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~ he science of astronomy is a rational way of knowing and understanding the origins of Earth the
solar system, and the universe. Earth was once thought to be unique, different in every way from
, anything else in the universe. However, through the science of astronomy, we have discovered
that Earth and the Sun are similar to other objects in the universe and that the physical laws that apply
i on Earth seem to apply everywhere in the universe
How did our understanding of the universe change so drastically‘? In this chapter we examine the
transformation from the ancient view of the universe, which focused on the positions and movements
of celestial objects, to the modern perspective, which focuses on understanding how these objects
came to be and why they move the way they do

To assist you in learning the important concepts in this chapter, focus on the following questions
Q What is the geocentric view of the universe and how does it differ from the heliocentric view?
Q What occurred during the “Golden Age" of early astronomy and where was it located?
Q How does Ptolemy’s model account forthe observed motions of the celestial bodies including retrograde motion?
G Who was the first modern astronomer to advocate a heliocentric model for the solar system?
® What were the contributions to modern astronomy of Nicolaus Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Johannes Kepler
Galileo Galilei, and Issac Newton?
Q What are perturbations?
Q How does modern astronomy use constellations?
® What is the equatorial system?
® What are some of the primary motions of Earth?
Q What is the difference between a synodic month and a sidereal month?
@ What causes the phases of the moon?
Q What causes a solar eclipse? What causes a lunar eclipse?

i= FLY51’P§i -*'i ‘i Chomsung Dae Observatory in Kyongju, Korea This

simple structure, with a central opening in the roof, resembles a
Ancient Astronomy number of ancient observatories found around the world (Photo by
Steven Vidler/Eurasia Press/CORBIS)
Long before recorded history, people were aware ofthe close rela-
tionship between events on Earth and the positions of heavenly
bodies. They realized that changes in the seasons and floods of
great rivers such as the Nile in Egypt occurred when certain celes-
tial bodies, including the Sun, Moon, planets, and stars, reached
particular places in the heavens. Early agrarian cultures, whose
survival depended on seasonal change, believed that if these
heavenly objects could control the seasons, they could also
strongly influence all Earthly events. These beliefs undoubtedly
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encouraged early civilizations to begin keeping records of the K?‘

positions of celestial objects.

The origin of astronomy began more than 5,000 years ago
when humans began to track the motion of celestial objects so
they knew when to plant their crops or prepare to hunt migrating -ml

herds The ancient Chinese, Egyptians, and Babylo- ~.__.:-’,._-_¢ .-.

nians are well known for their record keeping. These cultures
recorded the locations of the Sun, Moon, and the five visible plan- E al._..._,%____;_
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ets as these objects moved slowly against the background of “fixed”
stars. Eventually, it was not enough to track the motions of celes-
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Greeks realized that the motion of the stars could be explained
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just as easily by a rotating Earth, but they rejected that idea
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because Earth exhibits no sense of motion and seemed too large

to be movable. In fact, proof of Earth’s rotation was not demon-
l strated until 1851.
To the Greeks, all of the heavenly bodies, except seven,
appeared to remain in the same relative position to one another.
These seven Wanderers (planetai in Greek) included the Sun, the
Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Iupiter, and Saturn. Each was
~ .1 §{.._.....J{ I NM thought to have a circular orbit around Earth. Although this sys-
tem was incorrect, the Greeks refined it to the point that it
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The famous Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) con-
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cluded that Earth is spherical because it always casts a curved
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shadow when it eclipses the moon. Although most of Aristotle’s
teachings were considered infallible by many for centuries after his
1T1-Pi The Bayeux Tapestry that hangs in Bayeux, France,
shows the apprehension caused by Halley’s comet in A.D. 1066. This death, his beliefin a spherical Earth was lost during the Middle Ages.
event preceded the defeat of King Harold by William the Conqueror.
(“Sighting of a comet. ” Detail from Bayeux Tapestry. Musee de la Tapisserie, Bayeux. Measuring the Earth's Circumference The first successful
“With special authorization of the City of Bayeux. " Bridgeman-Giraudon/Art attempt to establish the size of Earth is credited to Eratosthenes
Resource, NY)
(276—194 B.c.). Eratosthenes observed the angles of the noonday
Sun in two Egyptian cities that were roughly north and south
tial objects; predicting their future positions (to avoid getting mar- of each other—Syene (presently Aswan) and Alexandria
ried at an unfavorable time, for example) became important. ..-/-Ii).
Finding that the angles of the noonday sun differed
A study of Chinese archives shows that the Chinese recorded by 7 degrees, or 1/50 of a complete circle, he concluded that the
every appearance of the famous Halley’s Comet for at least 10 cen-
turies. However, because this comet appears only once every 76
years, they were unable to link these appearances to establish that
The Chinese recorded the sudden appearance of a
what they saw was the same object multiple times. Like most “guest star" in 1054 A.D. The scattered remains of that supernova is
ancients, the Chinese considered comets to be mystical. Gener- the Crab Nebula in the constellation Taurus. This image comes from
ally, comets were seen as bad omens and were blamed for a vari- the Hubble Space Telescope. (NASA)
ety of disasters, from wars to plagues In addition,
the Chinese kept quite accurate records of “guest stars.” Today we
know that a “guest star” is a normal star, usually too faint to be
visible, which increases its brightness as it explosively ejects gases
from its surface, a phenomenon we call a nova (nouns = new) or

The Golden Age of Astronomy

The “Golden Age” of early astronomy (600 B.C.—A.D. 150) was cen-
tered in Greece. Although the early Greeks have been criticized,
and rightly so, for using purely philosophical arguments to explain
natural phenomena, they employed observational data as well.
The basics of geometry and trigonometry, which they developed,
were used to measure the sizes of and distances to the largest-
appearing bodies in the heavens—-the Sun and the Moon.
The early Greeks held the incorrect geocentric (geo : Earth,
centric = centered) view of the universe—which professed that
Earth was a sphere that remained motionless at the center of the
universe. Orbiting Earth were the Moon, Sun, and known plan-
ets—Mercury, Venus, Mars, Iupiter, and Saturn. The Sun and
614 CHAPTER 21 Origins of Modern Astronomy

A Sun-Centered Universe? The first Greek to profess a Sun-

arm -- 7. centered, or heliocentric (helios = Sun, centric = centered),
universe was Aristarchus (312-230 B.c.). Aristarchus also used sim-
ple geometric relations to calculate the relative distances from Earth
to the SLH1 and the Moon. He later used these data to calculate their
.. W. NL:
| sizes. As a result of an observational error beyond his control, he
came up with measurements that were much too small. However,
he did discover that the Sun was many times more distant than the
i. 1, Moon and many times larger than Earth. The latter fact may have
prompted him to suggest a Sun-centered universe. Nevertheless,
because of the strong influence of Aristotle’s writings, the Earth-
centered view dominated Western thought for nearly 2,000 years.

., , _ _ Post at Mapping the Stars Probably the greatest of the early Greek
. . 7 angle. Alexandria
astronomers was Hipparchus (2nd century B.c.), best known for
Center , S ' P his star catalogue. Hipparchus determined the location of almost
' ofEarth _ T . ' E. "L;-Fl
850 stars, which he divided into six groups according to their
7-..ang|e* _ 7 _ ‘ It at
brightness. (This system is still used today.) He measured the
(‘/50 ofa circle) - length of the year to within minutes of the modern value and
~ (
* Sun's rays developed a method for predicting the times of lunar eclipses to
within a few hours.
Although many of the Greek discoveries were lost during the
E’.i..»‘fi Orientation of the Sun's rays at Syene (Aswan) and Middle Ages, the Earth-centered view that the Greeks proposed
Alexandria in Egypt on June 21 when Eratosthenes calculated
became entrenched in Europe. Presented in its finest form by
Earth's circumference.
Claudius Ptolemy, this geocentric outlook became known as the
Ptolemaic System.

circumference of Earth must be 50 times the distance between Ptolemy’s Model

these two cities. The cities were 5,000 stadia apart, giving him a Much of our knowledge of Greek astronomy comes from a l3-vol-
measurement of 250,000 stadia. Many historians believe the ume treatise, Almagest (the great work), which was compiled by
stadia was 157.6 meters (517 feet), which would make Eratos- Ptolemy in A.D. I41. In addition to presenting a summary of Greek
thenes’s calculation of Earth’s circumference—39,400 kilometers astronomical knowledge, Ptolemy is credited with developing a
(24,428 miles)— very close to the modern value of 40,075 kilo- model of the universe that accounted for the observable motions
meters (24,902 miles). of the celestial bodies (1:%i‘i¢;_,u;ii~s

i"§-Pijiiiiifi . Ii The
i universe according to
5 I- Ptolemy, second
i century A.D. A. Ptolemy
' believed that the star-
studded celestial
sphere made a daily
trip around a
motionless Earth. In
addition, he proposed
that the Sun, Moon,
and planets made trips
of various lengths
along individual orbits.
B. A three-dimensional
model of an Earth-
centered system.
Ptolemy likely utilized
something similar to
this to calculate the
motions of the
heavens. (Photo by The
Bridgeman Art Library)

A. B.
Ancient Astronomy 6'15

?:'l..6 Retrograde (backward) \

motion of Mars as seen against the .
background of distant stars. When
viewed from Earth, Mars moves
eastward among the stars each day,
then periodically appears to stop and
reverse direction. This apparent
westward drift is a result of the fact
that Earth has a faster orbital speed
than Mars and overtakes it. As this
occurs, Mars appears to be moving
backward, that is, it exhibits
retrograde motion.

