Spring 2005

SCIE 634
The New Solar System


01/25/2005 - 05/03/2005
Tuesday 06:30 PM - 09:00 PM

Van Vleck Observatory 110

Our knowledge of the solar system—the planets, moons, asteroids, comets, and meteoroids that orbit the Sun—has vastly increased during the space age. NASA planetary probes as well as ground-based and orbiting telescopes, including the Hubble Space Telescope, have dramatically improved our views of what is "out there."

In this course, we will review what has been learned about the worlds around us from these studies and what it implies for the past and future of our planet—the Earth. We will discuss the increasing evidence that the solar system is not a unique construction in the Universe, but a common form; this includes the issue of searches for extraterrestrial intelligence. Telescopes and equipment of the Van Vleck Observatory will be used as weather permits to view objects under discussion.

The treatment of these subjects is primarily non-mathematical, and no familiarity with astronomy is assumed.

William Herbst, (B.A. Princeton University; M.Sc. University Toronto, Ph.D. University Toronto), is John Monroe Van Vleck Professor of Astronomy and has served as Chair of the Astronomy Department and Director of Van Vleck Observatory. He and his team of students have discovered a sun-like star that is eclipsed in a way never before seen -- not by another star, planet or moon, but by dust grains, rocks and maybe even asteroids orbiting it in a clumpy circumstellar disk. This discovery has received international attention and continues to open new doors in studying the origins and evolution of planets. He is primary or contributing author of more than 250 publications in the astronomical literature, including the recent "Reflected Light from Sand Grains in the Terrestrial Zone of a Protoplanetary Disk" Nature (2008). Click here for more information about William Herbst.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
Kelly Beatty, THE NEW SOLAR SYSTEM (Cambridge University Press), Paperback


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