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924 Elementary Problems and Answers in Solar System Astronomy

Van Allen, James A.

Publication Year: 1993

This challenging collection of problems is organized into seven carefully crafted, thoughtful chapters on the Sun and the nature of the solar system; the motion of the planets; the Sun, Earth, and Moon; the sky as observed from the rotating, revolving Earth; other planets, their satellites, their rings; asteroids, comets, and meteoroids; and the radiations and telescopes. From question 1, "List characteristics of the solar system that are major clues in devising a hypothesis of its origin and evolution," through question 924, "Give a brief list of the contributions of radio and radar technologies in lunar and planetary astronomy," the problems range in difficulty from ones requiring only simple knowledge to ones requiring significant understanding and analysis. Many of the answers, in turn, illuminate the questions by providing basic explanations of the concepts involved.

Pioneer 10 and 11 are now halfway to the edge of the solar system. All beginning and advanced students of astronomy and their instructors as well as all dedicated amateurs can join James Van Allen on this journey by exploring the questions and answers in this stimulating book.

Published by: University of Iowa Press

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Preface

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pp. vii-viii

This book contains 924 problems, gleaned from quizzes, examinations, observational exercises, classroom discussions, and special assignments that I prepared during my teaching of an introductory course in Solar System Astronomy for seventeen years at the University of Iowa. The problems are loosely organized into seven...

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Chapter 1. The Sun and the Nature of the Solar System

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pp. 1-5

1. List characteristics of the solar system that are major clues in devising an hypothesis of its origin and evolution. 2. The theory of origin of the solar system most widely accepted by professional astronomers at present is principally due to...

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Chapter 2. Motion of the Planets

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pp. 6-30

33. Why are the planets called celestial "wanderers"? 34. Why are the positions of planets not shown in standard star charts? 35. During the course of a year the Sun moves across the star field through the twelve signs of the Zodiac. Name...

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Chapter 3. Sun, Earth, and Moon

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pp. 31-56

214. It is sometimes said that Cavendish's balance experiment is a method for "weighing the Earth". What, exactly, is the physical constant that is measured in this experiment? 215. How can the mass of the Earth be determined? 216. The North-South distance (measured along the surface of the...

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Chapter 4. The Sky as Observed from the Rotating, Revolving Earth

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pp. 57-80

411. Name several common uses for The Astronomical Almanac. 412. The "trace" of the Sun on a star chart during the course of a year is called ( a) the celestial equator; (b) the vernal equinox; (c) the galactic equator; (d) the ecliptic. 413. The vernal equinox is the point in the star field occupied by the Sun on about (a) 21 September; (b) 21 March; (c) 21 June;...

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Chapter 5. Other Planets, Their Satellites, and Rings

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pp. 81-95

623. Which one of the nine major planets is missing from the following list: Mercury, Uranus, Pluto, Earth, Saturn, Mars, Jupiter, Venus? 624. The brightness of a planet of a given size and albedo as seen from the Sun varies (a) directly as the square; (b) inversely as the square; (c) directly as the three-halves power; (d) inversely...

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Chapter 6. Asteroids, Comets, and Meteoroids

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pp. 96-106

730. An asteroid is (a) a small star; (b) a minor planet; (c) a large gas cloud; (d) a small satellite of a planet. 731. What is an asteroid? Where are most of the asteroids? 732. The usual distinction between a planet and an asteroid is based on (a) orbital period; (b) mean density; (c) size; (d) date of...

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Chapter 7. Radiations and Telescopes

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pp. 107-124

809. Only one of the following is a form of electromagnetic radiation. 810. Which one of the following is not a type of electromagnetic ra 813. Describe the essential elements of the determination of the speed 814. The apparent periods of revolution of the satellites of Jupiter tributed to the (a) precession of their orbits; (b) tilt of the axis...

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Answers to Chapter 1. The Sun and the Nature of the Solar System

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pp. 125-127

1. Consider: The orbital planes and senses of revolution of the planets and asteroids; the sense of rotation of the Sun; the sense of revolution of planetary satellites and ring material; the composition and density of planets as a function of heliocentric distance; the large number of asteroids and their orbits; the cratering...

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Answers to Chapter 2. Motion of the Planets

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pp. 128-165

33. Because of their apparent motion relative to the star field. 34. Because their positions in the star field change continuously 35. Any three of the following twelve Zodiacal constellations: Aries, 36. Note observed date, time, and position on the star field and 38. Both concepts are purely geometric in nature. The Ptolemaic ...

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Answers to Chapter 3. Sun, Earth, and Moon

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pp. 166-186

214. G, the universal constant of proportionality in Newton's law of gravitation. 215. By measuring the attractive force between two known masses m! and m2 separated by a distance r and using Newton's law of gravitation...

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Answers to Chapter 4. The Sky as Observed from the Rotating, Revolving Earth

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pp. 187-206

411. To find • phases of the Moon; • times of sunrise and sunset; • times of moonrise and moonset; • dates of vernal equinox, summer solstice, autumnal equinox, and winter solstice; • positions of the planets; • descriptive tables of solar and lunar eclipses;...

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Answers to Chapter 5. Other Planets, Their Satellites, and Rings

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pp. 207-224

626. The classification is on the basis of mean density. The terrestrial and mainly gaseous and liquid) are Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and 631. (a) Gravitational attraction of every element of the planet by 632 .• For an isolated body of fluid, a sphere is the shape of minimum gravitational potential energy. (If the fluid is rotating, an oblate...

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Answers to Chapter 6. Asteroids, Comets, and Meteoroids

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pp. 225-232

809. (d) Gamma ray. 810. ( c) Cosmic ray. (False) 811. Positively charged atomic nuclei (protons and the nuclei of helium and heavier elements) plus a minor admixture of electrons all having high energies, characteristically several billions of electron...

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Answers to Chapter 7. Radiations and Telescopes

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pp. 233-250

811. Positively charged atomic nuclei (protons and the nuclei of he all having high energies, characteristically several billions of elec which they are accelerated to such high energies are thought to 813. In its annual orbit around the Sun, the Earth alternately moves ing Jupiter, the apparent orbital period of a Jovian satellite-as...

Recommended References

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p. 251-251


E-ISBN-13: 9781587292422

Publication Year: 1993