- An Introduction to Astronomy and Astrophysics - CRC Press Book
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- Introductory Astronomy and Astrophysics
You can also find additional materials, flyers, and posters on this page and you find a special information flyer for teachers and schools here: Teacher Information Flyer. Below you find several materials such as information flyers or posters to get further information about this year's competition or to promote the International Astronomy and Astrophysics Competition:. Since IAAC is an international competition with participants distributed all around the world, it is crucial to have official IAAC ambassadors in several schools, cities, and countries.
Being an IAAC ambassador is not only good for your CV and career experiences, but it gives you the unique opportunity to prove your skills as a coordinator and to encourage students to get engaged with astronomy. Requirements You have to be at least 14 years old, be interested in science and astronomy, and be willing to spend the time to encourage students to get enganged with astronomy and to participate in IAAC. Responsibilities and Benefits You have a variety of responsibilities such as to encourage students and youths to participate in IAAC and to inform schools, local institutes, etc.
You also have the power to operate in the name of IAAC, to establish a strong and vital IAAC group in your region, and to inspire other youths for astronomy and science! Special Awards for Ambassadors Special awards are given each year to the most active ambassadors to honour their excellent and responsible performance.
This includes awards for encouraging many participants as well as for coordinating many activities. However, your main purpose of becoming ambassador should always be to inspire youths! You find more information here: Awards and Prizes. Application Process In order to verify your eligibility as official IAAC ambassador, please fill out the ambassador application form: this includes your CV and a short motivation statement that explains your reasons and plans for becoming IAAC ambassador.
After you applied, the Public Relations Manager of , Mr. Note: The ambassador application period for this year's competition is over. Thank you. What is IAAC? International Astronomy and Astrophysics Competition. Are you ready? Process and Rounds 1. Qualification Round The qualification round is the first stage and consists of five astronomy problems that have been published online. You can download the problem sheet below.
The problems vary in topic and difficulty: Some of the problems test your astronomy knowledge, others require calculations. The qualification round will not only sharpen your mind but you may also learn more about astronomy and astrophysics! All participants of the qualification round will receive participation certificates. The submission deadline for the qualification round is Participate Now. Pre-Final Round Participants that have solved the qualification round successfully are qualified to participate in the pre-final round. The problems will be more challenging, but even more interesting!
The pre-final round consists of 10 different problems that vary in difficulty, points, and topic: 4x basic problems four points , 4x advanced problems six points , 2x research problems ten points. It is possible to reach up to 60 points in total. Participants have to reach at least 30 points junior or 40 points youth to qualify for the final round. All participants that are qualified and registered for the pre-final round will receive the problems on Monday 6.
May From that day on you have one week until Sunday May to solve as many problems as possible! Final Round Participants that have solved the pre-final round successfully are qualified to participate in the final round: The final round consists of a single minutes exam with 40 multiple-choice questions. The questions require knowledge about astronomy and astrophysics as well as calculation skills and creativity. Every finalist has to appoint a supervisor for example a school teacher that will supervise the final exam.
The awards and prizes are given to the finalists with the most points in the final round. You can view your submission status as well as further information and your certificates here: Submission Status Note: The submissions period for this year's competition is over. Information for Teachers and Schools. Awards and Prizes [PDF]. Timetable and Deadlines [PDF]. Ambassador Login. Ambassador Application Form. Astronomy is an outstanding scientific subject that has inspired us humans for thousands of years: The International Astronomy and Astrophysics Competition gives students the opportunity to challenge their astronomy knowledge in a friendly competition and - by participating - to learn more about this interesting subject.
IAAC has the aim to be accessible to all students from all countries regardless of their background. Furthermore, the IAAC uses today's technologies and the global connection through the internet to make this competition possible. Astronomy is a great motivation for students to get in touch with science and to start a professional career as a researcher or engineer. I have already participated. Should I participate again? Yes, of course! Are teams allowed? Everyone has to submit his own solution. However, for the qualification round, you are allowed to work on the problems with your friends together.
Where do I find problems of last year's competition? This is the first year that this astronomy competition takes places in this format on an international level. Astronomy and astrophysics require knowledge from multiple fields: This includes in particular physics and math. Participants can use normal astronomy books to prepare for the problems - general scientific knowledge and math skills will be helpful.
