1966 and, at the same time, between 1965 and 1966, he was a visiting student at the Institute of Astrophysics at the University of Kyoto and in the Department of Astronomy at the University of Tokyo. After serving as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands, in 1969, and as a Research Associate at Columbia University, from 1969 to 1972, Hansen joined the Goddard Institute for Space Studies. He has directed the Institute since 1981, and has worked as an adjunct professor at Columbia since 1985. As a college student, Hansen was first attracted to the James Van Allen Space Science Program, but later focused on planetary research dealing with climate change on...

Holistic Model

The Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences relies on a holistic model of the Earth, incorporating physics, chemistry, astronomy, and biology to study the intimate link between human life and the Earth and its systems. In addition to bringing together a variety of disciplines for scientific discovery, the department incorporates colleagues in social sciences and humanities to address societal issues pertaining to the human Earth interrelationship.


In addition to recognizing distinguished accomplishments by electing members to its own ranks, the NAS recognizes the work of other accomplished scientists by bestowing annual awards, currently 30 in number, in nine fields Astronomy Astrophysics, Behavioral Social Sciences, Biology and Medicine, Chemistry, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Engineering and Applied Sciences, Mathematics and Computer Sciences, Physics, and a General category. Awards include the John J. Carty Award for the Advancement of Science, with an emphasis in ecology the Arthur L. Day Prize and Lectureship, focusing on the physics of the Earth the Public Welfare Medal, and the NAS Award for Scientific Reviewing, in the fields of social and political sciences and the Public Welfare Medal. The Public Welfare Medal is awarded in honor of distinguished service in the application of science to the public good. Noted recipients include Gilbert White, in 2000, for educating members of the academic community and government...

The Wrong Elephant

Against the advice of my colleagues, my racquetball buddies, and other people capable of giving me grief, I went to the Bio-astronomy Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico in July 2007. In writing this book, I have spent enough time reading astrobiology and bioastronomy papers and books to know that the study of life in space is a serious science. It is a field, after all, funded both by NASA and the National Science Foundation. Yet I could not escape the sense that I was about to find myself listening to stories about alien abductions and probes. I packed my bags and flew to old San Juan, steadying myself for what I might find. That much has changed since the early days of astrobiology was evident immediately at the meetings. For one thing, there are now many hundreds of astrobiologists scattered across fields ranging from marine biology to anthropology. But more important, the field of play has changed. When Frank Drake and Carl Sagan began looking to space, we had a handful of...


Astronomer Milutin Milankovitch proposed the orbital theory that is established by a variety of evidence, starting with tree ring variation. The precession of the equinox, the obliquity of the Earth's orbit around the sun, and the eccentricity of the Earth's orbit all contribute to the level of insolation received by Earth and are therefore the cause of geologic shifts in climate.


A key observational result (known as the principle of Dittmar, after William Dittmar, a Scottish professor of chemistry the principle of Maury, after Matthew Fontaine Maury, an American astronomer, oceanographer, and geologist or the hypothesis of Forchhammer, after Johan Georg Forchhammer, a Danish mineralogist and geologist) is that the relative concentration between some of these most abundant salts is virtually constant over much of the World Ocean. This finding indicates that the physical characterization of seawater is given by its temperature, pressure, and a single number reflecting the concentration of the most abundant components. Salinity is that number.

Supernova Remnants

Supernovas are observed only about every hundred years from Earth, but many supernova remnants are still observable long after their peak of luminosity and radiance. The most famous of these is the Crab Nebula, now a dim nebula sitting about 5,940 light-years (1,800 parsecs) from the Earth and having a visible angular diameter about one-fifth that of the Moon. The Crab Nebula is so interesting because in 1054 its initial explosion was recorded by Chinese, Native American, and Middle Eastern astronomers, who recorded its brightness to be greater than Venus and rivaling the Moon. The explosion was so bright that it was visible in broad daylight for about one month, and the material is still moving outward from the central region at a couple of thousand miles per second (several thousand km sec). Another historically famous supernova is Tycho's supernova, named after Danish nobleman and astronomer Tycho Brahe (1546-1601). It caused a sensation throughout the world during the Renaissance,...

University of Hawaii

The university of Hawaii, also known as UH, is a public, coeducational college and university system that confers associate, bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and postdoctoral degrees through three university campuses, seven community college campuses, an employment training center, three university centers, four education centers, and various other research facilities distributed across six islands throughout the state of Hawaii. All schools of the UH system are accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. UH at Manoa is the flagship institution of the system. It is well respected for its programs in Hawaiian Pacific studies, astronomy, east asian languages and literature, asian studies, second language studies, linguistics, ethnomusicology, medicine, and law. UH education centers are located in more remote areas of the state, supporting rural communities via distance education.

