My All Time Favorite Posts of the Semester (and Reflection)

To choose only two or three blog posts out of all of them is quite the difficult task, however I think I am fairly certain in the ones that I have chosen to talk about in my final blog post. They will go in ascending order of third favorite to most favorite.

 

The first one I wish to bring up was my post on a recent study that found that UV light rays could be an essential step as to how early replicating molecules led to the very first simple forms of life. This is arguably one of my personal favorites because as I explain in the original post, any and all scientific evidence pointing to how life began is incredibly interesting to me, and when I saw this article I knew I had to cover it. From simple nucleotides to polynucleotides to RNA and then to lipid protected DNA, every step is incredibly interesting to me and I hope to learn more in the future on it as more discoveries are made.

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My next personal favorite has to be my article on how complex matter can come from simple reactions in the cores of stars and how that all occurs, which tied in to our discussion on nuclear fusion in class. Similar to the previous favorite that I chose, I’m incredibly interested in the explanations of how simple forms (like RNA or hydrogen/helium atoms) can give rise/evolve into more complex ones (like DNA or Carbon-12 atoms). I only place this one higher than the previous one because this article covered a topic I wasn’t entirely sound on. The previous article was a topic I already knew fairly well, this one on the other hand had a lot of new information that surprised me at how I hadn’t learned about it before. It was only the fact that it was new that placed it at a higher position relative to the previous one for me.

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My last and most favorite hands down has to be my take down of addressing pseudoscience in the form of a post written in reference to the heliocentric/geocentric model. One point I didn’t make in the original that is often left out (and I wish I made it at the time) is the fact of scientific consensus. What people often forget was that, the Catholic church at Copernicus’s time was not the scientific consensus, Copernicus was. The opposite is often claimed by those who do not understand what a scientific consensus is. Scientific consensus is not determined by who has the most votes, it is determined by who is right. While not explicitly stating that in the original, it is a point that I allude to during the whole discussion on how to dispel pseudoscience in a productive manner, which quite frankly I think I did fairly well. Like I say in my original post, setting the record straight on what the scientific consensus is is what I feel must be done, and so I take it upon myself to educate myself on these topics as much as possible in order to confront nonscientific beliefs whenever I can. That sole factor is why that post is my favorite, and why it was written so passionately and with great care in its wording.

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And so, here we are, at the close. Ultimately, I found the overall experience of this class to be very useful. While for some of the topics I already had a general understanding of how they (astronomers) came to the conclusions that they did, I still found the rest of it useful, like learning various different topics not previously known in detail to me (HR diagram and its use, classifications of stars and each of their deaths, Proton-proton cycle, CNO cycle, and many more). I hope to take this knowledge and apply it to further instances of discussion when, for instance, dispelling pseudoscience and quelling scientific ignorance, willful or not. Both history and science are very near and dear to my heart in terms of educational disciplines, and so whenever I hear a particular claim attributed to either of them, I always hope to be prepared in my assessment of their validity and soundness. A healthy dose of skepticism is always preferable to blind assertion, which is why I share so much respect for both of these fields. Both are skeptical of claims, both search for evidence to support/disprove them, and both inductively reason based off of the evidence the simplest and most logical conclusion. Astronomy 101 has taught me much to reinforce what I know and build up from my previous ignorance, and I hope both such occurrences will continue to happen later on in my college career as I take and learn from more scientific courses.

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Final Blog Post

My favorite blog post overall was Stars and Stuff because of the fact I actually felt like I knew the material very well and I also found it to be so interesting. When I think of stars there is always so much to think about like how do they form, how hot are they, how far away are they and things of that nature. From this objective I got the answers to all of my questions. Stars always blow my mind because of the fact there is so many and they are all throughout our entire universe. I also think of stars to be spiritual, but that’s for another time. Overall, what I found out about stars in this objective is how to determine the luminosity, temperature and and size of a star. First of all, I didn’t even know what luminosity was, and I assumed all stars are relatively the same size. Other than the obvious, the Sun, is much bigger. But I also discovered that even our massive Sun is quite small compared to what else is out there. Anyway, luminosity is the energy the star cangive off from the surface. Astronomers measure a star’s temperature with the Kelvin scale. A star that measures 1 solar radii would be the same size as our Sun. The most important thing I think I learned is the fact that a star’s size and its surface temperature will determine its luminosity. Something I found interesting though was how hotter stars are more blue and cooler ones are more red- which I would assume the opposite. This happens because hotter stars release more energy on the blue end of the visible light spectrum and colder stars release more light on the red end of the visible light spectrum.