How is the International Astronomy and Astrophysics Competition organized? The International Astronomy and Astrophysics Competition are proud to be one of the biggest independent global competition that promotes the learning of astronomy and is not affiliated to an organization or institution. We thank all coordinators that do their best to make this competition possible for students from all around the world as well as our partners and sponsors for financial support.
We are especially strong partners with the International Youth Math Challenge. Will there be verification codes on the certificates? This enables others to verify the authenticity of the certificates and documents: Verification page.
All students high school or university that are at least 10 years old are allowed to participate. However, there are two age categories: Junior under 18 years by April and Youth over 18 years by April Yes, as long as you are at least 10 years old and currently studying in a high school or university. I will turn 18 after the submission deadline. To which age category do I belong? The age criterion is determined by your age on the submission deadline of the qualification round April : Junior under 18 years by What is the difference between the age categories Students from both categories will receive the same problems in all rounds , however, students that are in the Youth category will have to reach more points e.
Do I have to be a student to participate? Yes, you have to be a student in a high school or a university to participate. If you are currently between high school and university e. Do all participants receive participation certificates? Yes, all participants receive participation certificates soft copy regardless of the results.
Hoch much is the total prize? There are over 35 awards and prizes in total. You find more information about the awards and prizes here: All Awards and Prizes. Hoch many prizes and awards are there? All participants receive participation certificates. What is the "Special Honour for digital Submission"? All participants that use professional computer programs e. TeX to write down their solutions receive a special honorary note on their certificates since this skill is important for the future career.
What are the special regional awards? Because IAAC is an international competition, we honor the best participants from each region of the world with a special certificate: More Information. Why is my country not listed for the special regional awards? The list in the information document here only includes examples.
Every country of the world is regognized in one of the regions listed. How can I receive my results and certificates? We will send all results and certificates via email; you can also check your results and your certificates online: Check Status. Do I need to win to receive a certificate? No, all participants regardless of the results receive participation certificates. Do I receive a hard copy of my certificate? All winners will receive hard copies of their certificates.
All participation and finalists certificates will be sent as soft copy via email to lower the expenses and to protect the environment. Are there awards for teachers and schools? Yes, we understand the crucial role of teachers and schools for science education. Because of that, we award several school awards to honor the efforts of the teachers and the school the awards are not connected to cash prize : Teacher Information Flyer.https://turodjuncseban.cf
An Introduction to Astronomy and Astrophysics - CRC Press Book
Are there awards for IAAC ambassadors? Yes, you find more information here: All Awards and Prizes. How does a school win one of the school awards? Schools participate automatically if a student registers with the school name. Please make sure that all of your students write the school name correctly and the same! Also, we recommend that a teacher of the school registers: Teacher Registration. What should the submission file include? The submission file should include the solution to as many problems of the qualification round as possible.
Do I need to register somewhere before I can submit my solution? No, you participate in IAAC by submitting your solution. Most go on to careers in science and engineering. More than Starlab portable planetariums foot inflatable domes from Learning Technologies, Cambridge, Massachusetts have reached some five million school children mostly in the earlier grades, and including many inner city and disadvantaged kids.
At the Thacher School Summer Science Program, about students over the past 30 years have worked on an astronomical research project determining asteroid orbits from photographs and mastering the necessary associated math and physics. All participants go on to college. About 37 percent of the pre graduates are now working in science and medicine, and 34 percent in engineering, mathematics, and computer science including the founder of Lotus Development Corporation.
Haystack Observatory has a similarly-successful summer internship for middle school students and the University of Illinois has one for high school students. Six inner-city San Antonio schools are pioneering a junior-level year of high school science consisting of astronomy and marine biology as part of Project The real surprise is that most of the students have chosen to take another year of science as an elective in their senior years. Many of these projects were initiated within the astronomical community, and all have had some input from researchers.
But this is an area where more can and should be done. Specific initiatives are proposed by other panels. It is at the high school level and earlier that science must be made attractive to students, before they decide not to take the necessary mathematics. The activities discussed here have three connections with astronomical and other scientific research. First, virtually all of them have either been initiated by or had significant input from research-oriented astronomers.
