Astronomy Astrophysics

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By Kristen Lippincott

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A spectroscope breaks down the “white” light coming from a celestial body into an extremely detailed spectrum. 21), a German optician, Josef Fraunhofer (1787–1826), examined the spectrum created by light coming from the Sun and noticed a number of dark lines crossing it. In 1859 another German, Gustav Kirchhoff (1824–1887), discovered the significance of Fraunhofer’s lines. They are produced by chemicals in the cooler, upper layers of the Sun (or a star) absorbing light. Each chemical has its The colors of the rainbow A rainbow is formed by the Sun own pattern of lines, like a fingerprint.

This selenograph, created by the artist John Russell in 1797, is a Moon globe. Only a little more than half of the globe is filled with images because at that time the features on the far side of the Moon were unknown. Not until the Russians received the earliest transmissions from the Luna 3 probe in October 1959 was it possible to see images of what was on the Moon’s far side. 34 • Equatorial diameter 2,160 miles/3,476 km Earth Earth is the only planet in the solar system that is capable of earth and the moon The English astronomer James Bradley (1693–1762) noted that many stars appear to have irregularities in their paths.

Facts about earth THE SPHERICAL EARTH As early as the 5th century bce the Greek philosophers had proposed that Earth is spherical, and by the 3rd century bce they had worked out a series of experiments to prove it. But it was not until the first satellites were launched in the late 1950s that humans saw what their planet looks like from space. The one feature that makes Earth unique is the great abundance of liquid water; more than twothirds of the surface is covered with water. Water makes Earth a dynamic place.

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