One of my other favorite blog posts was my Solar System post. I really enjoyed this post because it made me realize so much about not the world we live in, but everything outside of it. I learned how our galaxy came to be, or how it is assumed it came to be anyway. It is believed that our solar system formed around what is called a “wolf rayet star” which is the hottest burning star that will eventually become a supernova. I discovered that solar systems and planets are formed by gases, and/or, rocky material that gets hot enough to start coming together. Then, a planet is created. These gases and rocky materials obtain their heat from the Sun. The reason I found this to be so interesting is because our solar system is amazing. We have planets all revolving around one gigantic star, all in a straight line going in a (almost) perfect circle- it’s crazy to even think about. I thought it was very interesting to learn how we came to be and learn how it works. After all, we are the “only planet” with living creatures on it- it’s amazing.

Before taking this class, I thought astronomy was going to be so much different. In my mind I pictured us having to memorize all the planets, calculate how to see how a star is and all of those things that seem impossible to a person that does not study space. I can say I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome. Instead of having to memorize things that don’t necessarily matter (to my everyday life) we learned about the interesting and intriguing parts. We learned how things came to be, why things are hot or cold or big or small. I overall thought each objective was so interesting in its own way. I will admit, writing these blog posts were not my favorite thing to do but it was a very good way to get the material to stick. We would do power points, clicker questions, and then these blog posts so by the end of each objective I really felt like I knew what was going on. I would definitely encourage future students to do the blog posts but do them ON TIME, something I struggled with myself. But they are very useful and helped me to better understand everything by significant amount.

Astronomy 101 Final!!!

Before taking Astronomy 101 I thought this class would be really boring, but to my surprise it was not as boring as I thought. I assumed that everything we did would be very dry and not fun. It turned out to be kind of fun.

The things I enjoyed about writing blog posts were learning more on what we talked about in that objective. It is really interesting to expand the knowledge that we talked about in class. What I disliked about blog posts is that sometimes I was not in the mood to ready to read about stuff that has happened in space related to the objective. Another thing that I did not like about the blog posts is that they were time consuming and took a good amount of time in order to get a four or five.

I feel that I learned more than I expected about the universe/solar system/stars because what I learned in class I was able to apply it outside of the classroom, weather it was in my astro-journal or just answering questions about the universe/solar system/stars. I feel more knowledgeable about the universe/solar system/stars so I feel like I can answer just about any question with something that I read in a blog post or from something we did in class.

Not having in-class exams or quizzes was beneficial to my learning of astronomy because it was much less stressful to learn without knowing that I would be tested on this stuff. If we were tested I feel like more people would be stressed out because some of the stuff can be difficult to comprehend and learn. This class was laid back and is a nice class to take at eight am.

The conceptual objective that I struggled with the most was objective 7, with the Doppler Shift because for some reason I had a hard time understanding how this shift works. I did terrible on pages 75-80 in the lecture tutorial. I got maybe three of the twenty question right on the whole tutorial.

I would recommend that future Astronomy 101 classes continue to do class blogs because our class had to do it so they should have to do it too. Its only fair, that if we had to do it they need to as well. It was not fun to do so they should feel the pain that we had felt.

Final Blog Post

Before taking this class, I thought astronomy was going to be memorizing different constellations and planets in solar systems and the phases of the moon.   I figured that we might learn some complicated math equations, and thank god we didn’t.  The class consisted of learning a lot about stars, how they form, what there made of, different types, their movement and rotations, their relation to each other and planets around them, and their deaths.  We did not discuss black holes as much as I had liked, there are very mysterious and astronomers do not know a lot about them.  But I guess that worked out in my favor because they seem very complicated.

I think that reading current events in astronomy is important, and not as boring as I expected it to be.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the discovery and searches for planets similar to Earth.  I also liked reading about what types of discoveries and photos telescopes like Hubble have found because they are beautiful to look at and learning what the photo actually means astronomically is pretty interesting.  Sometimes the articles would go into mathematical or very scientific reasoning’s and I would get lost, but the background information from class mixed with the learning tutorials in our booklets definitely helped while reading.

Not having in-class exams was not beneficial to my learning because although I worried about my grade less, I often had a hard time relating the blog posts back to class.  In the future maybe require the students to take notes, because I regretted not taking them when the class started.  It is much easier to complete the relation back to class part in our astro journals and our blog posts when their are notes to look back at.Or maybe more in-class/out-of-class assignments so that the students get a better understanding of the material and the conceptual objectives.

