Astronomy Astrophysics

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Extra resources for Astronomy Today Chaisson McMillan, Prentice-Hall, Inc.

Example text

256 solar days long, about 20 minutes longer than a tropical year. LONG-TERM CHANGES Earth has many motions—it spins on its axis, it travels around the Sun, and it moves with the Sun through the galaxy. We have just seen how some of these motions can account for the changing nighttime sky and the changing seasons. In fact, the situation is even more complicated. 5°). This change is called precession. 13 illustrates Earth's precession, which is caused mostly by the gravitational pulls of the Moon and the Sun.

Like the Sun, the Moon appears to move relative to the background stars. Unlike the Sun, however, the Moon really does revolve around the Earth. It crosses the sky at a rate of about 12° per day, which means it moves an angular distance equal to its own diameter—30 arc minutes—in about an hour. LUNAR PHASES The Moon's appearance undergoes a regular cycle of changes, or phases, taking a little more than 29 days to complete. 14 illustrates the appearance of the Moon at different times in this monthly cycle.

Describe how Earth's atmosphere affects astronomical observations, and discuss some of the current efforts to improve ground-based astronomy. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of radio astronomy compared to optical observations. Explain how interferometry can enhance the usefulness of radio observations. List the other types of nonvisible radiation currently being exploited for astronomical observation, and summarize the advantages, limitations, and chief uses of each. Tell why it is important to make astronomical observations in different regions of the electromagnetic spectrum.

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