Second, many lines of anecdotal evidence indicate that informal exposure to astronomy motivates people to take a serious interest in science and technology as potential careers. And, finally, in order for books, television programs, planetarium shows, and other presentations about astronomy to remain as popular as they are, there has to be a continuing stream of exciting new results to present.
Cosmos is the most successful public television series in history, seen by about million people in 60 countries. The book version is the best-selling English-language science book ever, and the home video version had , orders placed for the full 13 episodes before release, an unprecedented number for any kind of videotape. Other astronomical television items include:. Project Universe, a series of 30 half-hour programs which reached its th showing in , most broadcasts being on local stations in cooperation with nearby colleges offering credit for the series as a course.
Extensive, widely-watched coverage of the Voyager Neptune encounter, whose audiences included millions of young people in and out of school, and a large number of Pasadena residents and visitors even some European amateur astronomers who flew in for the occasion , who watched in real time at an auditorium near the Jet Propulsion Laboratory JPL. A Galactic Odyssey funded and produced by Japanese National Television and The Astronomers' Universe funded by the Keck Foundation and produced by KCET , which are hour series focusing on astronomy and the people who do it, scheduled for broadcasts.
One of the stated purposes of the Keck-sponsored series is to motivate pre-college students to consider careers in science and technology. Astronomy is one of the few sciences with its own profit-making book club. A volume featured by book clubs will sell in the range of 40, copies e. The New York Times list of ten best non-fiction books included three on astronomy, and the subject is similarly over-represented among the winners of the American Institute of Physics science writing award.
Sales of magazines in reveal , regular readers of Scientific American, 95, of Sky and Telescope, and , of Astronomy, indicating that percent of the audience for science at this level is specifically an audience for astronomy. Within the broader-based magazines Discover, Science Digest, Scientific American, and Science about 7 percent of the articles over the past decade have dealt with astronomy. In contrast, professional astronomical journals make up 0. While few papers cover astronomy as regularly as astrology, the subject is over-represented relative to other sciences in newspapers as well as magazines.
Cornell, Center for Astrophysics, personal communication Of the 9. About a third of a million visitors saw the planetarium show. On smaller scales:. All but two of the fifty states have observatories or planetariums regularly open to the public. McDonald, Palornar, and Kitt Peak Observatories report that about , people per year travel the relatively large distances necessary to visit each of them. McDonald Observatory has been featured in the monthly Texas hotel magazine for tourists.
Griffith Observatory, near Los Angeles, more accessible than the research observatories, hosted 1. The Adler Planetarium in Chicago records about , visitors per year. The total number of planetariums in the U. It has received a Corporation for Public Broadcasting award for excellence and attracted half a million letters from listeners over the past decade. At least 20 astronomical telephone hot lines operate in the US. Most change about weekly and feature a mix of local observing information moon phases, planets, and so on and research news. A typical one, Starwatch at University of Minnesota, receives about 30 calls a day more during Voyager encounters, Halley perihelion, etc.
Incoming students at the University sometimes mention that Starwatch was a factor in their choosing the institution and a science major. Every state in the union has at least one active astronomy club. More than dealers and manufacturers are engaged in the business of providing telescopes, accessories, and software for observers who are not professional astronomers.
Some highlight activities are the following:. Telescope and magazine sales suggest that roughly , people take some interest in amateur astronomy. Of these, more than 14, belong to the main umbrella groups, the Astronomical League and the Western Amateur Astronomers. Their publication, The Planetary Report, recently reported results of a random survey by the Public Opinion Laboratory at Northern Illinois University indicating that half or more of adult Americans support the Society's goals.
The American Association of Variable Star Observers provides a bridge between the amateur and professional communities. Of its members, about half each year provide about , observations of stars to a central data depository. Amateur observers of variable stars thus outnumber the professionals about of whom per year make use of AAVSO data. The total number of contributors over the history of the society is nearly , equal to the current membership of the AAS.
Another important AAVSO contribution is providing data to educators for astronomically-based labs and science projects. Association membership data indicate that amateur astronomy participation among young people serves to recruit both future astronomers and scientists, engineers, and programmers in other disciplines.
Amateur astronomers frequently share their interests and expertise with Scout troops, school classes, and other groups of young people. About 70 American colleges and Universities currently offer degrees in astronomy or closely related fields, awarding about Ph. Most of the. As indicated in the report of the Panel on Status of the Profession, about half as many astronomers leave the field each year as receive new Ph.
