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Fact of the Day: Tues.

, May 3rd:

There are over 400 different species of sharks

Sharks can feel vibrations in the water due to a line of canals that go from its head
to its tail, these canals are filled with sensory cells growing hair, the hair moves
when the water vibrates allowing them to quickly locate prey

The most dangerous sharks are the Great White Shark, the Hammerhead Shark,
the Tiger Shark, the Mako Shark and the Bull Shark

Shark Fin soup is a popular and traditional delicacy in Asia, Hawaii and Australia
but the practice of finning sharks is adding to the rapid decline of sharks and
hurtful to the animals. Up to 73 million sharks are killed a year for their fins

You are 1,000 times more likely to drown at sea than to be attacked by a shark

Sharks kill fewer than 10 people per year. Humans kill about 100 million sharks
per year.

The Solar System


How do you describe to people where you live?

What if the people lived very far away?
...But what if they lived outside of our solar system?
A big question this century is are there others out
there? Learning about life means understanding
what makes our planet special and exploring the
characteristics of the other bodies in our solar
How big do you think the solar system is, anyways?

Toilet Paper Solar System

Even in our own cosmic neighborhood, distances in space are so vast that
they are difficult to imagine

In this activity, you are going to build a scale model of the distances in the solar system using
a roll of toilet paper
Some things to consider:

This model only shows the relative distances between the planets, yet still we need 85
feet to do it
With the scale we are using, Jupiter would be the size of a grain of salt...SALT.
Planetary orbits are ellipses, so the numbers here represent the average distance from
the sun--planets will also never be in a straight line, as we will see today.

KEY: The counts in the table are starting from the Sun...NOT THE

Ex. After Mercury, you need 1.7 more sheets to get to Venus.

Toilet Paper Solar System

Astronomers believe there is a vast cloud of frozen comets called the Oort
cloud that surrounds our solar system. It lies ~50,000 times farther from the
Sun than the Earth is.

How many squares of toilet paper would you need to put the cloud on our scale model (of 200
Answer 50,000 x 5.1 = 255,000

Happy Star Wars Day: May the 4th be with you!

The voice of Yoda is done by Frank Oz, who also

happens to voice "Miss Piggy" from The Muppets.
Harrison Ford asked that Han Solo die at the end of
Empire during the carbon freezing process ... ...but his
request was denied by George Lucas.
Before being rewritten as comic relief, Jar Jar was a
mercenary who ultimately betrays Qui-Gon Jinn.
Yoda actually has a first name! It was never revealed in
the movies, because Lucas deliberately decided to leave
him with just one name to enhance the air of mystery
about him. (His full name was going to be Minch
It took as many as 10 puppeteers using both hands to
operate Jabba the Hutt.
During The Empire Strikes Back's asteroid scene, one
of the asteroids is actually a potato!

Section 1: Sun, Earth, and Moon

The View From Earth:

In the clear night sky, you can look up and

watch stars cross the sky.

Over time, you may see brighter objects

crossing star paths...the Greeks called these
objects planets,

The sun is our closest star

Because it is so close to us, it is very

which means wanderers.

Planet = any large object that orbits the sun or another

It is an average star, not particularly hot or

cool, and of average size.

Its diameter is 1.4 million kilometers, about 110

times the diameter of Earth. Its mass is over

How many planets (in addition to Earth) are visible to the

unaided eye?

300,000 times the mass of the Earth.

Five planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and

Along with the sun, other stars are also visible in the

Everything revolves around the sun

Along with all planets orbiting the sun, the sun is also

the source of heat and light for the entire system.

The Earth spins on its axis every 24 hours, and
revolves around the sun once every

Understanding the Seasons

The orbit of the Earth around the sun is elliptical (a

squashed circle), and the planet does not sit straight up
and down. It sits at a tilt (23.5 degrees).

365 days/one year.

As the Earth moves in its path around our star, there are
times a certain part of the planet is closer to the sun.

If the axis (the imaginary straight line around

which the Earth rotates to make day and night) is
pointing toward the sun, that hemisphere can
expect summer.

If the axis is pointed away from the sun on the

Earths yearly trip, that half of the planet will see

Revolution vs. Rotation

Why Tilt Affects Seasons

It is true that Earths orbit is not a perfect circle. It is a bit lop-sided. During part of
the year, Earth is closer to the sun than at other times. However, in the Northern
Hemisphere, we are having winter when Earth is closest to the sun and summer
when it is farthest away! Compared with how far away the sun is, this change in
Earth's distance throughout the year does not make much difference to our
weather...There is a different reason for Earth's seasons.
Earth's axis is an imaginary pole going right through the center of Earth from
"top" to "bottom." Earth spins around this pole, making one complete turn each
day. That is why we have day and night, and why every part of Earth's surface
gets some of each.
Earth has seasons because its axis doesn't stand up straight. Long, long ago,
when Earth was young, it is thought that something big hit Earth and knocked it
off-kilter. So instead of rotating with its axis straight up and down, it leans over a
As Earth orbits the sun, its tilted axis always points in the same direction. So,
throughout the year, different parts of Earth get the suns direct rays.