Foxe Luke

Luke Foxe was denied a berth as mate on John Knight's 1606 East India Company voyage to find the North West Passage, but his diligent pursuit of cartographic and hydrographic knowledge of the Arctic led to his acquaintance with nautical writer and stationer John Tapp, globe maker Thomas Sterne, and Henry Briggs, Professor of Astronomy at Oxford. Briggs instilled in Foxe his unwavering conviction of the existence of a North West Passage, instructed him in applying advanced mathematics to navigation, and in 1629 supported Foxe's petition to the Crown for aid to mount an expedition. Thomas Button lent his support when the Lords of the Admiralty consulted him about the feasibility of the proposal. Thus, Foxe was given use of the 70-ton Charles, which was refitted for the voyage, although too late to embark during 1630. The death of Briggs and the dwindling of Foxe's financial backers might have ended the venture, but word of a similar expedition, under the command of Thomas James and...

Kahlid Shaukat

Dr Khalid Shaukat was born in India in 1943, migrated to Pakistan with his parents in 1956, and continued his college education in Karachi, Pakistan. He has bachelor's degrees in physics and civil engineering from the University of Karachi. He obtained his graduate degree in civil engineering from Georgia Tech in 1970. Since migrating to the US in 1969, he has been involved in scientific and engineering research, especially in physics, mathematics and astronomy. Over the last three decades he has published articles in various journals and publications on earthquake engineering, seismic design of structures, pump seals, scientific aspects of moon-sighting (a scientific as well as religious global issue) and the global Islamic calendar. He has given over 90 lectures on various subject of his expertise in many countries of the world, including at the American Muslims Social Scientists (AMSS) Convention, the Climate Stabilization Conference (Washington DC), Islam in America Conventions,...

Billings Joseph

As an astronomer, Joseph Billings took part in James Cook's last expedition by sailing in the northern part of the Pacific Ocean and in the Chukchi Sea. In the early 1880s on the recommendation of S.P. Vorontsov, a Russian envoy in London, Billings was engaged in Russian service as a warrant officer (1783), a lieutenant (1784), and a captain-lieutenant (1785). In 1785, he was appointed as chief of the Northeast Expedition (1785-1794) that Empress Catherine II sent to seize the coast between the Kolyma River and the Bering Strait explore the sea between the northeast coast of Russia and the opposite coast of the United States of America verify information about the land stretching to the north from Bear Island and study the peoples (especially the Chukchi) and natural resources of that place.


Hero of Alexandria, Egypt, studies air pressure and vacuum. Pliny the Elder publishes Historia Naturalis in 37 volumes. In these works he described many new minerals and ores, and defined the basis of crystallography. In Greece, Ptolemy publishes Almagest, the first complete record of astronomy. This was followed by his Geographia, which discussed the geography of the Greco-Roman world, and Tetrabiblos, a discourse on astrology and natural philosophy. 1609 Dutch lens maker Hans Lipper-shey invents the telescope. German astronomer Johannes Kepler presents his first and second laws of planetary motion. Epitome astronomia Copernicanae (Epitome of Copernican astronomy), including the heliocentric model for the universe, the elliptical paths of planets, and all three laws of planetary motion. 1919 English astronomer and physicist Arthur Eddington leads an expedition that measures the bending of starlight passing near the Sun during a total solar eclipse, which confirms the general theory...

Chemical Weathering

Meteorologist, Geologist Alfred Lothar Wegener was born on November 1, 1880, in Berlin, Germany, and obtained a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Berlin in 1904. He is well known for his studies in meteorology and geophysics and is considered by many to be the father of the theory of continental drift. His is also known for his work on dynamics and thermodynamics of the atmosphere, atmospheric refraction and mirages, optical phenomena in clouds, acoustical waves, and the design of geophysical instruments. Wegener was an avid balloonist, and pioneered the use of weather balloons to monitor weather and air masses while he was working at the Royal Prussian Aeronautical Observatory near Berlin. Alfred and his brother, Kurt, broke a Alfred Wegener's interest in meteorology and geology led him on a Danish expedition to the unmapped northeastern Greenland coast in 1906-08, mainly to study the circulation of polar air masses. This was the first of four Greenland expeditions he would...


Usually, albedo is used in the field of astronomy to describe reflective properties of planets, satellites, and asteroids. There are two types of astronomical albedo normal and bond albedo. Normal albedo is a measure of a surface's brightness when illuminated and observed vertically, while bond albedo is defined as the fraction of total solar light reflected back to space and

Types Of Galaxies

Telescopic observations of galaxies show that they have a wide range of different shapes first classified by the American astronomer Edwin Hubble in 1924 into four basic types, including spiral galaxies, barred spiral galaxies, elliptical galaxies, and irregular galaxies. Hubble's classification has since been modified and elaborated upon, but astronomers continue to use the same basic scheme.

The Big Bang

Astronomers and cosmologists must estimate the amount of matter, dark matter, and energy in the galaxies and the interstellar medium to test different models for the evolution of the universe (Sander van Sinttruye, 2008, used under license from Shutterstock, Inc.) counterbalanced gravity, enabling the universe to continue expanding in his equations. Dutch mathematician, physicist, and astronomer William de Sitter (1872-1934) further applied Einstein's theory of general relativity to predict that the universe is expanding. In 1927 Belgian priest and astronomer Georges Lemaitre (1894-1966) proposed that the universe originated in a giant explosion of a primeval atom, an event now called the big bang. In 1929 American astronomer Edwin Hubble (1889-1953) measured the movement of distant galaxies and discovered that galaxies are moving away from each other, expanding the universe as if the universe is being propelled from a big bang. This idea of expansion from an...