Some of my favorite blog posts were conceptual objective 2, 14, and 17.  I enjoyed the second objective the most because I thought it was the most interesting.  I never thought about the fact that other planets might have seasons, I just thought oh that planet is extremely far from the sun so its cold there.  The article I choose discussed what planets do not have seasons through explaining its tilt in space and how quick or slow its rotating.  Learning about Jupiter’s red eye storm and how its been occurring for over 300 years was crazy to read.  This class has made me realize I really enjoy learning about other planets and comparing their similarities and differences to Earth, so I will probably continue to read up on that after the class ends.  I enjoyed writing blog post 15 because I thought it was pretty interesting and easy to write about.  In many of the articles I looked at for this blog post had many beautiful picture to look at, which always make reading these articles more fun.  What I enjoyed most about this concept what learning the science behind the amazing photos I saw.  Learning that when stars die their nuclei heats up quicker to produce the amazing lights and colorful clouds in space was very interesting to learn, and I had an easy time understanding this object in class so finding an article and writing about it was fast and simple.  The final blog post was one of the most interesting to write about because it was a quick synopsis of everything we learned about applied to the new discoveries and continuous understanding of space.  While writing it I learned even more about how the Hubble telescope has been monumental in the understandings about space and scientific breakthroughs.

I struggles a lot in the beginning because of the fact that writing blog posts was new to me so I was unsure of the requirements and the format, and also because I felt that those conceptual objectives were much harder to write about compared to the ones towards the end of the class. Newton and Kepler’s Laws and the Doppler Effect were the hardest blog posts for me.  I found them very uninteresting, which made it harder to learn about, and these felt more on the physics side of astronomy which I am horrible at so that didn’t help either.  But I’m sure if I took notes during the class it would have been much easier to write these blog posts.

My Last “Hurrah”! (My Favorite Blog Posts + Parting Words on Astronomy 101)

https://jjcastronomy.wordpress.com/2018/04/30/the-theoretical-antithesis-of-one-of-the-weirdest-objects-in-our-universe/

This one has to be one of my favorites just because of how bizarre it is.  This blog post talks about a theoretical source of dark matter.  The thing that makes this post interesting is that the objects that are the focus of this post, white holes,  are objects that repel all light from themselves.  This makes them quite the opposite from the objects they are theorized to come from, black holes.  Also, I found it amazing how old the article estimates a black hole has to be to become a white hole.

This post was for the fourteenth objective, which was on how stars evolve and die.  This objective taught me a little more on how both smaller and larger stars go through their life cycles. While I knew about white dwarfs, supernovas and black holes, I did not know exactly how they formed and why they explode like they do.  Learning about how nuclear fusion in stars eventually makes heavier elements than helium, now I know how these celestial objects form.

https://jjcastronomy.wordpress.com/2018/05/05/our-current-map-of-the-milky-way-one-percent-complete-estimated/

Now, the reason I found this post to be interesting is because it put into perspective how hard it is to map out our own galaxy right now.  I always thought that we, as scientists, had a fairly complete map of our galaxy.  The article within this blog post proves otherwise.  It makes sense, though, seeing as our galaxy has billions of stars, that we only have uncovered a sliver of our galaxy.

That is the main idea that was taught to me through this objective, objective fifteen, which was on describing the dimensions of the Milky Way Galaxy. I never really thought about exactly how massive the Milky Way Galaxy really was, and how hard  it would be to observe it while being within it.  It comes to show how small the Earth is compared to a lot of other objects in space!

Overall, I believe I have learned a fair amount of astronomy through this class.  While I knew some things before this class, like how black holes form and how our Solar System formed, this course gave me even more knowledge on this amazing scientific field.  As I said in the paragraphs pertaining to the blog posts, this course brought me to articles that amazed me with just how massive and complex our Universe is.  If I had not taken this course, I would have never learned about these concepts.  As such, I had an amazing experience with taking Astronomy 101, and I would not hesitate to suggest this course to anyone who has any interest in this field.