Complete samples of doctoral recipients from the California Institute of Technology and 94 from the University of Maryland confirm this.
About half are primarily engaged in astronomical research; 20 percent are employed in other sciences and in industry; 7 percent hold teaching or science administration positions; and most of the rest work on hardware or software in support of astronomical or related research. Of recent astronomy bachelors, a little more than half go directly on to graduate school a third of them in astronomy and the others enter the work force directly Ellis and Mulvey Complete samples from a few institutions over a longer time period confirm this pattern.
The samples include Swarthmore College 28 B. Undergraduates in astronomy are much more likely than those in most other sciences to engage in significant, publishable research; and this may contribute to the high retention rate. If so, there might be a useful example to be followed by other sciences where the ratio of Ph. Astronomy has benefited from technological advances made in many fields in science and engineering, but astronomy also contributes to technological advances in two ways.
First, the demands of researchers for devices at the very edge of what is possible have sometimes been the drivers for industrial development whose products were then useful elsewhere. Photographic emulsions are a classic example. Second, ideas, algorithms, devices, processes, materials, and so forth invented within the astronomical community are from time to time modified for use in other areas: the radio astronomy technique of aperture synthesis is such a case. The first four subsections categorize items by the fields in which they are applied rather than the part of astronomy within which they originated.
The concluding subsections briefly address some potential areas for future technology transfer and the support of astronomy by the private sector. The single largest problem shared by medicine and astronomy is that of imaging things you cannot get to and of reconstructing two or three dimensional structures from a number of one or two dimensional scans.
Astronomers, especially radio astronomers, led the way in solving this problem. Martin Ryle's Nobel Prize cited his development of aperture synthesis, and the solution to image reconstruction pioneered by Bracewell and Riddle is now used in CAT scanners, magnetic resonance imaging, positron emission tomography, and other medical imaging methods. Specific computer languages and ways of handling large data arrays have also proven transferable from astronomy to medicine.
Their medical applications include. Study of activity and chemistry of neutron in the brain University of Southern California. The need for clean environments is another problem common to medicine and astronomy. A version of the positive pressure clean room designed at the University of Wisconsin for work on the OAO-1 satellite is now in many hospitals. NASA's needs for contamination-free environments led to data bases, handbooks, and courses for clean room personnel, as well as air handlers and ''bunny suits" whose commercial versions appear in hospitals and pharmaceutical labs.
Automatic Plate Measuring facility to use its expertise in scanning and interpreting images to analyze blood samples from leukemia patients. This permits much more rapid detection of responses to changes in medication and other pharmacological effects than would otherwise be possible. Radio astronomers have adapted their methods of measuring microwave temperature for non-invasive detection of tumors and other regions of vascular insufficiency. Microwaves have poorer angular resolution than infrared but are more sensitive to deep tissue temperatures. The combination of microwave and infrared thermographic data provides a true-positive detection rate of 96 percent, better than either alone, for breast cancer Barrett et al.
Tiny paste-on thermal sensors first designed to keep ultraviolet detectors within their narrow operating temperature range have been adapted for controlling heat lamps in neonatology units. Finally, the X-raying of people shares with X-ray astronomy the problem of having fewer photons than you would like to work with. Thus the Lixiscope low intensity x-ray imaging scope , a portable, low-energy X-ray scanner to which NASA holds the patents, is widely used in neonatology, out-patient surgery, diagnosis of sports injuries, and third world clinics.
The FDA even used it to search for poisoned capsules during the Tylenol scare a few years ago. A second generation spin-off, the Fluoroscan imaging system, has a variable power X-ray tube source among other improvements and a wider range of applications, including catheter placement. The two kinds of spin-off driving development and originating ideas are illustrated by astronomical interactions with photography and the communications industry.
As early as , C. Mees the first research director at Eastman Kodak initiated research leading to special series of spectroscopic plates to meet astronomical needs. The sensitizing dyes and emulsion-making techniques resulting from this work led to products of wide utility. One example is gold sensitization, which made possible Tri-X and a number of other speed films from Kodak and other manufacturers.
