The Final Frontier!

It’s final’s week! Even more specific, it is time for the astronomy 101 final. Instead of a test, we were asked to present two or three of our favorite blog posts from the semester and explain why they were our favorite. After which we will then reflect on our semester, i.e. pros, cons, likes, dislikes, “what I learned”, “this should be changed”, etc.

For my three favorite articles I will be presenting each is going to before a different reason, the first is going to be based on how well I thought I related the article to the conceptual objective very well. The second is because of my absolute fascination with black holes, and that also that being an astronomical “first”. Finally, the third favorite will be because the James Webb Space Telescope is going to bring to many great things to astronomy that everyone should be excited about it.

First, my article on Kepler’s Laws In this blog post I related Kepler’s three laws of planetary motion. The article I was relating it to discussed the recent observation of a binary system that had a great amount of dust orbiting it, leading scientists to believe that this binary system was/could/has potential to be host to a rocky planet. This is worth talking about because binary systems are usually only host to gas giants. This was one of those blogs that I was super confident about when I submitted it and was rewarded by it being given the rating of 5/5 which I felt ( and still feel) was well deserved.

Second, my article on a black hole, Black holes blow my mind, and they will continue to blow my mind even after we find out what causes them. For this blog post I related the article to Newton’s laws of gravity. I found this easy because the article was about a supermassive black hole (cool enough for me) that was blasted out of it’s galactic center (what?!) by the explosion of two galaxies colliding, resulting in the force of over 100 million supernovae (super high action in space!). The rogue black hole was escaping it’s own galaxy and disrupting all the stars and objects that were in it’s way, so it was rather easy to relate Newtons’ laws of gravity to how the black hole’s gravitational pull had effects on the objects it passed/absorbed. As if all that wasn’t cool enough, scientists hadn’t seen anything like this before, so it has the extra awesome-factor of being an astronomical “first”.

Finally, my blog post on the James Webb Space Telescope . As I mentioned above, everyone should be excited about this. Whenever I find someone that wants to talk about this I get that feeling like a kid on Christmas morning, I cannot wait for this telescope to be put into action. The article that I linked in the blog post was about how scientists are excited to use the J.W.S.T. to observe the recently discovered solar system of Trappist-1. They plan on using the scope to view the atmospheres and determine what chemicals lie within, thus helping us better understand whether any of the planets are potentially habitable. This telescope will be able to view the light traveling through a planets atmosphere 39 light years away, and be able to determine what elements the atmosphere is made out of, that’s amazing.

To finish this final blog post, I want to touch on my experience with astronomy this semester. Though I was a little “iffy” on the grading system at the beginning, once I got a handle on it I found that it is an extremely useful method of assessment. As Prof. Morrison mentioned, rather than taking one test or quiz, getting a bad grade on it, not full understanding the topic and moving on, students are given the option and incentive to go back, determine what they did wrong and correct it. On many occasions this helped me to better understand the topic we were discussing and ultimately lead to me getting a good grade in the class. Along with that, the requirement of the astrojournal was really good for me. Because of this I read many articles that I would otherwise skim the title and move on. Now, because of that, I am looking forward and keeping my eyes open for astronomical developments and discoveries that I would never had known about had this been a conventional “read the book, take the test” class. Lastly, a big thing that I enjoyed, and helped me keep an interest in sometimes uninteresting topics, was Prof. Morrison’s passion for astronomy. Having an instructor who is still fascinated and excited by what they teach makes the class so much easier and more fun. I enjoyed taking ASTRO 101 this semester, it has made astronomy a part of my life that I plan to carry with me forever.


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