Thursday, July 14, 2011

Can You See Me Now?

Day 3

Yesterday was an intense day. Not only did we have our regular lectures/discussions, we went up to WIRO to see the telescope. I didn't get home until after midnight. Whew! It was a long day! So what did we talk about?

We talked about gravity. Did you know that gravity is everywhere in the universe? Really, it is. It might not be as powerful as it is on Earth, but it's there.

We talked about Newton and Kepler's theories, which led into a discussion about orbits. A lot of this stuff was physics based, which is what turned me off from astronomy as an undergraduate, so I'm not going to bore you with the details. It was fascinating learning about how orbits form and what you have to do to change them. The math part made my eyes cross, but I got the jist of the conversation.

After that, we discussed planets, both in our solar system and outside of it. The lecture focused on the different ways astronomers use to locate planets. An interesting fact: 1 in 10 planets that we have examined so far have planets. What does that mean? There are a lot more planets out there than we anticipated. Are they habitable? Maybe. The majority of them aren't earthlike, but that doesn't mean life couldn't evolve in some other way.

Then, we discussed different kinds of stars and how they are born. In a nutshell, they come from gas clouds that collapse in space.

The final lecture of the day was about world building, biology, and culture. Stan Schmidt took all the stuff we learned earlier in the day and showed us how to apply it to creating alien worlds. Surprisingly, he even made the math make sense. It was a great way to apply the in-depth information.

As I mentioned, after dinner we headed up to Jelm Mountain. I have lived in Laramie for 13 years, and I've never been up there. It was an adventure. First of all, the views were stunning! I need to go up sometime in the day.

Secondly, the telescope was so cool! We didn't get a chance to see anything because there was a lightning storm before and they didn't want to fry the components. When it was finally safe, it was really late, and most of us were very tired. They have an open house in October, so I might go back then.

On a final note, the blog tour goes on, so check it out here.

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