In the Greek tradition, the Ptolemaic model had the planets as he did, considering that he used an incorrect model. The pre-
moving in perfect circular orbits around a motionless Earth. (The cision with which his model was able to predict planetary motion
Greeks considered the circle to be the pure and perfect shape.) is attested to by the fact that it went virtually unchallenged, in
However, the motion ofthe planets, as seen against the background principle if not in detail, until the 17th century. When Ptolemy's
of stars, is not so simple. Each planet, if watched night after night, predicted positions for the planets became out of step with the
moves slightly eastward among the stars. Periodically, each planet observed positions (which took 100 years or more), his model was
appears to stop, reverse direction for a period of time, and then simply recalibrated using the new observed positions as a start-
resume an eastward motion. The apparent westward drift is called ing point.
retrograde (retro = to go back, gradus = walking) motion. This With the decline of the Roman Empire around the 4th cen-
rather odd apparent motion results from the combination of the tury, much of the accumulated knowledge disappeared as
motion of Earth and the planet’s own motion around the Sun. libraries were destroyed. After the decline of Greek and Roman
The retrograde motion of Mars is shown in civilizations, the center of astronomical study moved east to Bagh-
Because Earth has a faster orbital speed than Mars, it overtakes its dad where, fortunately, Ptolemy’s work was translated into Arabic.
neighbor. While doing so, Mars appears to be moving backward, Later, Arabic astronomers expanded Hipparchus’s star catalog
in retrograde motion. This is analogous to what a
driver sees out the side window when passing a
:2; Ptolemy's explanation of retrograde motion—the backward motion of
slower car. The slower planet, like the slower car, planets against the background of fixed stars. In Ptolemy's model, the planets move on
appears to be going backward, although its actual small circles (epicycles) while they orbit Earth on larger circles (deferents). Through trial
motion is in the same direction as the faster-mov- and error, Ptolemy discovered the right combination of circles to produce the retrograde
ing body. motion observed for each planet.
It is difficult to accurately represent retrograde 1
motion using the incorrect Earth-centered model, I
but that is what Ptolemy was able to accomplish
ztiiifi). Rather than using a single circle for
each planet’s orbit, he proposed that the planets
orbited on small circles (epicycles), revolving along
large circles (deferents). By trial and error, he found
the right combination of circles to produce the
amount of retrograde motion observed for each
planet. (An interesting note is that almost any
closed curve can be produced by the combination
of two circular motions, a fact that can be verified
by anyone who has used the Spirograph“ design-
drawing toy.)
It is a tribute to Ptolemy’s genius that he was
able to account for the planets’ motions as well
616 CHAPTER 21 Origins of Modern Astronomy

and divided the sky into 48 constellations—the foundation of our

present-day constellation system. It wasn't until some time after
the 10th century that the ancient Greeks’ contributions to as-
tronomy were reintroduced to Europe through the Arabic
community. The Ptolemaic model soon dominated European
thought as the correct representation of the heavens, which cre-
ated problems for anyone who found errors in it.

CONCEPT cnscx 2 1.1

Q Why did the ancients believe that celestial objects had some
influence over their lives?
Q What is the modern explanation of the “guest stars” that sud-
denly appeared in the night sky?
Q Explain the geocentric view of the universe.
Q In the Greek model of the universe what were the seven wan-
derers or planets? How were they different from stars?
Q Describe what produces the retrograde motion of Mars. What
geometric arrangements did Ptolemy use to explain this

it Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543)

believed that Earth was just another planet. (Detlev van Ravenswaay/Photo
The Birth of Modern Researchers, Inc.)

Astronomy link to the past and used circles to represent the orbits of the plan-
Ptolemy's Earth-centered universe was not discarded overnight. ets. Because of this Copernicus was unable to accurately predict
Modern astronomy’s development was more than a scientific the future locations ofthe planets. Copernicus found it necessary
endeavor, it required a break from deeply entrenched philo- to add smaller circles (epicycles) like those used by Ptolemy. The
sophical and religious views that had been a basic part ofWestern discovery that the planets actually have elliptical orbits occurred
society for thousands ofyears. Its development was brought about a century later and is credited to Johannes Kepler.
by the discovery of a new and much larger universe governed by Like his predecessors, Copernicus also used philosophical
discernible laws. We examine the work of five noted scientists justifications to support his point of view: “ . . . In the midst of all
involved in this transition from an astronomy that merely stands the Sim. For who could in this most beautiful temple place
describes what is observed, to an astronomy that tries to explain this lamp in another or better place than that from which it can at
what is observed and more importantly why the universe behaves the same time illuminate the whole?”
the way it does. They include Nicolaus Copernicus, Tycho Brahe,
Iohannes Kepler, Galileo Galilei, and Sir Isaac Newton.

Nicolaus Copernicus
For almost 13 centuries after the time of Ptolemy, very few astro-
Students Sometimes Ask...
nomical advances were made in Europe—some were even lost, If Ptolemy's theory was so successful, why was it
including the notion of a spherical Earth. The first great astronomer rejected?
to emerge after the Middle Ages was Nicolaus Copernicus The discovery of Jupiter's strated that Earth was not the
(1473-1543) from Poland After discovering moons showed that there was a center of all motion. Conse-
Aristarchus’s writings, Copernicus became convinced that Earth is fundamental flaw in the Ptole- quently, at least one of the basic
a planet, just like the other five then-known planets. The daily maic theory, which described tenets of the Ptolemaic model
motions of the heavens, he reasoned, could be more simply motion in the universe. Accord- had to be incorrect.
explained by a rotating Earth. ing to Ptolemy's Earth-centered Astronomers soon demon-
Having concluded that Earth is a planet, Copernicus con- model, all heavenly bodies strated that the other basic
structed a heliocentric model for the solar system, with the Sun at revolved around Earth. When assumptions of the Earth-
the center and the planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Iupiter, Galileo, using a crude telescope, centered model were also
and Saturn orbiting it. This was a major break from the ancient saw four moons revolving inconsistent with observations.
and prevailing idea that a motionless Earth lies at the center of around Jupiter, he demon-
all movement in the universe. However, Copernicus retained a
The Birth of Modern Astronomy 617

Copernicus’s monumental work, De Revolutionibus, Orbium '1. [uni IE5 Trcmwis uni-im: o.r.i Lg--if , "_ ' ' ' " '- ,'
.IDlFll'll’ ET IRITIUIIEHTOIIUP-I 1; ' - l ' P '
Coelestiurn (On the Revolution of the Heavenly Spheres), which ASTIONUHIFOIUH $T‘|JC'TOlIS.-
flnnulll i_;a7.n-run av: go. i

set forth his controversial Sun-centered solar system, was pub-

lished as he lay on his deathbed. Hence, he never suffered the

criticisms that fell on many of his followers. Although Coperni- ‘ii, _ /P" - .-"
"-r -'7' Q’

cus’s model was a vast improvement over Ptolemy’s, it did not -5

attempt to explain how planetary motions occurred or why. {kt

The greatest contribution of the Copernican system to modern

science is its challenge ofthe primacy ofEarth in the universe. At the
time this was considered heretical by many Emopeans. Professing
the Sun-centered model cost at least one person his life. Giordano
Bruno was seized by the Inquisition, a Church tribunal, in 1600, and,
refusing to denoruice the Copemican theory, was burned at the stake. __m __. —u--4~ V

Tycho Brahe
Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) was born ofDanish nobility 3 years after
the death of Copernicus. Reportedly, Tycho became interested in
astronomy while viewing a solar eclipse that had been predicted T

by astronomers. He persuaded King Frederick II to establish an

observatory near Copenhagen, which Tycho headed. There he
designed and built pointers (the telescope would not be invented
for a few more decades), which he used for 20 years to systemat-
ically measure the locations of the heavenly bodies in an effort to
disprove the Copernican theory Lt-i-)_His observations,
particularly of Mars, were far more precise than any made previ-
ously and are his legacy to astronomy.
Tycho did not believe in the Copernican model because he
was unable to observe an apparent shift in the position of stars
that should result if Earth traveled around the Sun. His argument
went like this: If Earth orbits the Sun, the position of a nearby star, Q» “A

when observed from two locations in Earth’s orbit 6 months apart, __ .»