These have dominated the professional and amateur high speed film market for a number of years. Kodak Technical Pan film, whose sharp resolution and fine grain permit enormous enlargements, is used by medical and industrial spectroscopists, industrial photographers, and serious fine-art photographers. It was first developed for solar astronomers interested in recording changes in fine scale surface structure. Red and infrared-sensitive emulsions, evolved for spectroscopic plates, now penetrate military camouflage, and detect diseased crops and forests. Other applications include dentistry, medical diagnosis, and probing below the surface of paintings for evidence of forgery or pentimentos.
Hypersensitization techniques, developed by astronomers during the s, show promise in medical and industrial microscopy and in autoradiography. Radio astronomy has been a copious source of transferable technology, algorithms, and people interested in applying them, especially in communications. Millitech, whose founders came from the University of Massachusetts radio astronomy group, now builds millimeter wavelength components based on devices used in radio astronomy, for the communications industry.
Their products include varactor multipliers, voltage-tunable Gunn oscillators, and cooled GaAs Schottky mixers Weinreb and Kerr Radio astronomers also founded Interferometrics Vienna, Virginia which tests and evaluates antennas using holographic methods first reduced to practice by British radio astronomers. A holographic map of a dish surface takes a few hours versus several days for a mechanical survey to reveal high and low spots that must be corrected before for instance sidebands are low enough to meet FCC standards for satellite communication links.
Honeywell of Denver is now producing these high-density headstacks as a standard component. Radio astronomers have been both drivers and developers of low noise amplifiers, including cryogenically-cooled gallium-arsenide field effect transistors now marketed by Berkshire Technologies, also founded by radio astronomers and high electron mobility transistors, which may replace masers in some communications amplifiers.
The computer control language FORTH was invented by a professional programmer with a strong interest in astronomy and first applied by him to coordinate telescope operation, data acquisition, and initial reduction for the NRAO foot dish at Kitt Peak. It has grown into a profitable company Forth, Inc. About 20 vendors supply Forth systems for hardware from handheld computers to VAX mainframes.
The system is currently used in a rule based "expert system" automobile engine analyzer at over 20, service stations world wide and in a high-accuracy densitometer used by Kodak for quality control in film manufacture. The initial support from NRAO and wide diffusion of Forth through the astronomical community were instrumental in its development into a broadly-applicable system. Acquisition of the patents for the first gravitational radiation detectors by Hughes Research Laboratory for use in modified form to sense gravity anomalies associated with underground oil pools.
Cold spot welding techniques that do not distort the underlying metal, developed at University of Wisconsin during construction of OAO The common technological needs of astronomical observations and of certain defense programs have often resulted in one research community developing techniques or making observations useful to the other. For example, satellite and aerial surveillance have replaced many ground-based intelligence activities. The resulting increased certainty on both sides that accurate information will be available has contributed to recent progress in arms reduction.
Surveillance requires telescopes with large accurate mirrors, precision optics, and the ability to process numerous imperfect images and extract the maximum possible amount of information. The necessary large mirror technology, adaptive optics, and processing algorithms have all had significant input from techniques developed within astronomy and by people trained as astronomers, from the time of the U2 cameras to the present.
Some specific examples which extend across the electromagnetic spectrum:. A recent investigation at Grumman on recognizing rocket plumes for strategic warning purposes made use both of observations of stars and of model stellar atmospheres to discriminate plumes from cosmic objects. Aperture synthesis radar is the remote descendent of the radio astronomy technique for which Martin Ryle won the Nobel Prize.
Development of the channeltron was supported originally for ultraviolet astronomy, but it has since found its way into various uv military cameras. Expertise developed in conjunction with the Kuiper Airborne Observatory has provided direct support to several Navy and Air Force airborne infrared sensor development programs. Star counts and models of stellar spatial distribution are used to assess data rates for spaceborne signal processors and sensors as well as for satellite pointing and calibration. Astronomers who had been working on X-and gamma-ray detectors at Los Alamos helped build the instruments for the Vela satellite monitors.
Solar blind photon counters were invented for uv astronomy and later adapted to sensing the uv corona round supersonic objects in daylight and for toxic gas detection. The Air Force Weapons Laboratory at Albuquerque has issued a number of contracts to astronomers to investigate topics like optical imaging of satellites in geosynchronous orbits using meter baseline optical interferometry.