Further Resources

Encyclopedia of Space and Astronomy. New York Facts On File, 2006. This is a comprehensive, high school-to-college level encyclopedia covering thousands of topics in astronomy. Chaisson, Eric, and Steve McMillan. Astronomy Today. 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J. 2007. A college-level textbook on astronomy. Astronomy Today. Available online. URL http . Accessed February 5, 2009. Web site on news and interesting topics in astronomy. Astronomy

Emission Nebulae

Observations of newly formed star regions and star clusters show that low-mass stars form more commonly than high-mass stars, but at present astronomers do not understand the reasons that control the types and spacing of stars, nor why in some cases the process is very efficient and uses much of the original dust and gas from the collapsed dust cloud, whereas in other cases the process is not efficient. See also astronomy astrophysics constellation cosmology dwarfs (stars) galaxies interstellar medium star formation stellar evolution. Chaisson, Eric, and Steve McMillan. Astronomy Today. 6th ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J. Addison-Wesley, 2007. York W. H. Freeman, 2008. Encyclopedia of Astronomy and Astrophysics. CRC Taylor and Francis Press. Available online. URL http . Accessed October 24, 2008. ScienceDaily Astrophysics News. ScienceDaily LLC. Available online. URL http news space_time astrophysics . Accessed October 24, 2008. Snow, Theodore P....

Solar Core

See also astronomy astrophysics aurora, Aurora Borealis, Aurora Australis cosmic rays greenhouse effect origin and evolution of the Earth and solar system solar system star formation stellar evolution sun halos, sundogs, and sun pillars. Chaisson, Eric, and steve McMillan. Astronomy Today. 6th ed. upper saddle River, N.J. Addison-Wesley, 2007. NAsA. Worldbook, sun. Available online. uRL http modified November 29, 2007. scienceDaily Astrophysics News. scienceDaily LLC. Available online. uRL http news space_time astrophysics . Accessed october 24, 2008. snow, Theodore P. Essentials of the Dynamic Universe An Introduction to Astronomy. 4th ed. st. Paul, minn. West Publishing Company, 1991.

Ellsworth Lincoln

The son of a wealthy American coal mining baron, Ellsworth struggled for the first half of his life to gain financial support for his planned polar expeditions from his extremely reticent father. Failing that, Ellsworth's early life was a succession of learning experiences he believed essential to his ultimate goal of exploring the polar regions. Trained as a surveyor and engineer in railroad building, Ellsworth worked in these fields in Northwest Canada from 1903 to 1908. After a winter studying surveying and astronomy at the Royal Geographical Society in London, Ellsworth spent three years as a field assistant studying North American animal distributions for the US Biological Survey. A military stint in France at the age of 37 led to his certification as a pilot. In 1924, Ellsworth led a Johns Hopkins University geological survey of the Andes.


See also astronomy astrophysics comet meteor, meteorite origin and evolution of the Earth and solar system solar system. Albritton, C. C. Jr. Catastrophic Episodes in Earth History. London Chapman and Hale, 1989. Alvarez, Walter. T Rex and the Crater of Doom. Princeton, N.J. Princeton University Press, 1997. Angelo, Joseph A. Encyclopedia of Space and Astronomy. New York Facts On File, 2006. Chaisson, Eric, and Steve McMillan. Astronomy Today. astronomy Astronomy is the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the Earth's atmosphere. The name is derived from the Greek words astron for star and nomos for law and includes the study of stars, planets, galaxies, comets, interstellar medium, the large-scale structure of the universe, and the natural laws that describe these features. Astronomy is also concerned with the chemistry and meteorology of stellar objects, the physics of motion, and the evolution of the universe through time.

Admired And Honored

Hipparchus (160-120 b.c.e.) Greek Astronomer, Geographer, Mathematician Hipparchus was one of the greatest astronomical observers of ancient Greece. He is best known for his accurate quantitative models for the motion of the Sun and Moon. He used a trigonometric table and techniques See also astronomy solar system Sun.

Molecular Clouds

Geology Wedge Uplift

Molecular clouds are among the largest structures of interstellar space. They consist of cold and relatively dense (1012 particles cm3) collections of matter in molecular form. Molecules in these clouds can become excited by collision with other particles or by interacting with radiation. When either happens, the molecules reach a higher energy state when they are excited, and when they relax to a lower energy state, they emit a photon that can then be detected by astronomers. Molecules are more complex than atoms, so they can produce a greater variety of energy released during changes in rotation, electron transitions, and vibrations, each releasing a characteristic photon emission. Most molecular clouds are located in very dusty and dense areas in interstellar space, so energy released in these processes in the ultraviolet, optical, and most infrared wavelengths is absorbed Chaisson, Eric, and Steve McMillan. Astronomy Today. 6th ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J. Addison-Wesley, 2007....

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