___ __
_ . -

should shift with respect to the more distant stars. Tycho was cor- -_

;_ __

-,\.';'— I '” 4 _ --.. 4--

rect, but his measurements did not have great enough precision _
9 __
___,__,;_,_ ____ _ __ ,,_____ _ __ -J_L__
-5- L____,,- '_---'__n-m-_ _,, —---1

to show any displacement. The apparent shift of the stars is called Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) in his observatory, in
stellar parallax and today it is used to measure distances to the Uraniborg, on the Danish island of Hveen. Tycho (central figure) and
nearest stars. (Stellar parallax is discussed in Apendix D, page 720.) the background are painted on the wall of the observatory within the
The principle of parallax is easy to visualize: Close one eye, arc of the sighting instrument called a quadrant. In the far right,
and with your index finger vertical, use your eye to line up your Tycho can be seen "sighting" a celestial object through the "hole" in
the wall. Tycho's accurate measurements of Mars enabled Johannes
finger with some distant object. Now, without moving your fin- Kepler to formulate his three laws of planetary motion. (Courtesy of The
ger, view the object with your other eye and notice that the object’s Bridgeman Library International)
position appears to change. The farther away you hold your fin-
ger, the less the object's position seems to shift. Herein lay the
flaw in Tycho’s argument. He was right about parallax, but the
distance to even the nearest stars is enormous compared to the
Johannes Kepler
width of Earth’s orbit. Consequently, the shift that Tycho was look- If Copernicus ushered out the old astronomy, Iohannes Kepler
ing for is too small to be detected without the aid of a telescope- (1571-1630) ushered in the new Armed with
an instrument that had not yet been invented. Tycho’s data, a good mathematical mind, and, of greater impor-
With the death of his patron, the King of Denmark, Tycho tance, a strong belief in the accuracy of Tycho’s work, Kepler
was forced to leave his observatory. Known for his arrogance derived three basic laws of planetary motion. The first two laws
and extravagant nature, Tycho was unable to continue his work resulted from his inability to fit Tycho’s observations of Mars to a
under Denmark's new ruler. As a result, Tycho moved to Prague circular orbit. Unwilling to concede that the discrepancies were a
in the present-day Czech Republic, where, in the last year of his result of observational error, he searched for another solution.
life, he acquired an able assistant, Johannes Kepler. Kepler This endeavor led him to discover that the orbit of Mars is not a
retained most of the observations made by Tycho and put them perfect circle but is slightly elliptical About the same
to exceptional use. Ironically, the data Tycho collected to refute time, he realized that the orbital speed of Mars varies in a pre-
the Copernican view of the solar system would later be used by dictable way. As it approaches the Sun, it speeds up, and as it
Kepler to support it. moves away, it slows down.
618 CHAPTER 21 Origins of Modern Astronomy

/' I \\.
/' -.‘

8 __/'/if \_\n
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Focus Focus


. “>

Y _ _ _ _ _;_.;_.________=-_=::; — _ _ _ _ _ _ . . . _ .1-w---'—~ —— ~

Focus Focus

;I:'.l~¥ fl.--;‘ -. Drawing ellipses with various eccentricities. Using

two straight pins for foci and a loop of string, trace out a curve while
keeping the string taut, and you will have drawn an ellipse. The
farther the pins (the foci) are moved apart, the more flattened (more
eccentric) is the resulting ellipse.

In its simplest form, the orbital period is measured in Earth

years, and the planet’s distance to the Sun is expressed in terms
Lei German astronomer Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) of Earth’s mean distance to the Sun. The latter “yardstick” is called
helped establish the era of modern astronomy by deriving three laws the astronomical unit (AU) and is equal to about 150 million
of planetary motion. (Photo by Imagno/Getty Images) kilometers (93 million miles). Using these units, Kepler’s third law
states that the planet's orbital period squared is equal to its mean
solar distance cubed. Consequently, the solar distances of the
planets can be calculated when their periods of revolution are
In 1609, after nearly a decade of work, Kepler proposed his known. For example, Mars has an orbital period of 1.88 years,
first two laws of planetary motion: which squared equals 3.54. The cube root of 3.54 is 1.52, and that

1. The path of each planet around the Sun, while almost cir-
cular, is actually an ellipse, with the Sun at one focus Kepler's law of equal areas. A line connecting a planet
(Figure 21.11). (Earth) to the Sun sweeps out an area in such a manner that equal
2. Each planet revolves so that an imaginary line connecting areas are swept out in equal times. Thus, Earth revolves slower
when it is farther from the Sun (aphelion) and faster when it is
it to the Sun sweeps over equal areas in equal intervals of
closest (perihelion). The eccentricity of Earth's orbit is greatly
time 1" . =; F1). This law ofequal areas geometrically exaggerated in this diagram.
expresses the variations in orbital speeds of the planets.

Figure 21.12 illustrates the second law. Note that in order for
a planet to sweep equal areas in the same amount of time, it must
travel more rapidly when it is nearer the Sun and more slowly
when it is farther from the Sun.
Kepler was devout and believed that the Creator made an -Q

orderly universe and that this order would be reflected in the posi- January Sun T July
tions and motions of the planets. The uniformity he tried to find Faster Jemo9
eluded him for nearly a decade. Then in 1619, Kepler published
his third law in The Harmony ofthe Worlds:

3. The orbital periods of the planets and their distances to

the Sun are proportional. ~n-
The Birth of Modern Astronomy 619

is the average distance from Mars to the Sun, in astronomical units

(Table 21.1).
Kepler’s laws assert that the planets revolve around the Sun,
and therefore support the Copernican theory. Kepler, however,
did not determine the forces that act to produce the planetary
motion he had so ably described. That task would remain for
Galileo Galilei and Sir Isaac Newton.

Galileo Galilei
Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) was the greatest Italian scientist of the
Renaissance 1. Y ~:. . ' ). He was a contemporary of Kepler and,
like Kepler, strongly supported the Copernican theory of a Sun-
centered solar system. Galileo’s greatest contributions to science
were his descriptions of the behavior of moving objects, which
he derived from experimentation. The method of using experi-
ments to determine natural laws had essentially been lost since
the time of the early Greeks.
All astronomical discoveries before Galileo's time were made
without the aid of a telescope. ln 1609, Galileo heard that a Dutch
lens maker had devised a system of lenses that magnified objects.
Apparently without ever seeing a telescope, Galileo constructed
his own, which magnified distant objects three times the size seen
by the unaided eye. He immediately made others, the best having
a magnification of about 30 .1? 151.1%. ti).
With the telescope, Galileo was able to view the universe in a
new way. He made many important discoveries that supported
;l~. Italian scientist Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) used a
the Copernican view of the universe, including the following: new invention, the telescope, to observe the Sun, Moon, and planets
in more detail than ever before. (Nimatallah/Art Resource, N.Y.)
1. The discovery of ]upiter’s four largest satellites, or itL "1;-I. . One of Galileo's telescopes. Although Galileo did not
moons 1%).This find dispelled the old idea invent the telescope, he built several—the largest of which had a
that Earth was the sole center of motion in the universe; magnification Of 30. (Photo by Gianni Tortoli/Photo Researchers, Inc.)
for here, plainly visible, was another center of motion-
Iupiter. It also countered the frequently used argument
that the Moon would be left behind if Earth revolved
around the Sun.
2. The discovery that the planets are circular disks rather
than just points of light, as was previously thought. This
indicated that the planets must be Earth-like as opposed
to star-like.

TABLE 21.1 Period of Revolution and Solar Distances

of Planets
Solar Distance Period Ellipticity
Planet (AU)’ (years) 0 = circle
Mercury 0.39 p 0.24 0.205
Venus 0.72 0.62 0.007
‘Eith iii 1.00fi* H 1.00 i g FL017
Mars 1.52 1.88 0.094
Jupiter 5.20 11.86 0.049
Saturn 9.54 29.46 if 0.057
Uranus 19.18 84.01 0.046
Neptune 30.06 164.80 0.011
*AU = astronomical unit
620 CHAPTER 21 Origins of Modern Astronomy

mated the rotational period of the Sun as just under a

5/t,.,.,,,,,,,. 4'0
month. Hence, another heavenly body was found to have
both “blemishes” and rotational motion.
n"¢=v?\(jf(-\‘Z. ,9 4(-

Each of these observations eroded a bedrock principle held by

3"""’.""“ tr O __ - - the prevailing view on the nature of the universe.
0*,‘ .7‘.
._ _ -- _ _ -—- 7_ _ -, - -_ —_-;; m:._'_ _ 7 _ _A
In 1616, the Church condemned the Copernican theory as
3\IT\'1*(J O 5,: contrary to Scripture because it did not put humans at their right-
7 *-;-- *' 1 _ ié V _ ?_ _ -I ful place at the center of Creation, and Galileo was told to aban-
3-Hour; -nO .x don this theory. Undeterred, Galileo began writing his most
famous work, Dialogue of the Great World Systems. Despite poor
first . *0 *1 _ -- health, he completed the project and in 1630 went to Rome, seek-
,('~”“""""Jl *~*O 22* Pl P ing permission from Pope Urban VIII to publish. Since the book
_ rt T’ : T“

