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Chapter 1


Section Learning Outcomes
Section 1
  • Produce a scale model of the solar system.
  • Identify some strengths and limitations of scale models.
  • Calculate distances to objects in the universe in astronomical units (AU), light-years, and parsecs (pc).
Section 2
  • Construct a model of the night sky to understand how star maps work.
  • Describe the coordinate system used to locate objects in the sky.
  • Identify patterns in the organization and distribution of matter in the universe.
Section 3
  • Describe the Doppler effect.
  • Explain the big bang theory of how the universe was formed and the evidence supporting it.
  • Explain the nebular theory of the formation of the solar system.
  • Examine planetary systems outside of our solar system.
Section 4
  • Measure the major axis and distance between the foci of an ellipse.
  • Examine the relationship between the distance between the foci and eccentricity of an ellipse.
  • Calculate the eccentricity of Earth’s orbit.
  • Draw Earth’s changing orbit in relation to the Sun.
  • Explain how Earth’s changing orbit and its rotation rate could affect its climate.
  • Draw the orbits of a comet and an asteroid in relation to Earth and the Sun.
Section 5
  • Investigate lunar phases using a model and observations in your community.
  • Investigate the general idea of tidal forces.
  • Explore the role of Earth, the Moon, and the Sun in creating tides on Earth.
  • Assess the Sun-Earth-Moon system and the Moon’s likely origin.
  • Compare the appearance of the Moon to other bodies in the solar system.
Section 6
  •  Investigate the mechanics of an impact event and make scale drawings of an impact crater.
  • Calculate the energy (in joules) released when an asteroid collides with Earth.
  • Compare natural and human-made disasters to the impact of an asteroid.
  • Examine the consequences to your community should an impact event occur.
  • Investigate the chances for an asteroid or comet collision
Section 7
  • Explain electromagnetic radiation and the electromagnetic spectrum in terms of wavelength, speed, and energy.
  • Investigate the different instruments astronomers use to detect different wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum.
  • Understand that the atoms of each of the chemical elements have a unique spectral fingerprint.
  • Explain how electromagnetic radiation reveals the temperature and chemical makeup of objects such as stars.
  • Understand that some forms of electromagnetic radiation are essential and beneficial to us on Earth, and others are harmful.
Section 8
  • Explore the structure of the Sun and describe the flow of solar energy in terms of reflection, absorption, and scattering.
  • Understand that the Sun emits charged particles called the solar wind, and how this wind affects “space weather.”
  • Explain the effect of solar wind on people and communities.
  • Understand sunspots, solar flares, and other kinds of solar activities and their effects on Earth.
  • Learn to estimate the chances of solar activity affecting your community.
Section 9
  • Identify the place of our solar system in the Milky Way Galaxy.
  • Study stellar structure and the stellar evolution (the life cycle of stars).
  • Explore the relationship between the brightness of an object (its luminosity) and its magnitude.
  • Estimate the chances of another star affecting Earth in some way.

Use the navigation on the left to find materials that support the relevant sections of this chapter.