Star by Star

In a recent article I read titled, Magnitude System, many different objectives are covered including the brightness of a star, size, distance, and luminosity. In our eleventh conceptual objective, “I can explain how astronomers study the properties of stars including: distance, size, and mass”, the article break s it down piece by piece for readers to fully understand the idea. The first topic that the article includes is how the brightness of stars is determined. To begin the brightness of stars come from the magnitude system. A greek astronomer Hipparchus came up with this system around 150 B.C. According to the article, “He put the brightest stars into the first magnitude class, the next brightest stars into second magnitude class, and so on until he had all of the visible stars grouped into six magnitude classes. The dimmest stars were of sixth magnitude. The magnitude system was based on how bright a star appeared to the unaided eye” (Astronomy Notes). As time went on, instead of diminishing the magnitude system, they found a way to improve it. Astronomers discovered that a difference of five magnitudes corresponds to a factor of 100 times in intensity. They also established the belief that the human eye perceives many differences in brightness and it may not be the most accurate way to detect brightness.

magnitude systemIn class, Professor Morrison provided the class with many examples in our lecture that relates back to our conceptual objective. We discussed what parallax was and how the idea relates back to the way some technology or astronomers view stars. As a class, we looked at fingers at arms length to distinguish how the some things may seem a different distance from what it really is. A parallax is the effect where the position or distance of an object may alter the way it really is because of the way it is being viewed. We also worked with our neighbors in our lecture turtle handbooks pages 41-43. The relationship between the parallax and distance was discussed and we were able to practice on different situations the book gave us. I believe both of these tools gave us a better understanding of our objective because we were able to think on our own and relate the idea back to real life. For example, our rear view mirrors in our car states, “objects in mirror are closer than they appear”. This s prepares us for cars that seem farther than they are, but for us to be cautious because they are actually closer than we think. By comparing this to our conceptual objective, “I can explain how astronomers study the properties of stars including: distance, size, and mass”, I was able to gain a better understanding.


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