To Infinity and Beyond

Q.    The To Infinity and Beyond Study criteria has a separate section about the sun, but the study guide doesn’t have a “sun” section. Should we assume that the sun questions will be there, but we’ll need to do our own research/study on that topic?

A.   Yes, you will need to do some research on the Sun yourself. I didn’t get to that part of the study guide. The expectations are pretty modest for this part of it – mostly that it’s a large hot ball of gas, and that the gas glows because it’s hot, and that the energy that is lost as light is compensated by the energy that you get by fusing hydrogen into helium in its core.

Q.    Some of the objects the students are supposed to identify on the observational test appear to be (according to Stellarium) below the horizon or imperceptible to the naked eye (specifically: Aquila, Orion, and Cygnus, M51, M80, M44, and M101). Will there be a zoom function or will the horizon be turned off? I’m curious as to how this will be handled. Thanks!!
A.    The ones that are imperceptible to the naked eye – I point to where they are on the sky and ask what object is here (even though you can’t see it) and what constellation it is in, and the students need to answer that. M44 is visible to the naked eye in a good site, others aren’t.

****Your question about the horizon is an interesting one, and exposes a couple of mistakes (sorry!) and some subtleties.****
  • First, M80 and Altair are below the horizon (doh! sorry). They obviously will not be on the test. My apologies; I am updating the study guide.
  • Betelgeuse in Orion is above the horizon, even though the rest of Orion is below the horizon.
  • Cygnus is mostly above the horizon.