Monday, September 17, 2012

A Question with an Astronomical Amount of Answers

 When you look up in the sky and glance out into the seemingly infinite amount of stars its likely that meny questions are raised. Astronomy has numerous topics that are discussed within it; however, one tends to stand out due to the interesting possibilities it could entail and that is the question of "Is there other intellectual life in the universe?"

In this post I will talk about an issue in figuring this problem out known as The Fermi Paradox which analyzes the fact that there are billions of stars that are billions of years old and allows us to deduce that there is a very high probability that there should be other intelligent life forms out there and over the long existence of the universe they should be technologically advanced enough to communicate with us, yet as far as we know aliens have never visited or tried to communicate with us.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Lunar Cycles

Today's topic is about the phases of the moon.  If you were paying attention in science class, you probably spent a little while learning this.  If not, here's a nice crash course on how the Moon orbits the Earth.  For most of us, all it means is that the moon looks different on a day to day basis, but looks about the same month to month.

In addition to looking different throughout the month, the moon's phases drive a few more phenomena.  The most readily observable phenomenon is that the moon rises and sets at different times throughout the month.  For example, the new moon rises with the sun, but the full moon rises as the sun is setting.

The moon also drives the tides.  Low tide occurs when the moon is near the horizon.  High tide occurs when the moon is high in the sky or when the moon is on the other side of the earth.  This is also affected by the phase of the moon.  When the moon is full or new, we experience spring tide, which has higher high tides and lower low tides than normal.  When the moon is first or third quarter, we experience neap tides, which has lower high tides and higher low tides.