The techniques being developed by Itek, LBL, and others for stress polishing of off-axis mirror segments for the Keck telescope have potential defense uses.
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A background in astrophysics appears to provide flexibility and skills in carrying out approximate calculations based on integrating information from a variety of sources that are a good match to defense laboratory needs. The presence of Soviet reactors in space has apparently been known to DoD for some time, but astronomical gamma-ray detectors on the Solar Maximum Mission and on a University of California, Riverside balloon-borne experiment made independent discoveries of the phenomenon Rieger et al.
Looking ahead, the Navy is supporting neutrino astronomy for its long-term potential for communicating through the earth and for long distances under water. Grazing-incidence X-ray optical devices, which have been reduced to practice for solar astronomy, are likely to find future applications in laser weapons. Another area where astronomical and defense interests overlap is in the need for precise coordinate systems, times, and time intervals, for use in navigation, clock synchronization, guidance, and secure communications as well as in astrophysics.
The fundamental time standards are now atomic clocks, not the earth's rotation, but the determination and dissemination of time data for the U. Accurate measurements of the earth's rotation rate are needed to keep civil time in step with astronomical time. This must be done for navigational and other purposes and is accomplished by a network of radio and optical observing stations, maintained by USNO and observatories of many other nations.
Very Long Baseline Interferometry between widely separated radio telescopes was the original driver to turn hydrogen maser clocks into rugged, off-the-shelf items, whose main users are now space communications and DoD. In addition, VLBI methods are currently used to synchronize widely separated clocks at the nanosecond level. The fundamental celestial coordinate system used for navigation is now a radio based one. The locations of the artificial satellites which make up the Global Positioning System and which transmit their own radio signals are in the process of being tied to the positions of quasars and other distant sources.
Inertial guidance systems for missiles and other purposes require this accurate astronomical coordinate system for their calibration. Accurate optical star positions are used in surveying and in automated star-tracker guidance systems. The tying together of accurate radio and optical coordinate systems is a topic of current intense study. Finally, because satellite orbits are blind to the assorted wobbles of the earth beneath, correct location of terrestrial targets for environmental and surveillance imaging as well as bombing requires accurate forecasts of earth orientation.
The search for fossil fuels and alternative energy sources has benefited from astronomical spin-offs in several contexts. For instance,. Texaco, Inc. SAIC San Diego has built solar radiation collectors up to 16 meters in diameter using graphite composite materials first developed in design studies for a proposed orbiting telescope called the LDR Large Deployable Array. Grazing incidence X-ray optics was reduced to practice for solar astronomy and now finds application in plasma diagnostics for magnetically confined plasma fusion. Detailed knowledge of atomic spectra at high temperatures, gained from study of the solar corona, is also important in this context.
Plasma and magneto-hydrodynamic phenomena, including magnetic reconnection and radiation-driven thermal instabilities, were first explored in solar and space physics environments. They also occur in fusion plasmas and are deleterious there. Remote sensing from orbiting satellites is now the method of choice for keeping track of an enormous range of ecologically important factors-the extent of the Arctic ice pack; the moisture content of soil in the Sahel; upper atmosphere profiles of temperature, density, and trace constituents; sea surface temperatures; and many others.
Astronomically-derived image processing algorithms are widely used in these applications. Several of these are mentioned elsewhere. Another with many remote sensing and oceanographic uses is a digital correlation technique for spectral analysis of broadband signals which came out of radio astronomy Weinreb ; Cooper Specific radio, microwave, and infrared spectroscopic methods from astronomy have also proven useful in environmental applications from space and ground.
Downward looking millimeter wave sounding traces back to work on the atmospheres of Venus and Mars and was validated for the earth by radio astronomers using balloon borne telescopes. Millimeter wave technology in space e. Microwave sounders, scheduled for the ATLAS series of spacelab experiments and for the Earth Observation Satellites, were developed by a consortium of American and European radio astronomers and atmospheric scientists. A particularly timely application of microwave astronomy techniques from the ground is study of chlorine chemistry relevant to ozone depletion in the Antarctic.
In September , instruments developed by radio astronomers at SUNY, Stony Brook found a hundred times the normal concentration of chlorine oxide at an altitude of km in the Antarctic ozone hole. The excess disappeared in October, verifying the role of manmade chlorine compounds in ozone depletion. The detailed chemistry had earlier been tested by the group's measurements of the diurnal variation of chlorine oxide in the middle stratosphere above Mauna Kea.
