astlbsol - Laboratory 5 - The Solar System Materials Used:...

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33 Laboratory 5 - The Solar System Materials Used: Two-meter sticks, photographs of the planets, flashlight, a sheet of graph paper. Objectives: To investigate the size, shape and organization of the solar system; to study the motion of bodies within the solar system and to gain insight into Kepler’s Laws. Discussion: As we learned in the last lab, our solar system consists of the Sun, eight planets, and a number of smaller objects that orbit the sun in the same direction (ccl as viewed from above) in the ecliptic plane. Comets are the only notable exception to this arrangement. Mercury's orbit is inclined about 7 o relative to the plane of the solar system but it is so close to the sun that it never appears far from the ecliptic. Kepler’s Laws Kepler’s Laws are a masterpiece of empiricism . Johannes Kepler (1571 – 1630) inherited an entire career’s worth of observational data on the solar system meticulously acquired by his mentor, Tyco Brahe. Kepler lived in an age when the difference between astronomy and astrology was not well- defined - and both were considered disciplines subordinate to mathematics. Curiously, the emerging field of physics was considered philosophic in nature and not an integral part of astronomy/astrology. As did many scientists of his time, Kepler incorporated elements of mysticism and religion into some of his theories concerning the solar system. His eponymous three laws, however, are the result of a careful and refined scientific evaluation of observational data. Kepler’s conclusions on the movements of planets in our solar system are empirical because they are based not on any extrapolation from physical laws (Newton’s Principia would not be published for another 75 years), but on a careful study of the positions of the planets over time using Tyco’s observations. By carefully plotting the movements of the planets, and studying the relationships between their positions and time, Kepler was able to derive three important relationships involving the orbits of objects in our solar system. Though Newton subsequently offered a more exacting way of describing the mechanics of the solar system, Kepler’s Laws are to this day very important in illustrating and understanding the dynamics of our solar system. Kepler, along with his contemporary Galileo, were among last major figures in the Renaissance era of science. The coming of Isaac Newton and his mathematically rigorous view of celestial mechanics based on fundamental physical laws ushered in the modern era of science and sped the maturation of the field of physics. With the dawn of the modern era astrology was no longer considered a part of astronomy (or even science) and astronomy became a discipline within physics. Most (though certainly not all) modern discoveries in astronomy employ, at some level, Newton’s Laws to ascertain the existence of heretofore unknown celestial objects.
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astlbsol - Laboratory 5 - The Solar System Materials Used:...

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