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Introduction to Astrophysics

Lecture 3: Our Solar System and the Pluto Problem

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Lecture Details :

Class begins with a review of the first problem set. Newton's Third Law is applied in explaining how exoplanets are found. An overview of the Solar System is given; each planet is presented individually and its special features are highlighted. Astronomy is discussed as an observational science, and the subject of how to categorize objects in the Solar System is addressed. The Pluto controversy is given special attention and both sides of the argument regarding its status are considered.

Course Description :

This course focuses on three particularly interesting areas of astronomy that are advancing very rapidly: Extra-Solar Planets, Black Holes, and Dark Energy. Particular attention is paid to current projects that promise to improve our understanding significantly over the next few years. The course explores not just what is known, but what is currently not known, and how astronomers are going about trying to find out.

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