Astronomy Lab

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ASTR 101
Size of the Solar System
Name _______ Section __ Overview
·Become familiar with the scale of the planets vs. their distances. ·Get an overview of the solar system.
·50 points are possible
It is easy to flip to the index of an astronomy textbook to discover that, say, the Sun lies 150 million kilometers away from Earth. It is far more difficult (if not impossible), however, to picture this distance in our mind. In this exercise, we will learn to access the often unpalatable distances encountered in astronomy by simply scaling the huge distances to more recognizable, familiar numbers. So long as every distance within the system of interest is scaled by the same factor, we retain the meaningful information about relative distances between objects. This is exactly the same principle employed by map makers, so that they can fit Texas, onto a book page. General Overview Questions:

A. The definition of a planet was changed in 2006. Using your textbook and the webpage resource listed below in number 1: Discuss what the characteristics of a planet are and how this new criteria declassified Pluto. B. How do the sizes of the terrestrial planets compare to the gas giants? C. How do the sizes of all the planets compare to the Sun? Approximatley how many Earth’s would be required to fill the Sun? D. If the Sun were the size of a basketball: What would the comparative sizes of Earth and Jupiter be similar to? (Identify what common, round objects would be similar to Earth & Jupiter’s scaled sizes) E. How do the distances between the terrestrial planets compare to the distance between gas giant planets? F. Why are there no gas giant planets located between the Sun and asteroid belt? Part A: Comparative Size of the Planets

1.Complete Data Table A
a.Research and fill in the equatorial diameter (km) for each planet. Use the following link for information:
b.Use the scale 7000 km = 1 cm to calculate the scale size of planets. c.Use significant figures.
2.Using the scale diameters in Data Table A and a common program like Paint or shapes in Word; construct circles representing the planets. a.Create circular forms that represent the scaled size of the object. Illustrate smaller circles within larger circles. Each circle representing a planet must be clearly labeled. b.If the diameter is too small - draw a line that is equal to the planets scaled radius and label the line clearly. c.Label each circle with the name of the planet it represents. Data Table A - Size of the Planets

Planet|Equatorial Diameter (km)|Scale Diameter (cm)|
Mercury |4,878 km| .7 cm|
Venus | 12,103.6 km| 1.73 cm|
Earth | 12,756.28 km| 1.82 cm|
Mars |6,780 km| .97 cm|
Jupiter | 139,822 km| 19.98 cm|
Saturn | 116,464 km| 16.64 cm|
Uranus | 50,724 km| 7.25 cm|
Neptune | 49,248 km| 7.04 cm|
Part B: Relative Distances of Planets from the Sun
1. Complete Data Table B
a. Research and fill in the mean distance from the sun (km) for each of the planets. Use the following link for information to use within Part B: b. Use the scale 25,000,000 km = 1cm to calculate the scale distance from the sun (cm). c. For answers less than 100 cm - round using two significant figures. d. For answers greater than 100 cm round to the nearest meter. 2. Using a common drawing program like Paint create a virtual model of your scaled solar system. Establish the position of the sun; then make a line to represent the longest distance within your model. You can then fill in the remaining objects at the appropriately scaled distances. Hint: It may help to break this up into two sections (terrestrial planets and gas giants) Point of Interest: Be certain to label all representative distances clearly. Your virtual...
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