Lunar and Planetary Science – Astronomy

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Topic: Sciences
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Among Galileo’s key telescopic observations, the lunar and the Jupiter ones, the observations of the sunspots, and those of the phases occurring on Saturn, Neptune and Venus, must be listed (Lutgens and Tarbuck 472). It seems that the lunar observations were of the greatest significance, since the obtained results were used as a means to evaluate the phenomena observed by Galileo later.

After the Big Bang, many molecular clouds appeared. The mass in the center was collapsing, as if someone stirred tea in a cup with a big spoon. Because of the gravitational forces, the Sun was formed in the middle, like small tealeaves gather in the middle of a cup. The rest of the dust moving around formed planets and asteroids (Lutgens and Tarbuck 476).

Compared to Jovian planets, the ones of the terrestrial type are of smaller mass, in a closer proximity to the Sun, have a solid surface (not a gaseous one) and little (one or two) moons, whereas Jovian planets may have three and more moons (Lutgens and Tarbuck 477).

The planets that have a solid surface and no atmosphere to protect them from asteroids are most likely to have more craters than the other ones.

The key difference between maria and highlands of the Moon is their altitude and color. As a rule, maria are represented by plains, which are rather dark, whereas highlands are located higher and are of a predominantly light color (Lutgens and Tarbuck 478).

Much like the Moon, Mercury is hotter, has a higher density and has a more intense magnetic field (Lutgens and Tarbuck 479).

Though Venus, unlike Mars, has an atmosphere, its acid rains do not allow for the existence of life forms.

The phenomenon known as the Great red Spot and that can be observed on Jupiter is classified as a storm (Lutgens and Tarbuck 482).

The gravitational pulls, which are caused by Io’s location, predispose the increase in temperature and cracks in its surface.

Titan, one of Saturn’s natural satellites, the only satellite with a dense atmosphere, which makes it a very interesting celestial body to study (Lutgens and Tarbuck 486).

Unlike asteroids, which are made mostly of metal, comets contain ice and dust (Lutgens and Tarbuck 489).

Though the crater was named after the local post office (Lutgens and Tarbuck 491), the name is still wrong, since a meteor can only exist in the outer space. As soon as it reaches the Earth atmosphere, it receives the title of a meteorite. Therefore, it would have been more reasonable to call the hole the Meteorite Crater.

Despite a common misconception regarding the size of a dwarf planet, it is not only the size, but also the amount of celestial bodies on its orbit that defines its status. Below are the key differences between the two (Lutgens and Tarbuck 496):

Planet Dwarf planet Example
Little to no other celestial bodies on its orbit A significant amount of debris on its orbital path Earth/Pluto
Λ (Orbital dominance) 102to 105 10-7to 10-3
Mass More than 0.1 EM (Earth mass) Less than 0.1 EM

It should be noted that the mass of a planet as one of the parameters for defining a dwarf planet seems to be the least defining detail (Lutgens and Tarbuck 497).

When speaking about the phenomenon of meteor showers, one must keep in mind that most of them occur on a regular basis. One of the most famous periodic meteor showers, June Bootids occurs in late June (Konovalova, Madiedo and Trigo-Rodriguez 1355).

Neptune is a very peculiar planet to explore, since it has much greater density than the rest of the gas planets in the Solar System, its gravity is very close to that of the Earth, and the fact that Neptune could have captured Triton (Lutgens and Tarbuck 499).

Works Cited

Konovalova, Nadine, James M. Madiedo and Jose M. Trigo-Rodriguez. “The Physical Properties of the June Bootids and the July, 23, 2008 Superbolide.” 42nd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. 2011. 1355–1356.

Lutgens, Frederick K. and Edward J. Tarbuck. “Weather Patterns and Severe Weather.” Foundations of Earth Science. 7th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. 2014. 469-500. Print.