R ?!u\J1C’}/.|?_ _* _* * O was a dialogue that expounded both the Ptolemaic and Coperni-
can systems, publication was allowed. However, Galileo’s detrac-
tors were quick to realize that he was promoting the Copernican
ii. it *0 .,, view at the expense of the Ptolemaic system. Sale of the book was
quickly halted, and Galileo was called before the Inquisition. Tried
I'1.~H.¢f-ii-%_' -q- O *H 1 g
and convicted of proclaiming doctrines contrary to religious
I?-7h‘*¢1-I’ _-K’ -fluo I- teachings, he was sentenced to permanent house arrest, under
which he remained for the last 10 years of his life.
i4<(~»~Z. -it .4 t Q it Despite this restriction, and his grief following the death of
P 76-(“f.~';-if
to to # Q in-as it VJ Pm J
his eldest daughter, Galileo continued to work. In 1637 he became
totally blind, yet during the next few years he completed his finest
scientific work, a book on the study of motion in which he stated
rz.¢4f,..,.,_" F QQ that the natural tendency of an object in motion is to remain in
F’ - ' . _ --1 — 1 ~ __ i_

jg=_ +(')# xx- motion. Later, as more scientific evidence in support of the Coper-
‘-'l-?i~041.1, -PF -it O I- 4!»
nican system was discovered, the Church allowed Galileo's works
to be published.
1° '3?‘ 5! 1*
7 - F ~’ml - " _
_ -1
('1-F.‘ {- “F
S; *
_ _ __._ -1
Sir Isaac Newton
1 '-" .Sketch by Galileo of how he saw Jupiter and its four Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) was born in the year of Galileo’s
largest satellites through his telescope. The positions of Jupiter's four death (1 5 . His many accomplishments in mathemat-
largest Moons (drawn as stars) change nightly. You can observe ics and physics led a successor to say, “Newton was the greatest
these same changes with binoculars. (Yerkes Observatory Photograph!
University of Chicago)
genius that ever existed.”

3. The discovery that Venus exhibits phases just as the Moon

does and that Venus appears smallest when it is in full
phase and thus is farthest from Earth
This observation demonstrates that Venus orbits its
. : r). Students Sometimes Ask...
source of light—the Sun. In the Ptolemaic system, shown Did Galileo drop balls of iron and wood from the Leaning
in Figure 21.16A, the orbit of Venus lies between Earth Tower of Pisa?
and the Sun, which means that only the crescent phases Through experimentation, legend, Galileo probably did not
of Venus should ever be seen from Earth. Galileo discovered that the attempt this experiment. In fact,
4. The discovery that the Moon’s surface is not a smooth acceleration of falling objects it would have been inconclusive
glass sphere, as the ancients had proclaimed. Rather, does not depend on their because of the effect of air
Galileo saw mountains, craters, and plains, indicating that weight. According to some resistance. However, nearly four
the Moon was Earth-like. He thought the plains might be accounts, Galileo made this dis- centuries later, this experiment
bodies of water, and this idea was strongly promoted by covery by dropping balls of iron was dramatically performed on
others, as we can tell from the names given to these fea- and wood from the Leaning the airless Moon when David
tures (Sea of Tranquility, Sea of Storms, etc.). Tower of Pisa to show that they Scott, an Apollo 15 astronaut,
5. The discovery that the Sun (the viewing of which may would fall together and hit the demonstrated that a feather and
have caused the eye damage that later blinded him) had ground at the same time. a hammer do, indeed, fall at the
sunspots—dark regions caused by slightly lower tempera- Despite the popularity of this same rate.
tures. He tracked the movement of these spots and esti-
The Birth of Modern Astronomy 621

J Using a telescope, Galileo discovered that

\j_'.".:.,-~: .' ‘i 5 ._.'

Venus has phases just like the Moon. A. In the Ptolemaic
l (Earth-centered) system, the orbit of Venus lies between the
Sun and Earth, as shown in Figure 21.5A. Thus, in an Earth-
centered solar system, only the crescent phase of Venus
would be visible from Earth. B. In the Copernican (Sun-
centered) system, Venus orbits the Sun and hence all of the
phases of Venus should be visible from Earth. C. As Galileo
observed, Venus goes through a series of Moonlike phases.
Venus appears smallest during the full phase when it is
farthest from Earth and largest in the crescent phase when
it is closest to Earth. This verified Galileo's belief that the
Sun was the center of the solar system. (Photo courtesy of Lowell

A. Phases of Venus as seen from Earth in

the Earth-centered model.

B. Phases of Venus as seen from C.

Earth in the sun-centered model.

Although Kepler and those who followed attempted to explain Thus, gravitational force decreases with distance, so that two
the forces involved in planetary motion, their explanations were objects 3 kilometers apart have 32 or 9, times less gravitational
less than satisfactory. Kepler believed that some force pushed the attraction than if the same objects were 1 kilometer apart.
planets along in their orbits. Galileo, however, correctly reasoned The law of gravitation also states that the greater the mass of
that no force is required to keep an object in motion. Instead, an object, the greater its gravitational force. For example, the large
Galileo proposed that the natural tendency for a moving object mass of the Moon has a gravitational force strong enough to cause
that is unaffected by an outside force is to continue moving at a ocean tides on Earth, whereas the tiny mass of a communications
uniform speed and in a straight line. This concept, inertia, was satellite has very little effect on Earth.
later formalized by Newton as his first law of motion. With his laws of motion, Newton proved that the force of
The problem, then, was not to explain the force that keeps the gravity—combined with the tendency of a planet to remain in
planets moving but rather to determine the force that keeps them straight-line motion—would result in a planet having an ellip-
from going in a straight line out into space. It was to this end that tical orbit as established by Kepler. Earth, for example, moves
Newton conceptualized the force of gravity. At the early age of 23, forward in its orbit about 30 kilometers (18.5 miles) each sec-
he envisioned a force that extends from Earth into space and holds ond, and during the same second, the force of gravity pulls it
the Moon in orbit around Earth. Although others had theorized the toward the Sun about 0.5 centimeter (I/8 inch). Therefore, as
existence of such a force, he was the first to formulate and test the Newton concluded, it is the combination of Earth’s forward
law ofuniversal gravitation. It states: motion and its “falling” motion that defines its orbit
If gravity were somehow eliminated, Earth would
Every body in the universe attracts every other body with a move in a straight line out into space. Conversely, if Earth’s for-
force that is directly proportional to their masses and inversely ward motion suddenly stopped, gravity would pull it, crashing
proportional to the square of the distance between them. into the Sun.
622 CHAPTER 21 Origins of Modern Astronomy

.'i.tT:Orbital motion of Earth and other planets.

only if the bodies noticeably affect the orbit of a neighboring body,

or of a nearby artificial satellite.

CONCEPT cnncx 2 1.2

Q What major change did Copernicus make in the Ptolemaic
system? Why was this change philosophically different?
Q What data did Tycho Brahe collect that was useful to Iohannes
Kepler in his quest to describe planetary motion?
it:.. English scientist Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) Q Who discovered that planetary orbits were ellipses rather than
explained gravity as the force that holds planets in orbit around the circles?
Sun. (The Granger Collection) Q Does Earth move faster in its orbit near perihelion (January)
or near aphelion (July)?
Q Explain why Galileo's discovery of a rotating Sun supports the
Copernican view of a Sun-centered universe.
Thus far, we have discussed Earth as if the only forces Q Newton discovered that the orbits of the planets are the result
involved in its motion were caused by its gravitational relation- of opposing forces. Briefly explain these forces.
ship with the Sun. However, all bodies in the solar system have
gravitational effects on Earth and on each other. For this reason,
the orbit of Earth is not the perfect ellipse determined by Kepler.
There are slight variances in the orbits of the planets from their
predicted paths. These are called perturbations (perturb =
Positions in the Sky
disturb). For example, lupiter’s gravitational pull on Saturn short- If you gaze at the stars away from city lights, you will get the dis-
ens Saturn’s orbital period by nearly one week from what it would tinct impression that the stars produce a spherical shell sur-
be if Jupiter did not exist. The application of this concept led to rounding Earth. This impression seems so real that it is easy to
the discovery of the planet Neptune. When astronomers applied understand why the early Greeks regarded the stars as being fixed
Newton’s laws to the orbit ofUranus, it became clear that a large, to a crystalline celestial sphere. Although we realize that no such
unknown body (Neptune) was gravitationally affecting the sphere exists, it is convenient to use this concept to map the stars
motion of Uranus. and other celestial objects. We describe two mapping systems
Newton used the law of universal gravitation to express that use the concept of celestial sphere: (1) the division of the sky
Kepler’s third law, which defines the relationship between the into areas called constellations and (2) the extension of Earth s
orbital periods of the planets and their solar distances. In its new lines of longitude and latitude into space (the equatorial system).
form, Kepler’s third law takes into account the masses of the bod-
ies involved and thereby provides a method for determining the
mass of a body when the orbit of one ofits satellites is known. For Constellations
example, the mass of the Sun is known from Earth’s orbit, and The natural fascination people have with the star-studded skies
Earth’s mass has been determined from the orbit of the Moon. In led them to name the patterns they saw (see Box 21.1). These con-
fact, the mass of any body with a satellite can be determined. The figurations, called constellations (con = with, stella = star),
masses of bodies that do not have satellites can be determined were named in honor of mythological characters or great heroes,
Positionsin the Sky 623