The Antarctic spring cycle of chlorine oxide rise and fall was followed through the season with better instrumentation yielding the full concentration profile from 16 to 40 km. Monitoring at about five sites around the world over the next years is planned as part of the NASA-sponsored Network for the Detection of Stratospheric Change. Many of us benefit regularly from the machinery used to X-ray luggage in airports, whose design descends from that of the earth rocket and satellite borne X-ray telescopes. Airport surveillance for drugs and explosives makes use of a particular gas chromatograph design supported by NASA for use on Mars.
Some other mundane spin-offs from ground and space-based astronomy include:. A hand-held COD photometer developed by astronomers at University of Hawaii for use by policemen checking the transparency of automobile windshields. A non-invasive probe for contaminants likely to cause structural weakening in historic buildings; it has a neutron source and gamma-ray spectrometer, was first used to analyze lunar soil, and has been tried by astronomers at GSFC in a Colonial Williamsburg smoke house and at St.
Mark's Basilica in Venice to look inside the walls behind fragile mosaics. Software to process two-dimensional images on a personal computer, developed by Michael Norman at the National Center for Supercomputing Illinois for his own astronomical purposes and modified for public consumption; about 10, copies have been sold. Use of Forth in the hand-held computers carried by the 40, delivery agents of one of the major express mail firms.
Application to industrial and amateur photography of enhancement techniques developed by David Malin for handling astronomical images from large telescopes Malin , Technology transfer is an ongoing process. For instance, observers are currently driving COD technology as they did photography earlier in the direction of thinning the chips to broaden the range of wavelengths over which they are sensitive.
And astronomers are pushing for cryogenic infrared array detectors with very low backgrounds and long integration times, so that they can be used at low light levels. These technologies are likely to prove useful for non-astronomical purposes. X-ray astronomers have been responsible for the development of bolometers and superconducting devices as non-dispersive spectrometers.
The entire energy of the of the absorbed X-ray is transformed into an electrical signal via phonons, producing a much larger response for a given X-ray energy than in photoelectric detectors. These have potential applications in non-destructive testing and in medicine, where getting the largest possible signal out of the fewest possible X-rays is also important. Many radio astronomy observatories with millimeter-wave antennas are currently developing SIS superconducting-insulating-superconducting mixers for low noise receivers.
Millimeter-wave astronomers are also working on error-correcting secondary mirrors and lenses. Such error-correcting optics is likely to be part of high-performance communication, surveillance, and other non-astronomical antennas and telescopes of the future.
No other branch of science, except medicine, has had as much support as astronomy from private individuals, industrial firms, and foundations. Two of our great observatories, Lick and McDonald, bear the names of the men whose bequests founded them. Both are now largely maintained by state and local, not federal, funding. Contributions from Rockefeller and Carnegie and the foundations they established have built and helped maintain the Yerkes, Mr. Palomar, Mr. Wilson, and Las Companas Observatories. More recently, Oscar Meyer provided some much-needed new buildings for Palomar.
And money from the Keck Foundation is even now being transformed into a ten-meter telescope that will be the largest American optical observing facility for the next generation. The motive for this generosity apart from tax laws appears to have been the breadth of vision needed to span a nation with railroads or to build up a steel industry appreciating the breadth of vision needed to span the Universe and build an understanding of it. Other interactions have been of more obvious mutual benefit. A recent document from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics encourages federal support of the Hubble Space Telescope and similar projects because "such cutting edge technology programs stimulate commercial spin-offs of potentially great value to industry and to the nation's economy.
The process of compiling this report revealed that people whose livelihoods in no way depend upon astronomy can nevertheless feel that it is an essential activity. Whenever the AASC received a bit of publicity, they wrote, phoned, and sent photocopies emphasizing that astronomy is needed to attract students into science and technology, to inspire long-range advances e.
As far back as history records, peoples have attempted to understand how the world got to be the way it is, what the big picture is, and how we fit into it. Anthropologists call the answers even answers they. Our modern Western myths have a long history, with input from Greek philosophy, from Judeo-Christian religious ideas, and, at Several critical points, from astronomical research.
