From the beginning, concepts regarding the universe and the stars have always interested me, my youth wishing to learn as much as I could about the Solar system that I could. I studied the stars to try to find what I could, even if my young mind couldn’t quite grasp the sheer magnitude that these celestial beings granted. When I walked into this class on the first day, your rather specialized grading system had outwardly terrified me, as I hadn’t understood that there was the possibility of remakes and the idea that we made blog posts rather than took exams baffled me at first conception. As I went through the semester, however, my opinions had changed much more than I had originally expected, my understanding quickly catching up as we progressed throughout the lessons, easily reigniting the spark I had for my fascination of the stars and what was out there. While its definitely true that the quality of posts developed had improved as the semester went on, but if I am to choose two of my favorites, they’d likely be “DARE to dream” and “A galaxy minus an exploding battery“, and this is why.
“DARE to dream” spoke of an article from perspective of Sarah Lewin of Space.com, whom wrote about the Dark Ages Radio Explorer telescope (DARE for short), a unique radio wave based telescope, that sits in the floating orbit of our moon as it scans for a rare phenomena known as Dark Age Stars, or light produced by some of the very first stars after the Big Bang; and as a feat from a ground-based telescope would be absolutely impossible, this radio-based system was required. What gave the DARE so much trouble was the moon’s inconsistent gravity, and even with such a disadvantage I found this post to be a favorite due to the fact that understanding humanity’s impressive grasp over unmanned astronomical devices has improved to such a point that this free-floating radio telescope around the rock we can see nearly every night can be the beneficial link to find really what’s out there, and hopefully those Dark Age stars they wish for, if not proper evidence of the Big Bang to prove it more than both a theory and a popular television show.
“A galaxy minus an exploding battery”, on the other hand, starts with a pun about Samsung’s infamously self-destructing phones before moving on to the Sciencedaily.com article written by the group from the North Carolina museum for Natural Sciences about an incredibly rare find of a celestial entity known as a Hoag-type galaxy, a very indivudal type of galaxy with a round central bulge just like any other galaxy, but then not one but two unconnected rings that spin at different intervals around the center bulge; as a joke, I mentally referred to these galaxies as “Touch of Malice” galaxies, behaving like a spinning element of the weapon in video game Destiny under the same name, with a center power core and two spinning disks. What I found so fascinating about this as I wrote was that I had always known galaxies as the spinning spiral disks that always originated from the center point and never broke, and I was very excited to read that galaxies exist out there that completely defy that mentality and do their own thing anyway, straying from the norm but not quite being classified as irregular galaxies, as there was still consistency in the Hoag-type galaxy past that.
Overall, I’ve taken several very interesting classes over the span of my college career here at JJC, but none kept my attention quite as prominently as this one did, even past the rather unique grading system that started the class off with a (pardon the pun) Big Bang. The blog posts were a well-placed substitute for exams, which while were a bit cumbersome around midterm time where several occurred at once, they still succeeded; and the reading and reflection reviews were frankly a perfect way to really help drive what was learned that day home. If I were to suggest this class to anyone, requirement for their major or not, I’d recommend your class, with the warning that it may have a minor learning curve that can easily be conquered if the person’s enjoyment of the universe was substantial enough. Thank you for reading, as well as teaching.