Space Studies Tuesday, Lesson 1-1 The Solar System

Thought we'd start this lesson with a song...

With that warm up--today's lesson is introduction to the solar system, with some cosmic perspective and some terminology.  Read it on the JPL web page then come back.  Be sure to take the quiz.  It's pretty easy.

Since we are learning together, I thought the best way to handle this is to ask all of you to comment with some insights you had and any questions.  I'll try to find the answers to the questions and post them in the comments as well.

I remember the argument about whether or not Pluto should be removed from the list of planets.  I liked this best--as a planet, Pluto was the odd kid who never quite fit in.  As a plutoid, it is the standard for similar objects in the solar system.  Makes sense to me.

The solar winds have long fascinated science fiction writers who have imagined solar sailing ships.  In 2010 Japan launched the first solar sail craft.  The latest I can find is that it passed Venus in December 2010 and was to keep going through March 2012, but the JAXA website is woefully out of date.  (Inquiring minds want to know!) They're obviously only going to be useful within the solar system, but is the boundary the termination shock or the heliopause?  Could make an interesting story--a ship adrift in the heliosheath.

Another interesting note, and one I have to remember for my worldbuilding class--if you are going to postulate a world undergoing some kind of communications crisis due to extreme sunspot activity, you'll need to know the year and figure out the correct sunspot cycle.  I'm not real fond of this scenario, myself, but every couple of workshops, it pops up.  Now, I can start directing my students to this class!

There are three things I got from this course, and as you can see, I'm reading this as a science fiction writer--how can I use the information, and how has it been used already.  What about you?  What did you find interesting? Useful?

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