The Copernican revolution was the most obvious and far reaching of these. The earth ceased to be the unique center of everything and declined to merely one of several planets orbiting the sun. With further celestial study, our sun, in turn, metamorphosed into a typical, undistinguished star, not even at the center of the Galaxy. A third of the way into the 20th century, our Milky Way Galaxy itself had shrunk to a status neither special nor central to anything. In fact, cosmic models incorporating general relativity show that all places in the Universe are equivalent, there being neither any center nor any edges.
And in just the last few years, a picture of the very early Universe motivated by theory on the frontier between cosmology and particle physics has made it seem plausible that the Universe-the entire four-dimensional space-time with which we might ever communicate-is only one of many universes, dictionary definitions notwithstanding. Curiously, other recent astronomical research has pushed our thinking back a little bit in the other direction. The life-bearing earth really is very different from the other nearby planets.
Looking down at it from space, we can see our home as a single, small, fragile entity, whose residents all have a common, profound interest in its well being. Other 19th and 20th century discoveries clarify other aspects of our relationship to the rest of the Universe. The spectra of the sun and stars show absorption and emission lines in just the same patterns that are radiated by common chemical elements when you heat them in the laboratory.
Thus celestial objects do not consist of some ''quintessence" or substance unique to them. They are made of the same stuff that we are, and even in more or less the same proportions. Apart from helium which forms no stable compounds , the commonest elements in the stars are the hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon that make up most of our bodies. Close study of spectra of distant galaxies and quasars reveals not only this commonalty of composition but also that the constants and laws of physics are the same at distant times and places as they are here and now on earth.
The totality of modern astronomy makes up a major part of our Western creation myth, answering many of the traditional questions about how big, how old, and what came before. The world, or Universe, is large. It is the same in all directions on large enough scales. It expands and is only three or four times older than the earth itself but the earth is some million times older than the span of an average human life. We are made of starstuff-chemical elements built up from hydrogen atoms by nuclear reactions in massive stars. And chemical reactions in interstellar gas and in the material that formed the meteorites and comets have produced the same molecules that are the building blocks of living creatures on earth.
The task of clarifying our relationship to the rest of the Universe is an on-going one, with many important questions still incompletely answered. It is, for instance, just becoming meaningful to ask whether the Universe could have been very different from what it is in size, age, laws of physics, kinds of particles, and so forth and whether such a different Universe could have life arise in it. On smaller scales, detailed studies of Mars and Venus will play an important part in understanding the early evolution of the earth's atmosphere, oceans, and biosphere, and in determining just how delicate the present state of terrestrial habitability is likely to be.
The "where do we belong" aspect of astronomy seems to be responsible for most of the popular interest in the subject. The potential for technology transfer and for attracting students into the sciences may be good though not central reasons for funding astronomical research. But they are not the reasons that people watch Cosmos, buy and build small telescopes, or read books and articles about astronomy. Rather, these people are seeking new answers to the old human questions about the world and our place in it.
An important property of the modern creation myth is that its answers are neither static nor given by fiat. Everything or nearly everything within the sciences is subject to change without notice. Our picture of the Universe expands and evolves as our knowledge expands and evolves. A vigorous continuation of this process can help to keep human minds flexible enough to deal with immediate practical problems that now also change on timescales much less than a human lifespan.
Introductory Astronomy and Astrophysics
Practicing astronomers feel a great deal of certainty that, although any given piece of information may turn out to be wrong, the basic process of inquiry is sound and leads to continuously better understanding of the world around us. Confidence that the Universe is neither incomprehensible nor intrinsically hostile is perhaps the most important return astronomers can offer to their fellow citizens.
Astronomy as part of our world view has a less serious side as well. For instance, the phrase "black hole". Bill Frenzel R-Minn. Modern astrophysics has not inspired any artistic works comparable with Dante's treatment of medieval cosmology's circles of heaven and hell, but Van Gogh's "Starry Night" reveals a mind not unmoved by the Universe as it is now understood. And each new astronomical-discovery novae, supernovae, neutron stars, black holes, multiple Universes, and many others-has inspired science fiction films, stories, and novels tying these discoveries to possible individual lives.
Science and technology are normally perceived as factors in international competition, both military and economic. That aspect is by no means absent in astronomy.