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The Earth in the Universe The Universe • The universe is made up of many galaxies. • Galaxies are made up of many stars. • Some stars have planetary systems similar to our solar system. • Earth is a satellite planet of one particular star…. our Sun. Where is our solar system located? • Our solar system is located in the Milky Way Galaxy. • The Milky Way is part of a cluster of about 30 other galaxies. Building Our Milky Way • The central bulge is at the center. • Spiral arms are around the central bulge. They contain mostly blue stars, gas and dust. • The Earth is located in one of the spiral arms. • There are blue stars and red stars in our galaxy. • Blue stars are young and hot stars. • Red stars are old and cool stars. Where is the Earth located? • Earth is the 3rd planet from the Sun in our solar system. Is the Earth Round? • Technically, Earth is an oblate spheroid. • It is wider at the equator than at the poles. • This is caused by the rotation of the Earth on its axis. Earth’s Axis • The Earth’s axis is an imaginary line that runs through the center of the Earth from the north pole to the south pole. • The Earth is “tilted” with relation to this imaginary line 23.5⁰ Earth’s Rotation • One rotation about the Earth’s axis takes 24 hours. This is called a day. • Rotation about the Earth’s occurs from west to east. (Counter clockwise) • Earth’s rotation is the cause for day and night. What happens when the direction of the axis changes? • The change in the direction of the Earth’s axis is called precession. • The angle remains the same. • This will affect the stars near the poles • Does not change the seasons as long as the 23.5⁰ tilt stays the same. Nutation • The “wobble” about the precessional axis is called nutation. • Nutation is a change in the in the angle of tilt by ½ ⁰ one way or the other. Results in the tilt either being 23⁰ or 24⁰. • This occurs over an 18 year period. • This is due to the Moon. • This causes a slight change in the seasons. Barycenter • A barycenter is the point between two objects where they balance each other. • Its kind of like the center of gravity. • The center of gravity is the point in the middle of all the material that makes up an object, mass. Center Point of Gravity and Barycenter • When a moon orbits a planet, or a planet orbits a star, both bodies are orbiting around a point that lies outside the larger body. • The moon does not orbit the exact center of the Earth, but a point about 1710 km below the Earth’s surface. • The sun is not stationary in the solar system. It moves as the planets tug on it, but it never gets too far from the solar system barycenter. Planetary Orbits and Kepler’s Law Kepler • Johannes Kepler was a German mathematician, astronomer and astrologer. • He was a key figure in the 17th century scientific revolution. • Kepler’s Laws describe the motion of the planets around the sun. • Kepler knew of 6 planets: Earth, Venus, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Kepler’s First Law • States that planets move around the sun in ellipses, with the sun at one focus. • What does this really mean? – This means that the distance between the planet and the sun varies, as the planet goes around. Kepler’s Second Law of Planetary Motion Each planet moves around the Sun so that an imaginary line joining the planet and the Sun will sweep over equal areas in time This means that because the orbits are elliptical, the planet’s travel at different speeds at different positions in the orbit. Perihelion (a) The planet’s position in it’s orbit where it is closest to the Sun. (b) The speed is fastest at perihelion Aphelion (a) The planet’s position in it’s orbit where it is farthest from the Sun. (b) The speed is slowest at aphelion Earth’s Orbit Kepler’s Third Law of Planetary Motion The farther a planet is from the Sun, the longer it takes to make one complete revolution. The Sun Parts of the Sun • The sun has a core, a radioactive zone, and a convective zone. • The sun is composed of gas and has no solid surface. • The two gases that make up the sun are hydrogen and helium. • Compared to other stars, our sun is medium sized and has a medium temperature. However, it is still VERY hot! Producing Energy • Gravity pulls all of the mass inward, creating intense pressure. • The pressure is high enough to force 2 atoms of hydrogen to fuse into an atom of helium (fusion). • Heat is released during this reaction and so is radiation (in all parts of the electromagnetic spectrum). This radiation strikes Earth, helping heat the atmosphere, drive our weather, and provide energy for life. Solar Wind Protection • The Earth is protected from the solar wind by it’s magnetic field which extends from the core. How does the Sun support life on Earth? • Photosynthesis is the process by which green plants and other photosynthetic organisms make their own food. • Green plants take in carbon dioxide, water and sunlight and produces oxygen while making their food. Differentiated Heating by the Sun • As the Earth moves around the sun, different parts of the Earth get different amounts of solar radiation. • The tropics get more solar radiation than the poles, so it is warmer there year round. Sun and Seasons • The Earth’s movement around the Sun is called a revolution. • The revolution and the tilt are the main causes of the seasons.