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The Sky and the Solar System

Astro 120 Lecture notes - Fall 2008

Some of the current lecture notes projected in class will be made avalable on this page. When they are posted, the "PDF" symbol will appear next to the Lecture number and date. The notes are in Adobe Acrobat PDF format:

Adobe PDF files can be viewed with the free Adobe Acrobat Reader program. Go here to download a copy for your own computer.

Note that the original material in these notes is copyright S. Kawaler, and is intended for use by Astro 120 students. They are not to be reproduced or distributed for sale.

A playlist with much of the music played before class is available here

  • Lecture 1 (8/26) Introduction to Astro 120
          Music: Woodstock, Joni Mitchell (and performed by Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young)


  • Lecture 2 (8/28) The Cosmic Fishbowl - celestial coordinates and motions
          Music: Northwest Passage (audio), (short video), Stan Rogers --- and --- Changes in Latitudes (video), Jimmy Buffett


  • Lecture 3 (9/2) The apparent motion of the sun; time
    Please note: 1:10 lecture will start at the middle of Lecture 2, proceeding quickly through that and lecture 3 material (thanks, fire alarm guy...).
          Music:Daylight (audio), Allison Kraus and Union Station --- and --- It Was a Very Good Year (audio), The Kingston Trio


  • Lecture 4 (9/4) Seasons and the Sun; the Moon
          Music:Summertime, Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong --- and --- Winter in America (video), Gil Scott-Heron
          --- and --- Rabbit in the Moon (audio), Aztec Two-Step


  • Lecture 5 (9/9) Lunar phases and the orbit of the Moon
          Music:Moondance (audio),Van Morrison --- and --- Blue Moon of Kentucky (video), Bill Monroe


  • Lecture 6 (9/11) Lunar and Solar Eclipses
          Music: Moonshadow, Cat Stevens - and - You're So Vain, Carly Simon
    • The Lunation Movie
    • Animation of the lunar orbit and ecliptic over a Saros (18.7 year) cycle - 2.2Mb Quicktime movie, made using SkyGazer, the program included with your textbook. Click on it to start. If you have a problem download from the link...
    • Lunar Eclipse, by Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)
    • Short movie of a lunar eclipse
    • Video of our Aruba solar eclipse expedition
    • Pictures from the Aruba total solar eclipse


  • Lecture 7 (9/16) Planetary Motion(s) - Ancient Astronomy up to Galileo
          Music: Maya Love, George Harrison - and - Galileo (audio), Indigo Girls
    • Quicktime animation of Mars retrograde motion
      • alternate movie from the WWW
    • The Ballad of Tycho Brahe
    • The Apollo 15 hammer-feather drop movie


  • Lecture 8 (9/18) Tycho to Galileo to Kepler to Newton
          Music: The Laws Must Change (audio), John Mayall --- and --- Gravity (video), Embrace


  • Lecture 9 (9/23) Newton


  • Lecture 10 (9/25) Rocket Science!
          Music: Stairway to Bootleg Heaven, DJ Earworm --- and --- Satellite (audio, video), Dave Matthews
    • Why Mars Climate Orbiter crashed- see, in particular, the next-to-last paragraph on page 6. Ouch.
    • Movie of the Cassini flight plan: Quicktime or MPEG
    • A writeup of transfer orbits from JPL


  • Lecture 11 (9/30) Overview of the Solar System and Planetary Guts:
          Music: Solar System, The Beach Boys -- and -- I'll be a-round, The Spinners

EXAM 1: October 2, 6:30PM to 8:00PM


  • Lecture 12 (10/7) Planetary Surfaces I: Physical processes.
          Music: Crash Burn (video, audio), Blues Traveler -- and-- Dance on a Volcano, Genesis
    • Video clip of a milk drop - analogy to a crater formation with a central peak


  • Lecture 13 (10/9) Planetary Surfaces II: ages of surfaces
          Music: Tombstone (audio), Suzanne Vega ; I Feel the Earth Move (audio), Carole King ; --- and --- Long Time Gone, Crosby, Stills, and Nash
    • Movie of Ranger 9 crashing into the Moon


  • Lecture 14 (10/14) Radiometric dating, and the surfaces of the Moon, Mercury (and Venus)
          Music: Playing with Uranium (video), Duran Duran --- and --- Bohemian Rhapsody, (audio), Queen (w/ Freddie Mercury) --- and ---
      Things Shown, and extras:
    • Fix Figure 9.29: The "Giant Impact" theory of the formation of the Moon.
    • Spacecraft images of Mercury


  • Lecture 15 (10/16) (Venus and) Mars
          Music: Venus and Mars, Paul McCartney and Wings --- and --- Marching to Mars, Sammy Hagar
    • Mars Exploration Rovers, one day they'll stop working, perhaps!
    • Mars Express
    • Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter at Mars


  • Lecture 16 (10/21) Planetary Atmospheres, the Greenhouse effect
          Music: Pressure Drop, Toots and the Maytals; - and - Billy Breathes, Phish
    Data Shown:
    • Links on Global Warming and Ozone Depletion
    • Summary IPCC report on global warming (2007 Nobel Prize winners)