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r .
tl _l _J. _ '-,.':"f'~~ |_ .- 1.7 H - "-1 ' ' " = j - -
ii =1? i "‘ -.i Ii, "i 5": ‘: i-_i§__"=‘-_-.l- . -.1 . - ._ ,_ ,
,_=g_ =,, .-
‘' T
-=.,-i -—-»- ,
1.. “-‘.L_ ||lI‘-IH.-_
-T 5) _Ii ;- it [.1 Tl ,-,‘ 1,1:-,__ ;i.- __ = 7 ..-L . j. - _i +3 :1 1:, .
1 - ;' '- I |. -- 3-. -I, D T; I. J __'- r _. -l_: -__- (‘.1 . ._- -4 -',|i_ ' 1 ‘‘f


_ -\B;_

Forerunner of
Many people confuse astrology and astron- FIGURE 21.B Stonehenge, an ancient observatory in England. On June 21-22
omy to the point of believing these terms to (summer solstice), the Sun can be observed rising above the heelstone. (Robin
be synonymous. Astronomy is a scientific Scagell/Science Photo Library/Photo Researchers, Inc.)
probing of the universe aiming to determine
the properties of celestial objects and the
laws under which the universe operates. Therefore, the planets, Sun, and Moon all day of spring (vernal equinox) occurred
Astrology, on the other hand, is based on appear to move along a band around the sky when the Sun was viewed against the con-
ancient superstitions that hold that an indi- known as the zodiac. Because Earth's Moon stellation Aries. However, during each suc-
vidual's actions and personality are based cycles through its phases about 12 times ceeding vernal equinox, the position of the
on the positions of the planets and stars each year, the Babylonians divided the Sun shifts very slightly against the back-
now, and at the person's birth. Scientists do zodiac into 12 constellations (Figure 21.A). ground stars. Now, over 2,000 years later,
not accept astrology, regarding it as a pseu- Thus, each successive full Moon can be seen the first day of spring occurs when the Sun
doscience (false science). Today, many peo- against the backdrop of the next constella- is in Pisces. In about 600 years, it will occur
ple read horoscopes as a pastime and do not tion of the zodiac. when the Sun appears in the constellation
let them influence daily living. The dozen constellations of the zodiac Aquarius. (Hence, the “Age of Aquarius" is
Apparently astrology had its origin more (“Zone of Animals, " so named because I coming.)
than 5,000 years ago when the positions of some constellations represent animals) are Although astrology is not a science and
the planets were plotted as they regularly Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, has no basis in fact, it did contribute to the
migrated against the background of the Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, science of astronomy. The positions of the
"fixed" stars. Because the solar system is Aquarius, and Pisces. These names may be Moon, Sun, and planets at the time of a per-
"flat," like a whirling Frisbee, the planets familiar to you as the astrological signs of son's birth (sign of the zodiac) were consid-
orbit the Sun along nearly the same plane. the zodiac. When first established, the first ered to have great influence on that personls
life. Even the great astronomer Kepler was
required to make horoscopes part of his
duties. To make forward-looking horoscopes,
FIGURE 21.A The 12 constellations of the zodiac. Earth is shown in its autumn astrologers attempted to predict the future
(September) position in orbit, from which the Sun is seen against the positions of the celestial bodies. Conse-
background of the constellation Virgo. quently, astronomical observatories were
built in order to obtain more accurate predic-
tions of events such as eclipses, which were
North celestial pole considered highly significant in a person's
Celestial life.*
sphere‘ Even prehistoric people built observato-
ries. The structure known as Stonehenge, in
England, was undoubtedly an attempt at
better solar predictions (Figure 21.B). At the
time of midsummer in the Northern Hemi-
sphere (June 21-22, the summer solstice),
the rising Sun emerges directly above the
heel stone of Stonehenge. Besides keeping
the calendar, Stonehenge may also have pro-
vided a method of determining eclipses. The
remnants of other early observatories exist
elsewhere in the Americas, Europe, Asia,
and Africa.

‘It is interesting to note that 2,000 years ago a person born

on Iuly 28 was considered a Leo because the Sun was in
that constellation. During modern times the Sun appears
in the constellation Cancer on this date, but individuals
born during this time are still dubbed Leos.
624 CHAPTER 21 Origins of Modern Astronomy

such as Orion the hunter Sometimes it takes a bit Some of the brightest stars in the heavens were given proper
of imagination to make out the intended subjects, as most con- names, such as Sirius, Arcturus, and Betelgeuse. In addition, the
stellations were probably not thought of as likenesses in the first brightest stars in a constellation are generally named in order of
place. Although we inherited many of the constellations from the their brightness by the letters of the Greek alphabet-—alpha (a),
Greeks and their names from Greek mythology, it is believed that beta (B), and so on—followed by the name of the parent constel-
Greeks acquired most of their constellations from the Babyloni- lation. For example, Sirius, the brightest star in the constellation
ans, Egyptians, and Mesopotamians. Canis Major (Larger Dog), is also called Alpha (oz) Canis Majoris.
Although the stars that make up constellations all appear to
be the same distance from Earth, this is not the case. Some are
many times farther away than others. Thus, the stars in a partic- The Equatorial System
ular constellation are not associated with each other in any impor- The equatorial system divides the celestial sphere into coordi-
tant physical way. In addition, various cultural groups, including nates that are similar to the latitude and longitude system we use
Native Americans and the Chinese, attached their own names, for establishing locations on Earth’s surface _ _1;).55
pictures, and stories to the constellations. For example, the con- Because the celestial sphere appears to rotate around an imagi-
stellation Orion the hunter was known as the White Tiger to nary line extending from Earth’s axis, the north and south celes-
ancient Chinese observers. tial poles are aligned with the terrestrial North Pole and South
Today, 88 constellations are recognized, and they are used to Pole. The north celestial pole happens to be very near the bright
divide the sky into units, just as state boundaries divide the United star whose various names reflect its location: “pole star,” Polaris,
States. Every star in the sky is within the boundaries of one ofthese and North Star. To an observer in the Northern Hemisphere, the
constellations. Astronomers use constellations when they want stars appear to circle Polaris, because it, like the North Pole, is in
to roughly identify the area of the heavens they are observing. For the center of motion ( :1 shows how to
the student, constellations provide a good way to become famil- locate the North Star using two stars in the easily located con-
iar with the night sky. stellation the Big Dipper.)
Now, imagine a plane through
Earth's equator, a plane that extends
outward from Earth and intersects
~; . '-. 2': Constellation Orion the hunter. A. Artist's depiction of Orion based on descriptions the celestial sphere. The intersection
from Greek mythology. B. Photo showing the brightest stars in Orion. The bright star in the upper left of this plane with the celestial sphere
iS named Betegeuse—a red supergiant. (Photo by John Chumack/Photo Researchers, Inc.)
is called the celestial equator (Fig-
ure 21.20). In the equatorial system,
the term declination is analogous to
latitude, and the term right ascension
is analogous to longitude (Fig-
ure 21.20). Declination (cleclinare =
to turn away), like latitude, is the
angular distance north or south of
the celestial equator. Right ascen-
sion (ascenclere = to climb up) is the
angular distance measured eastward
along the celestial equator from the
position of the vernal equinox. (The
vernal equinox is at the point in the
sky where the Sun crosses the celes-
tial equator, at the onset of spring.)
While declination is expressed in
degrees, right ascension is usually
expressed in hours, where each hour
A. is equivalent to I5 degrees. (Earth
rotates 15 degrees each hour.) To
visualize distances on the celestial
sphere, it helps to remember that the
Moon and Sun have an apparent
width of about 0.5 degree.

B.l 55Latitude and longitude are described in Appen-

dix B, “Earth's Grid System.”
The Motions of Earth 625

North celestial pole

sphere Star


iii1:5-éiiliiiii Locating the North Star (Polaris) from the pointer stars
Celestial in the Big Dipper, which is part of the constellation Ursa Major. The
equator Big Dipper is shown soon after sunset in December (lower figure),
April (upper figure), and August (left).

