Ask an Astronomer – Astronotes

For those who’ve ever had any burning questions you needed to ask an astronomer, right here is the place to do it! We’ve answered some frequent questions right here, however when you’ve got any extra you’d like a solution to, touch upon this publish.

  • What’s spectroscopy?  

Gavin Ramsay says: Spectroscopy is a method of figuring out what objects are made from. Whenever you see a rainbow, you might be seeing the spectrum of the . Droplets of water a bit like prisms and unfold the sunshine from the solar into a steady vary from the blue to the purple. As a substitute of water drops, astronomers use spectrographs on telescopes to get spectra of stars and galaxies. For those who get sufficient photons and the spectrograph has sufficient decision you’ll begin to see darkish – or typically vibrant – bands within the spectra that are attributable to components and complicated materials. Astronomers use spectra to learn how stars and galaxies are made and acquire details about their movement. 

Picture Credit score: NASA
  • Why can we put telescopes in ?  

Chris Duffy says: In order that we take a look at the sky with out Earth’s environment in the way in which which may distort and block indicators from house. Astronomers early on that by placing telescopes excessive mountains we may see excess of down on the bottom as a result of the air was thinner. By placing telescopes in house, we’ve been in a position to see much more, even detecting planets in different photo voltaic techniques!

The James Webb House Telescope – the successor to Hubble.
Picture Credit score: NASA
  • How can we get data backwards and forwards from spacecraft we ship throughout the Photo voltaic system?  

Tolis Christou says: In two phrases,  waves. Spacecraft include radio transmitters and receivers, permitting them to talk with floor controllers on Earth. The identical radio waves are utilized by cell phone networks or the wi-fi connection in your pc. Due to the good distances concerned, indicators from spacecraft are normally very weak once they arrive on Earth, so we use large dish-shaped antennas to obtain them. NASA makes use of a set of antennas referred to as the Deep House Community or DSN for brief. These are positioned around the globe in order to cowl the whole sky at any given time. They’re so delicate they’ll choose up a cell phone name from throughout the photo voltaic system. 

Picture Credit score: NASA
  • When was the primary radio telescope constructed and the place is the most important one now? 

The astronomer Karl Jansky first found that objects in house give off radio waves with the radio telescope he inbuilt 1931. He’s now often known as the daddy of radio astronomy. Grote Reber then added to Jansky’s work in 1937, and undertook the primary sky survey within the radio frequency.  Each of those pioneers had been from the USA, although Reber then moved to Tasmania to hold on his work.

The CSIRO Parkes Radio telescope at Sundown.
Picture Credit score: NASA

The most important radio telescope at the moment, is The 5 Hundred metre Aperture spherical radio Telescope (FAST) in Ghizou province of China. It’s nicknamed Tianyan, or ‘Heaven’s eye’.

Picture Credit score: Wikimedia Commons
  • Why are some stars vibrant and others dim? 

Marc Sarzi says: The of stars within the night time sky relies upon each on how far-off they’re from us and on how intrinsically they’re. You’ll be able to think about stars as streetlights and candles. A candle in your hand would look brighter than a streetlight on the finish of the street, though it provides off a a lot fainter gentle. As to what makes some star extra luminous than others, I suppose we are able to talk about this one other time!

Picture Credit score: NASA
  • Why do stars twinkle, however planets don’t? 

Jorick Vink says: Stars are far-off. Planets are comparatively close by. Consider a cow within the subject near you, it’ll seem very large. However the cow on the far aspect of the sphere simply appears to be a “dot”. Because the air blurs the imaginative and prescient of stars & planets, the dot within the far distance will begin to transfer about. I.e., stars twinkle, and though the identical blurring occurs to the planet too, simply because it is so large its view stays virtually unchanged.

Picture Credit score: NASA



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