  • Lecture 17 (10/23) Giant Planets I: Interiors and Atmospherese
          Music: Call it Stormy Monday, performed by Eva Cassidy (video, audio of T-Bone Walker) --- and --- Jupter and Beyond, by Gyorgy Ligeti, from 2001: A Space Odyssey
      Images Shown:
    1. Movie of Jupiter's cloud motions
    2. Links to images of the outer planets from spacecraft, many shown in lecture
    3. Rotating Neptune - an HST Movie


  • Lecture 18 (10/28) Giant Planets II: Tides, Rings, ...
          Music: Tide is High (audio), Blondie --- Ring-Around-A-Rosy Rag, Arlo Guthrie -- and -- To See You Coming 'Round the Bend, , Yonder Mountain String Band
      Things Shown (and some I should have shown):
    1. Saturn ring plane crossing movie
    2. Fix Figure 12.31: Translucency of the rings
    3. Fix Figure 13.11: Occultation record of Uranian rings
    4. Satellite and ring image links for the outer planets


  • Lecture 19 (10/30) Icy Satellites, Plut(in)o(s), and KBOs
          Shepherd Moons Enya, Skating Away on the Thin Ice of the New Day (video), Jethro Tull, --- and --- Cold Rain, Crosby, Stills & Nash
    1. Cassini-Huygens Mission currently orbiting Saturn
    2. Paper models of Cassini and other spacecraft.


  • Lecture 20 (11/4) KBOs, Asteroids, and Meteorites - remnants of the formation of the solar system
          Music: Shooting Star Bob Dylan; Shooting Star, Harry Chapin --- and --- Stone Crazy, Kevin Burt & the Instigators
      Related links:
    1. Toyota Tacoma: Meteor-Tough
    2. Sylvia, Romulus, and Remus - an asteroid family
    3. Links to spacecraft images of asteroids
    4. Movie of flyby of Asteroid 2002 NY40, from ISU's observatory


  • Lecture 21 (11/06) Comets and their origins
    • Websites with info and pictures of a variety of comets
    • The Bayeaux Tapestry, panels 15 and 16, and go here for commentary.
    • Movies of Comet Borrelly
    • Videos from the Deep Impact mission
    • Comet Wild 2 and the Stardust sample return mission
    • Short movie of passage of a Kuiper Belt object
    • Quicktime movie of two comets 'hitting' the Sun.


  • Lecture 22 (11/11) Collisions - past, present and future
          Music: Till the End of the World Rolls Around (audio), Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs; The Rock, Harry Chapin --- and --- It's the End of the World As We Know It (audio), R.E.M.
      Images Shown:
    • The Peekskill Fireball
    • websites about collisions (Tunguska, Meteor Crater in Arizona, etc

EXAM 2 - November 13, 6:30 - 8:00 PM


  • Lecture 23 (11/18) Astrology and Pseudoscience
    Aquarius, from the musical Hair free mp3 --- and --- Superstition (audio), Stevie Wonder
    • Websites discussing astrology
    • The Carlson study on astrology



  • Lecture 24 (11/20) Our Sun
          Music: Here Comes the Sun, (Richie Havens version), The Beatles; Invisible Sun (audio), The Police --- and --- Why Does the Sun Shine(audio),, They Might Be Giants
    • Latest images of the Sun from the National Solar Observatory
    • Granulation movie
    • Mercury transit across the chromosphere
    • Eruptive prominence movie


  • Lecture 25 (12/2) The origin of our Solar System
      Music: Stardust (audio), Nat King Cole version --- and --- Spinning Wheel, (audio), Blood, Sweat and Tears
    • figure showing condensation temperatures as a function of distance from the Sun
    • The planet/dust system surrounding the star Fomalhaut


  • Lecture 26 (12/4) Other planetary systems
      Music: Another World : Joe Jackson --- and --- Big Space: Suzanne Vega
    • A hammer throw
    • Links to various extrasolar planet pages
    • NASA's Kepler mission to find other Earths
    • Movie of gap creation and migration
    • First image of an extrasolar planetary system - 11/17/2008


  • Lecture 27 (12/9) The search for life in the Universe I: Searches for life beyond Earth
    Music: What is Life?, George Harrison ; Cool Clear Water (audio), Odetta; --- and --- The Shallow End of the Gene Pool, Austin Lounge Lizards
    • Extrasolar planet info
    • Links about SETI


  • Lecture 28 (12/11) The search for life in the Universe II - Searches for intelligent life; conclusions
      Music: Englishman in New York (audio), Sting; After the Gold Rush, Neil Young --- and --- Woodstock, by Joni Mitchell, performed by Crosby, Stills, and Nash
    • Short video featuring SETI folks and the Allen Telescope Array
    • Links to SETI programs etc.

EXAM 3 December 16, 2008: 4:30-6:30PM   Tell A Friend