South celestial pole The Motions of Earth

The two primary motions of Earth are rotation and revolution.
111%iiiQ-iizl it .;%ti Astronomical coordinate system on the celestial sphere.
A lesser motion is axial precession. Rotation is the turning, or
spinning, of a body on its axis. Revolution is the motion of a
body, such as a planet or moon, along a path around some point
in space. For example, Earth revolves around the Sun, and the
Moon revolves around Earth. Earth also has another very slow
CONCEPT cnrzcrc 2 1.3 motion known as axial precession, which is the gradual change
Q How do modern astronomers use constellations? in the orientation of Earth’s axis over a period of 26,000 years.
Q How many constellations are currently recognized?
Q How are the brightest stars in a constellation denoted? Rotation
Q Briefly describe the equatorial system.
The main consequences of Earth’s rotation are day and night.
Earth’s rotation has become a standard method of measuring
time because it is so dependable and easy to use. You maybe sur-
prised to learn that Earth’s rotation is measured in two ways, mak-
ing two kinds of days. Most familiar is the
f£.ii..?.'l. Star trails in the region of Polaris (north celestial pole) on a time exposure. (Photo mean solar day, the time interval from one
by Douglas Kirkland/CORBIS)
noon to the next, which averages about 24
hours. Noon is when the Sun has reached
its highest point in the sky.
The sidereal (sicler : star, at = pertaining
to) day, on the other hand, is the time it takes
for Earth to make one complete rotation (360
degrees) with respect to a star other than our
Sun. The sidereal day is measured by the time
required for a star to reappear at the identical
position in the sky. The sidereal day has a
period of23 hours, 56 minutes, and four sec-
onds (measured in solar time), which is
almost 4 minutes shorter than the mean solar
day. This difference results because the direc-
tion to distant stars changes only infinitesi-
mally, whereas the direction to the Sun
changes by almost I degree each day. This
difference is shown in .‘-i’j-:i_..'T-ii
626 CHAPTER 21 Origins of Modern Astronomy

The difference between a solar day and a sidereal day. Locations X and Y are directly opposite each other. It
takes Earth 23 hours and 56 minutes to make one rotation with respect to the stars (sidereal day). However, notice that
after Earth has rotated once with respect to the stars, point Y is not yet returned to the “ noon position" with respect to the
Sun. Earth has to rotate another 4 minutes to complete the solar day.

Why do we use the mean solar day to measure time rather than Precession
the sidereal day? Consider the fact that in sidereal time, “noon”
occurs 4 minutes earlier each day. Therefore, after a span of 6 A third and very slow movement of Earth is called axial preces-
months, “noon” would occur at “midnight.” However, observato- sion. Although Earth’s axis maintains approximately the same
ries use clocks that keep sidereal time because the stars appear to angle of tilt, the direction in which the axis points continually
move through the sky in sidereal time. Simply, if a star is sighted changes (i+‘ign;i.-e :%'i.;2s'n.). As a result, the axis traces a circle on the
directly south of an observatory at 9:00 P.M. (sidereal
time) ’ it_ will appear in the same direction at that time rr rtottitttK Earth’s orbital motion causes the apparent position of the Sun to
every (sidereal) daY- shift about 1 degree each day on the celestial sphere.

Revolution / North celestial pole

Earth revolves around the Sun in an elliptical orbit at an sphere
average speed of 107,000 kilometers (66,000 miles) per
hour. Its average distance from the Sun is 150 million kilo-
meters (93 million miles), but because its orbit is an
ellipse, Earth's distance from the Sun varies. At
perihelion (peri = near, helios = sun) it is 147 million kilo-
meters (91.5 million miles) distant, which occurs about
January 3 each year. At aphelion (apo = away, helios =
sun) Earth is 152 million kilometers (94.5 million miles)
distant, which occurs about July 4.
Because of Earth’s orbital movement the Sun
appears to be displaced among the constellations at a
distance equal to about twice its width, or I degree each
day. The apparent annual path of the Sun against the
backdrop of the celestial sphere is called the ecliptic
;?1”)i..;§i»4). The planets and the Moon travel in
nearly the same plane as Earth. Hence, their paths on
the celestial sphere also lie near the ecliptic.
The imaginary plane that connects points along the
ecliptic is called the plane ofthe ecliptic. As measured
from this imaginary plane, Earth’s axis is tilted about
23% degrees (Figure 21.24). This angle is very impor-
tant to Earth’s inhabitants because the inclination of
Earth’s axis causes the yearly cycle of seasons, a topic
discussed in detail in Chapter 16.
Motions of the Earth—Moon System 627

Students Sometimes Ask...

Our book states that Earth is farthest from the Sun in
July and closest to the Sun in January. What would the
seasons he like if this situation were reversed?
The situation you proposed will, planet is closest to the Sun (peri-
in fact, occur in about 12,000 helion). This is just the opposite
years because of axial preces- of the current situation. Thus,
sion. (Recall that variations in 12,000 years from now, average
Earth—Sun distance are not the summer temperatures in the
primary cause of the seasons. Northern Hemisphere will be
Nevertheless, they do affect warmer than they presently are.
average seasonal tempera- A summer in Montreal, Canada,
tures.) Gradually, the position of might be more akin to a typical
Earth’s axis will change so that summer in Washington, D.C.,
in 12,000 years the Northern today. However, northern lati-
Hemisphere will experience tudes will experience winter
winter when Earth is farthest temperatures that are, on aver-
from the Sun (aphelion), and age, colder than they presently
summer will occur when our are.

motion. We are presently approaching one of our nearest galac-

tic neighbors, the Great Galaxy in Andromeda.
In summary, the motions of Earth are many and complex.
Fortunately, one rarely has to consider all the motions at once.
For example, since the solar system moves as a unit in the galaxy,
and the galaxy moves as a unit through the universe, we do not
have to consider these motions when discussing the motions of
the Earth and Moon around the Sun.

;‘~1’."-'=. .i-.1'.":'=_~; Precession of Earth’s axis. A. The precession of CONCEPT cmzcx 2 1.4
Earth’s axis causes the North Pole to “trace” a circle through the sky Q Describe the three primary motions of Earth.
during a 26,000-year cycle. Currently, the North Pole points toward
Q Explain the difference between the mean solar day and the
Polaris (North Star). In about 12,000 years, Vega will be the North
Star. Around 3000 BC, the North Star was Thuban, a bright star in the sidereal day.
constellation Draco. B. Precession illustrated by a spinning toy top. Q Define the ecliptic.
C. The circle shows the path of the North Pole among some Q Why does the axial precession have little effect on the
prominent stars and constellations in the northern sky. seasons?

sky. This movement is similar to the “wobble” of a spinning top

(Figure 21.25B). At the present time, the axis points toward the Motions of the Earth—Moon
bright star Polaris. In AD 14,000, it will point toward the bright star
Vega, which will then be the North Star for about a thousand years
or so (Figure 21.25C). The period of precession is 26,000 years. By Earth has one natural satellite, the Moon. In addition to accom-
the year 28,000, Polaris will once again be the North Star. Preces- panying Earth in its annual trek around the Sun, our Moon orbits
sion has only a minor effect on the seasons because Earth’s angle Earth about once each month. When viewed from a Northern
of tilt changes only slightly. Hemisphere perspective, the Moon moves counterclockwise
In addition to its own movements, Earth accompanies the (eastward) around Earth. The Moon’s orbit is elliptical, causing
Sun as it speeds in the direction of the bright star Vega at 20 kilo- the Earth-Moon distance to vary by about 6 percent, averaging
meters (12 miles) per second. Also, the Sun, like other nearby 384,401 kilometers (238,329 miles).
stars, revolves around the galaxy, a trip that requires 230 million The motions of the Earth-Moon system constantly change
years to complete at speeds approaching 250 kilometers (150 the relative positions of the Sun, Earth, and Moon. The results
miles) per second. In addition, the galaxies themselves are in are some of the most noticeable astronomical phenomena,
628 CHAPTER 21 Origins of Modern Astronomy