Earth is part of a solar system

Solar system = The sun and all of the planets and

other bodies that travel around it_

Gravity holds the solar system together

Force of gravity between 2 objects depends

on their masses and the distance
between them.

The sun is the most important part of our solar

system and makes up 99% of the total mass of the

The sun exerts the largest force in the solar

system because its mass is so large.

The nine planets and their moons make up most of

The pull of the sun keeps the planets

in orbit
Gravity keeps the moons orbiting around planets, and

the remaining 1%.

you on Earth.

Nine Planets Orbit the Sun

A planets distance from the sun determines how long

the planet takes to orbit the sun.

The Moon

Orbits Earth at a distance of 384,000 km.

Surface is covered with craters, mostly caused

by asteroid collisions.

The maria, or large, dark patches on the moon

are seas of lava that flowed out of the moons
interior, filled the impact craters, and
cooled to solid rock.

A satellite is an object in orbit around a body that has

a larger mass.

Example: The moon is Earths satellite because

the Earth has a larger mass.

All of the planets in our solar system have

moons except Mercury and

The moon has phases because it orbits Earth

The moon appears to have different shapes

throughout the month that are called phases.

The relative positions of Earth, the moon, and

the sun determine the phases.

As the moon revolves around the Earth, the

illuminated portion of the side of the moon
facing Earth changes.

The time from one full moon to the next is 29.5

days, or about one month.
There is not a dark side of the moon, but there
is a far side...

Because the rotational period is


exactly the same as the orbital period,

the same portion of the Moon's sphere is
always facing the Earth.

*Not to scale



Eclipse = An event in which the shadow of one

celestial body falls on another

I.e. When one object moves into the shadow

cast by another object.
Occur when the earth, the moon, and the sun line up.

Solar vs. Lunar eclipse:

The moon affects Earths Tides

Coastal areas on Earth have two high tides and two

low tides each day.

These tides are mainly a result of the
gravtitational influence of the moon.

On the side nearest the moon, the water and

land is pulled toward the moon, which
creates a bulge, i.e. high tide.

***Rare because moon

is slightly above/below
the line between the
Earth and Sun

The sun has a minor effect on tides...




Section 2: The Inner and Outer Planets

***The solar system has inner planets close to the sun and
more-distant outer planets, too.
The Inner Planets

Inner planets = terrestrial planets because they are

rocky, like Earth.

Inner planets _Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars.


Small and have solid, rocky surfaces.

Using telescopes scientists can study the

geologic features of these planets. Can also
use satellites and surface probes.

Pocked with craters

Surface temp. = 670 K


Night temp. = 103 K


No moons


Not likely to find life because no atmosphere

and no water.

2. Venus:
Hottest & brightest planet

Named for Roman goddess of love

CO2 clouds make it very reflective
Surface temp. Over 700 K

3. Earth:
Ideal conditions for living creatures

Only planet with large amounts of liquid water on its

70% covered in water
4. Mars:
Many missions have been sent to Mars: Viking 1 and 2,
Pathfinder, Sojourner, etc.

Known as the red planet


We think water used to flow across the surface


Has the largest volcanoes in the solar system

The asteroid belt divides the inner and outer planets

Between Mars and Jupiter.

Asteroids range in diameter from 3 to 700 km.

Asteroid = a small, rocky object that orbits the sun,
usually in a band between the orbits of Jupiter and
It would be rare for a large asteroid to hit Earth, but

The Outer Planets

Outer Planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune

Are all much larger than the inner planets

Have thick, gaseous atmospheres, many satellites,

and rings.

Outer planets = gas giants

Do not have a solid surface, so nothing can land on



Jupiter: (the largest planet)

Big enough to hold 1300 Earths

some pieces have hit Earth as meteorites.

As a portion of the rock burns up in the

atmosphere it makes a bright streak in the sky,
which we call a meteor.


Takes 12 earth years to orbit the sun


Known as the giant, stormy planet


Great Red Spot = a huge hurricane

2. Saturn:
Has the most extensive ring system
Rings made of: narrow bands of tiny particles
of dust, rock, and ice

Furthest planet that can be seen from Earth

without a telescope

3. Uranus & Neptune:


Both are similar to each other in size and color: they

are blue giants
Contain gaseous atmospheres made up of
Hydrogen, helium, and methane (CH4) give them
a bluish color.

Uranus has a tilt of 98 degrees (extreme seasons)

Neptune has a Great Dark Spot (huge storm in Neptunes
blue atmopshere)

*To scale