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Summer SAVY 2017, Session 6/Day 1- Planetary Astronomy (Rising 6th/7th)

Posted by on Monday, July 24, 2017 in SAVY.

Day 1

In today’s Planetary Astronomy class, we started laying the groundwork for discussion of planets both in and out of our own Solar System and then determined how planetary systems form!

At the start of class, we introduced each other and talked about things students would like to learn in a Planetary Astronomy class. We also discussed Wikipedia a bit (I love Wikipedia and it is a wonderful place to get an overview of (especially) astronomical topics). After discussing our planets in general, we also got into one of my favorite websites for determining what we can see in our sky – Heavens Above ( ). On this website you can find information about when to see the International Space Station, where various spacecraft are, the current orientation of the planets, and get a star chart for your specific location (among several other things). Then we examined a data table of information about the planets and discussed many of the new terms like escape velocity, inclination, eccentricity, and solar and sidereal days.

After lunch, we worked on interpreting graphs of Solar System data so we could see evidence of overall characteristics of the Solar System (like how it’s basically flat, that most everything spins and orbits in the same direction, and the 5-6 major components of the Solar System). Once we knew the overall characteristics, then we could work on determining how to MAKE a planetary system that had all of those characteristics and we did that via role-playing! Each student got to be an expert on a piece of the formation puzzle then they had to talk to each other about how their evidence fit together to make a whole. We’ll be talking more about formation tomorrow. Find out what your student was an expert in and how they currently understand planetary formation!

Dr. G