namely the phases ofthe Moon and the occasional eclipses ofthe the naked eye low in the western sky just after sunset. During the
Sun and Moon. following week, the illuminated portion ofthe Moon that is visible
from Earth increases (waxing) to a half- circle (first-quarter phase)
that can be seen from about noon to midnight. In another week,
Lunar Motions the complete disk (fall-Moon phase) can be seen rising in the east
The cycle of the Moon through its phases requires 29% days—a as the Sun sinks in the west. During the next 2 weeks, the per-
time span called the synodic month. This cycle was the basis for centage of the Moon that can be seen steadily declines (waning),
the first Roman calendar. However, this is the apparent period of until the Moon disappears altogether (new-Moon phase). The cycle
the Moon’s revolution around Earth and not the true period, soon begins anew with the reappearance of the crescent Moon.
which takes only 27% days and is known as the sidereal month. The lunar phases are a consequence of the motion of the
The reason for the difference of nearly 2 days each cycle is shown Moon and the sunlight that is reflected from its surface
in .1-‘l".§.f”'-‘Ti-'-3. Notice that as the Moon orbits Earth, the (Figure 21.27B). Half of the Moon is illuminated at all times (note
Earth-Moon system also moves in an orbit around the Sun. Con- the inner group of Moon sketches in Figure 21.27A). But to an
sequently, even after the Moon has made a complete revolution earthbound observer, the percentage ofthe bright side that is vis-
around Earth, it has not yet reached its starting position with ible depends on the location of the Moon with respect to the Sun
respect to the Sun, which is directly between the Sun and Earth and Earth. When the Moon lies between the Sun and Earth, none
(new-Moon phase). This motion takes an additional 2 days. of its bright side faces Earth, so we see the new-Moon (“no-
An interesting fact concerning the motions of the Moon is that Moon”) phase. Conversely, when the Moon lies on the side of
its period ofrotation around its axis and its revolution around Earth Earth opposite the Sun, all of its lighted side faces Earth, so we
are the same—27§- days. Because of this, the same lunar hemi- see the full Moon. At all positions between these extremes, an
sphere always faces Earth. All ofthe landings ofthe manned Apollo intermediate amount of the Moon’s illuminated side is visible
missions were confined to the Earth-facing side. Only orbiting from Earth.
satellites and astronauts have seen the “back” side of the Moon.
Because the Moon rotates on its axis only once every 27% days,
any location on its surface experiences periods of daylight and
darkness lasting about 2 weeks. This, along with the absence of an CONCEPT CHECK 2 1.5
atmosphere, accounts for the high surface temperature of 127° C Q Compare the synodic month with the sidereal month.
(261° F) on the day side of the Moon and the low surface temper- Q What is the approximate length of the cycle of the phases of
ature of -173° C (-280° F)on its night side. the Moon?
Q What phenomenon results from the fact that the Moon's
period of rotation and revolution are the same?
Phases of the Moon Q The Moon rotates very slowly (once in 27% days) on its axis.
The first astronomical phenomenon to be understood was the reg- How does this affect the lunar surface temperature?
Q What is different about the crescent phase that precedes the
ular cycle of the phases of the Moon. On a monthly basis, we
new-Moon phase and that which follows the new-Moon
observe the phases as a systematic change in the amount of the
Moon that appears illuminated We will choose the Q What phase of the Moon occurs approximately one week after
“new-Moon” position in the cycle as a starting point. About 2 days the new Moon? Two weeks?
after the new Moon, a thin sliver (crescentphase) can be seen with

it The difference
between the sidereal month
(2 7 -§— days) and the synodic month
(2 9 % days). Distances and angles
are not shown to scale.
Eclipses of the Sun and Moon 629


B. S

itPhases of the Moon. A. The outer figures show the phases as seen from Earth. B. Compare these photographs with
the diagram. (Photos © UC Regents/Lick Observatory)

Eclipses of the Sun and Moon Why does a solar eclipse not occur with every new-Moon
phase and a lunar eclipse with every full Moon‘? They would, if
Along with understanding the Moon’s phases, the early Greeks the orbit of the Moon lay exactly along the plane of Earth’s orbit.
also realized that eclipses are simply shadow effects. When the However, the Moon’s orbit is inclined about 5 degrees to the
Moon moves in a line directly between Earth and the Sun, which plane of the ecliptic. Thus, during most new-Moon phases, the
can occur only during the new-Moon phase, it casts a dark shadow of the Moon passes either above or below Earth; and
shadow on Earth, producing a solar eclipse (eclipsis = failure to during most full-Moon phases, the shadow of Earth misses the
appear) §?i'l'll.Ii-llili-). Conversely, the Moon is eclipsed (lunar Moon. An eclipse can only take place when a new- or full-Moon
eclipse) when it moves within Earth’s shadow, a situation that is phase occurs while the Moon’s orbit crosses the plane of the
possible only during the full-Moon phase I3.l"'l.Tl'_,T§-'i.fEIi). ecliptic.
630 CHAPTER 21 Origins of Modern Astronomy

Because these conditions are

normally met only twice a year, the
usual number of eclipses is four.
These occur as a set of one solar and
one lunar eclipse, followed 6 months
later with another set. Occasionally
the alignment is such that three
eclipses can occur in a one-month
period—at the beginning, middle,
and end. These occur as a solar
eclipse flanked by two lunar eclipses,
or vice versa. Furthermore, it occa-
sionally happens that the first set of
eclipses for the year occurs at the very
beginning of a year, the second set in
the middle, and a third set occurs
before the calendar year ends, result-
ing in six eclipses in that year. More
rarely, if one of these sets consists of
three eclipses, the total number of
eclipses in a year can reach seven,
which is the maximum.
During a total lunar eclipse, Earth’s
circular shadow moves slowly across
the disk of the full Moon. When totally
Solar eclipse. A. Observers in the zone of the umbral shadow see a total solar eclipse. eclipsed, the Moon is completely
Those located in the penumbra only see a partial eclipse. The path of the solar eclipse moves within Earth’s shadow but is still visible
eastward across the Earth. B. During a total solar eclipse, the blotted-out solar disk is surrounded by
as a coppery disk, because Earth’s
an irregularly shaped halo called the corona. (Photo by Roger Ressmeyer/CORBIS)
atmosphere bends some long-wave-
length light (red) into its shadow. Some
ii Lunar eclipse. A. During a total lunar eclipse the of this light reflects off the Moon and
Moon's orbit carries it into the dark shadow of Earth (umbra). During back to us. A total eclipse of the Moon can last up to 4 hours and is
a partial eclipse only a portion of the Moon enters the umbra. B. During visible to anyone on the side of Earth facing the Moon.
a total lunar eclipse a dark, copper-colored Moon is observed. The During a total solar eclipse, the Moon casts a circular shadow
color is a result of a small amount of sunlight that is reddened by that is never wider than 275 kilometers (170 miles), about the size
Earth's atmosphere—for the same reason sunsets appear red. This
light is refracted (bent) toward the Moon's surface. (Photo by Eckhard of South Carolina. This shadow traces a stripe on Earth’s surface.
Slawik/Photo Researchers, Inc.) Anyone observing in this region will see the Moon slowly block the
Sun from view and the sky darken ("i%gttre ; Near totality, a
sharp drop in temperature of a few degrees is experienced. The
solar disk is completely blocked for a maximum of only 7 min-
utes, because the Moon’s shadow is so small. At totality, the dark

Students Sometimes Ask...

Why do we sometimes see the Moon in the daytime?
During the full-Moon phase, the is visible in the daytime sky. For
Moon and the Sun are on oppo- example, the waning-gibbous
site sides of Earth, which phase can be seen in the early
causes the Moon to rise around morning hours and the waxing-
sunset and set at sunrise. Thus, gibbous Moon in the afternoon
the full moon tends to be visible (see Figure 21.27). Although the
only at night. However, during crescent Moon is "out" shortly
the other phases of the lunar before sunset and after sunrise,
cycle, the Moon and the Sun are you probably won't see it in the
not directly opposite each other, daytime. Why not?
and the lit portion of the Moon
Eclipses of the Sun and Moon 631

Moon is seen covering the complete solar disk, and only the Sun’s
brilliant white outer atmosphere is visible (Figure 21.28). Total
solar eclipses are visible only to people in the dark part of the
Moon's shadow (umbra), while a partial eclipse is seen by those
in the light portion (penuntbra) (Figure 21.28).
Partial solar eclipses are most common in the Polar regions,
because it is these areas that the pentunbra blankets when the dark
umbra of the Moon’s shadowjust misses Earth. A total solar eclipse
is a rare event at any given location. The next one that will be visi-
ble fiom the contiguous United States will occur on August 21, 2017.

CONCEPT cnrzcx 21 .6
Q Sketch the locations of the Sun, Moon, and Earth during a
solar eclipse and during a lunar eclipse.
Q How many eclipses normally occur each year?
I; 5' This sequence of photos starting from the upper left Q Solar eclipses are slightly more common than lunar eclipses.
to the lower right shows the stages of a total solar eclipse. (From Vllhy, then, is it more likely that your region of the country will
Foundations of Astronomy, Third Edition, p. 54, by Michael Seeds. © 1992. Reprinted experience a lunar eclipse?
with permission of Brooks/Cole Publishing, a division of Thomson Learning.) Q How long can a total eclipse of the Moon last? How about a
total eclipse of the Sun?

l Refer to Figure 21.4 and imagine that Eratosthenes had measured the difference in the angles of
the noonday Sun between Syene and Alexandria to be 10 degrees instead of 7 degrees. Consider
how this new measurement would have affected his calculation of Earth’s circumference to answer
the following questions.
a. Would this new measurement lead to a more accurate calculation?
b. Would this new measurement lead to an estimate for the circumference of Earth that is larger
or smaller than Eratosthenes’s original estimate?
2. Use Kepler’s third law to answer the following questions:
a. Determine the period of a planet with a solar distance of 10AU.
b. Determine the distance between the Sun and a planet with a period of 5 years.
c. Imagine two bodies, one twice as large as the other, orbiting the Sun at the same distance.
Which of the bodies, if either, would move faster than the other?
3. Galileo used his telescope to observe the planets and moons in our solar system. These observa-
tions allowed him to determine the positions and relative motions of the Sun, Earth, and other
objects in the solar system. Refer to Figure 21.16A, which shows an Earth-centered solar system,
and Figure 21.16B, which shows a Sun- centered solar system, to complete the following:
a. Describe the phases of Venus an observer on Earth would see for the Earth-centered model of
the solar system.
b. Describe the phases of Venus an observer on Earth would see for the Sun-centered model of
the solar system.
c. Explain how Galileo used observations of the phases of Venus to determine the correct posi-
tions of the Sun, Earth, and Venus.
4. Refer to the accompanying diagram, which shows three asteroids (A, B, and C). They _
are being pulled by the gravitational force exerted on them by their partner asteroid """ "
shown on the left. How will the strength of the gravitational force felt by each asteroid "' iii‘
(A, B, and C) compare? (Assume all of these asteroids are composed of the same
§ .a"-
material.) *?"5?'*I. .
‘ti ‘-3%; ---------------------------$3“;
Refer to the accompanying diagram, which
5U \1'_9. 1’

shows two pairs of asteroids, Pair A and \-

Pair B. Is it possible for the asteroids in

Pair A to be experiencing the same degree B -------- -—{§?‘C
of gravitational force as the asteroids in L.- .'/i'ig
,_ Q.
--------------------------- -—.(;'~'-/-E *1... 1
it ~i‘~5I. '
Pair B? Explain your answer.
632 CHAPTER 21 Origins of Modern Astronomy