Final Assessment

Before starting this class, I thought astronomy was just looking up at the sky and determining a bunch of facts off of what you saw. I now know that there is so much more that meets the eye when it comes to this subject and how deep the field is as far as all the information can be gathered from a simple glance. Some of my favorite posts from this semester would have to be the one about telescopes. I went into detail about how there is a concern in the astronomical field at the moment about budgetary problems when it comes to these new, very expensive space telescopes. The James Webb Telescope which is still being developed started with an initial cost around 1 billion dollars, but now with its 2020 launch date is said to cost somewhere around the 9 billion dollar mark. That is so much money for one very fancy piece of equipment and concerns me because I’m sure that money could get put to use in other similar fields and have great implications. It seems that some astronomers and scientists believe that there should be a push for more ground telescopes, which cost nothing compared to these new space telescopes. Another one of my favorite posts was about how stars are made and got into detail about recent discoveries in that field. I never knew that stars were made from molecular clouds of gas and dust in space that actually fuse in a way to create these unique stars. Also, there is a very important molecular cloud called “Musca” that is supposed to be responsible for multiple stars being created over the years. The creation of stars is not a simple or fast process, if anything it is long and very complex from start to finish, which seems fitting for how unique these shining lights in the sky are. It seems that as much as people seem to know about the solar system, one new discovery comes along and shifts our perspective and focus making the field one that is constantly changing and never the same day in and day out. One part of the class that I felt was very beneficial was the lectures and in class demonstrations. Especially when we were talking about light spectrum and there are many tough concepts and ideas behind it, but when we wore the glasses and viewed how certain lights are visible under certain conditions, it really sank in. I think it’s a well balanced class due to the fact that hard abstract ideas in the field are broken down for us with examples and in class exercises really helping us learn what’s going on. Without that, it’s just simply read the book and try to understand these in depth concepts that astronomy has to offer. Everyone learns different and I liked that with each new chapter came with it notes and interpretation along with examples. Working with classmates trying to figure out problems we may get stuck on was very positive as well. Sometimes I would understand something that another classmate was stuck on and getting some feedback from them proved to help out a lot. I feel in the next 10 years the importance of allocating the money where it needs to go most in the astronomical field will be the biggest challenge because NASA doesn’t grow money on trees quite yet and there are areas that demand more attention that haven’t been getting it. The next President could have a big impact on our world as a whole and how we choose to deal with it. I hope we have more of a focus on longevity for sustaining life on this earth for years to come, and finally tackle the global warming crisis that most people look right past. Having said that, there is no telling that an asteroid ten times the size of earth could be headed straight for us one day and we wont know until that day gets here.

My Reformed Outlook on Astronomy!

https://jjcastronomy.wordpress.com/2018/03/22/seasons-4/

https://jjcastronomy.wordpress.com/2018/02/16/causes-of-moon-phases/

https://jjcastronomy.wordpress.com/2018/05/10/age-and-the-expansion-of-our-universe/

Honestly speaking, I had more than three favorite posts but the ones I selected above were among my most favorite submissions. The reason being, blog post two and three were simple and easy to visualize. I am someone who likes to visualize the content I learn. If I cannot picture any material presented to me, I fail to completely appreciate or comprehend it. The class discussions on seasons and moon phases were more than a discussion, a lecture tutorial, reading reflection or even a blog post. They was something I could practice daily by observing the moon phases and understanding what I was viewing and also better treasuring nature throughout the seasons. This granted me a different sense of appreciation for the universe and what it offers to us

As for my last selection, the objective on age and expansion of universe, it just epitomized the purpose and beauty of astronomy. The biggest lesson I learned from that was to enjoy our Universe the way it is, what it has to offer because we can only do so while we’re here, especially since it is escalating away from us at this exponential rate with every moment that passes.

The most surprising that about astronomy is that it is a much broader discussion than just stars and constellations. I thought that’s what this class was consisted of. Of course, I was taken by surprise as to how inclusive this science is. I enjoyed writing blog posts especially since there was the luxury of submitting them at our convenience and resubmitting them if we were not content with the ratings. There isn’t much I could complain about here! I would highly suggest that if anyone gets a chance to take this class, run with the opportunity. It will be worth your time, effort and struggles.

As for my struggles, I struggled mostly with finding relevant news articles on the specific objectives, not necessarily with the content. However, for the sake of answering this question, I struggled mostly with objective five. In this objective, I had to apply Kepler’s laws of planetary motion. There were two reasons as to why I struggled with this. One, I could not visualize what I learned. Two, I could not connect what I learned in class to what was in the articles I came across. There were other objectives I struggled with, but I define that as a growing experience more than anything. Sometimes, I felt that my response was not developed but I was wrong. Despite my struggles, I believe the blog posts and astro-journals were among the more beneficial aspects of this class.

My understanding of astronomy changed immensely throughout the course of this semester because initially I thought about dropping this class and taking another science class. This was not my cup of tea, but I am glad I hung in there. This class gave me something more than reading assignments and the typical things a student does in every other class. It gave me a better understanding of my surroundings and a different outlook on our universe. It forced me

to broaden my horizons and look beyond what my physical eyes could see. The treasure of examples I learned in class and from my research outside of class presented how the study of astronomy impacts technology, economy and society by continuously pushing for instruments, procedures and software that are outside our current proficiencies. Along with all this, astronomy debunked many mythical notions and clarified many concepts for me. I also enjoyed that I had a platform to articulate my reflections on. That was perhaps my favorite part of it all – the chance to reflect and ponder over everything I learned.

Alas, my only piece of advice to myself would have been to be less stressed about the grade or ratings and enjoy the learning experience. At times, (or I should say, always) I was too caught up in trying to exceed expectations (which may not be a bad thing) but that blurred the purpose of this course. I always wanted fives and nothing less. Thankfully, as the semester progressed I became much more comfortable with the structure of the course, grading scale and etc. which led me to savor its sweetness.