. Imagine that Earth rotates on its axis at half its current rate. How much time would be required to
capture the photo shown in Figure 21.21?
7 . If we were able to reverse the direction of Earth’s rotation, would the solar day be longer, shorter, or
stay the same?
8 . Refer to Figure 21.A to complete the following:
a. What constellation is located in the sky near the Sun on the day illustrated?
b. After Earth has been moving around the Sun for 5 months, which constellation will be near the
Sun at noon?
c. Which constellation will be high in the sky at midnight‘? Explain your reasoning.
9. Imagine that today is your birthday. Would you be able to see the stars of your astrological birth
sign? Explain your answer.
10. Refer to the accompanying photo to complete the following.
a. When you observe the phase of the moon shown, is the moon waxing or waning?
b. What time of day can this phase of the moon be observed?
1 1. Imagine you are looking up at a full moon. At the same time, an astronaut on the Moon is viewing
Earth. In what phase will Earth appear to be from the astronaut’s vantage point? Sketch a diagram to
illustrate your answer.
12. If the moon’s orbit were precisely aligned with the plane of Earth’s orbit, how many eclipses (solar and
lunar) would occur in a 6-month period of time? If the moon’s orbit were tilted 90 degrees with respect
to the plane of Earth's orbit, how many eclipses (solar and lunar) would occur in a 6-month period?

In Review Chapter 21 Origins of Modern Astronomy

Early Greeks held the geocentric (Earth-centered) view of the tions were far more precise than any made previously and are
universe, believing that Earth was a sphere that stayed his legacy to astronomy. Iohannes Kepler (1571-1 630) ush-
motionless at the center of the universe. Orbiting Earth were ered in the new astronomy with his three laws of planetary
the seven wanderers (planetai in Greek), which included the motion. After constructing his own telescope, Galileo Galilei
Moon, Sun, and the known planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, (1564-1642) made many important discoveries that sup-
Iupiter, and Saturn. To the early Greeks, the stars traveled ported the Copernican view of a Sun-centered solar system.
daily around Earth on a transparent, hollow sphere called the Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) was the first to formulate and
celestial sphere. In A.D. 141, Claudius Ptolemy presented the test the law of universal gravitation, develop the laws of
geocentric outlook of the Greeks in its most sophisticated motion, and prove that the force of gravity, combined with
form in a model that became known as the Ptolemaic system. the tendency of an object to move in a straight line (inertia),
The Ptolemaic model had the planets moving in circular results in the elliptical orbits discovered by Kepler.
orbits around a motionless Earth. To explain the retrograde As early as 5,000 years ago people began naming the configu-
motion of planets (the apparent westward or opposite motion rations of stars, called constellations, in honor of mythological
that planets exhibit for a period of time as Earth overtakes characters or great heroes. Today, 88 constellations are recog-
and passes them), Ptolemy proposed that the planets orbited nized that divide the sky into units, just as state boundaries
in small circles (epicycles), revolving along large circles divide the United States.
(deferents). One method for locating stars, called the equatorial system,
In the 5th century B.C., the Greek Anaxagoras reasoned that divides the celestial sphere into a coordinate system similar
the Moon shines by reflected sunlight, and because it is a to the latitude-longitude system used for locations on Earth’s
sphere, only half is illuminated at one time. Aristotle (384-322 surface. Declination, like latitude, is the angular distance
B.c.) concluded that Earth is spherical. The first Greek to pro- north or south of the celestial equator. Right ascension is the
fess a Sun-centered, or heliocentric, universe was Aristarchus angular distance measured eastward from the position of the
(312-230 B.c.). The first successful attempt to establish the vernal equinox (the point in the sky where the Sun crosses
size of Earth is credited to Eratosthenes (276—l94 B.c.). The the celestial equator at the onset of spring).
greatest of the early Greek astronomers was Hipparchus (2nd The two primary motions of Earth are rotation (the turning,
century B.c.), best known for his star catalogue. or spinning, of a body on its axis) and revolution (the motion
Modern astronomy evolved through the work of many dedi- of a body, such as a planet or moon, along a path around
cated individuals during the 16th and 17th centuries. some point in space). Another very slow motion of Earth is
Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) reconstructed the solar sys- precession (the slow motion of Earth’s axis that traces out a
tem with the Sun at the center and the planets orbiting cone over a period of 26,000 years). Earth’s rotation can be
around it but erroneously continued to use circles to repre- measured in two ways, making two kinds of days. The mean
sent the orbits of planets. Tycho Brahe’s (1546-1601) observa- solar day is the time interval from one noon to the next,
H Mastering Geology 633

which averages about 24 hours. In contrast, the sidereal day is as the sidereal month. The difference of nearly 2 days is due to
‘ . the time it takes for Earth to make one complete rotation with the fact that as the Moon orbits Earth, the Earth—Mo on sys-
respect to a star other than the Sun, a period of 23 hours, tem also moves in an orbit around the Sun.
56 minutes, and 4 seconds. Earth revolves around the Sun in In addition to understanding the Moon’s phases, the early
an elliptical orbit at an average distance from the Sun of 150 Greeks also realized that eclipses are simply shadow effects.
million kilometers (93 million miles). At perihelion (closest to When the Moon moves in a line directly between Earth and
the Sun), which occurs in January, Earth is 147 million kilo- the Sun, which can occur only during the new-Moon phase, it
meters from the Sun. At aphelion (farthest from the Sun), casts a dark shadow on Earth, producing a solar eclipse. A
which occurs in July, Earth is 152 million kilometers distant. lunar eclipse takes place when the Moon moves within the
The imaginary plane that connects Earth's orbit with the shadow of Earth during the full-Moon phase. Because the
celestial sphere is called the plane of the ecliptic. Moon’s orbit is inclined about 5 degrees to the plane that
0 One of the first astronomical phenomena to be understood contains the Earth and Sun (the plane of the ecliptic), during
was the regular cycle of the phases of the Moon. The cycle of most new- and full-Moon phases no eclipse occurs. Only if a
the Moon through its phases requires 29% days, a time span new- or full-Moon phase occurs as the Moon crosses the
called the synodic month. However, the true period of the plane of the ecliptic can an eclipse take place. The usual
Moon’s revolution around Earth takes 27% days and is known number of eclipses is four per year.

Key Terms
aphelion (p. 626) heliocentric (p. 614) retrograde motion (p. 615)
astronomical unit (AU) (p. 618) lunar eclipse (p. 629) revolution (p. 625)
axial precession (p. 625) mean solar day (p. 625) right ascension (p. 624)
celestial sphere (p. 613) perihelion (p. 626) rotation (p. 625)
constellations (p. 622) perturbation (p. 622) sidereal day (p. 625)
declination (p. 624) phases of the Moon (p. 628) sidereal month (p. 628)
ecliptic (p. 626) plane of the ecliptic (p. 626) solar eclipse (p. 629)
equatorial system (p. 624) Ptolemaic system (p. 614) synodic month (p. 628)
geocentric (p. 613)

Examining the Earth System

1. Currently, Earth is closest to the Sun (perihelion) in January hydrosphere? (To aid your understanding of the effect of
(147 million kilometers/ 91.5 million miles) and farthest from Earth's orbital parameters on the seasons, you may want to
the Sun in July (152 million kilometers/ 94.5 million miles). review the section “Variations in Earth’s Orbit” in Chapter 6,
As the result of the precession of Earth’s axis, 12,000 years pp. 170-171.)
from now perihelion (closest) will occur in Iuly and aphelion
2. In what ways do the interactions between Earth and its Moon
(farthest) will take place in January. Assuming no other
influence the Earth system? If Earth did not have a Moon,
changes, how might this change average summer tempera-
how might the atmosphere, hydrosphere, geosphere, and
tures for your location? What about average winter tempera-
biosphere be different?
tures? VVhat might the impact be on the biosphere and

Mastering Geology
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