Question About a Potential Career in Astronomy

Question: Hi, my name is Adam. I am 21 years of age, and want to study in astronomer. I just recently started taking classes at a local community college. I haven’t been in school for a few years. Do I have what it takes. I feel like I am delusional for even thinking i can do this. I am disabled do to a car accident when I was 16. I really want to see what is out there beyond this world which is why I truly want to succeed. Do you have any advice.  — Adam

Answer: I think that you are taking the right approach to determine if a career as a scientist is the right thing for you by taking some community college classes.  If you find that you like the subject matter of these classes, and you do well in them, then you should consider looking into a career as an astronomer.  You can find quite a bit of information on a career in science and astronomy in the Careers in Astronomy section of this blog.  If you have further questions after looking over this information please do let us know.

Jeff Mangum

Tagged Leave a comment

Interested in a Career as an Astronomer

Question: Hi! I am 16 years old and I am interested in being an astronomer. I was wondering if there is like a co-op or a tour or something of the job so I can see what it is like and if you could give me any advice or tips id appreciate that too!  — Emily

Answer: Great that you are interested in a career in astronomy!  You should check-out the information on the “Careers in Astronomy” section of this blog for lots of tips and information about a career as an astronomer.  If you have further questions then please do let us know.

Jeff Mangum

Tagged Leave a comment

Why Do High Tides Happen Both on the Side of the Earth Facing Toward and Away from the Moon?

Question: During new moon, moon is between earth and sun. The spring tide then occurs. The height of high tide is higher. But on right side of image why is water having high tide. As there is no force pulling water from right side of image. As sun and moon are on left.  — Priyanshu

Answer: You are right in that high tide occurs on the sides of the Earth which face toward and away from the Moon.  This is due to the fact that around the Moon is pulling on the Earth, and the ocean, on the sides facing the Moon.  The Earth compensates for this pulling by bulging out both toward and away from the Moon.  This results in more water being displaced in these directions, resulting in high tide.  One gets the higher tides, called spring tides, when the gravitational force of the Sun is added to that of the Moon, which makes the bulge on the Earth’s surface a bit larger than that caused by the Moon alone.  These spring tides happen around New and Full Moon.

Jeff Mangum

Posted in Celestial Events, Moon, Physics, Sun | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Do We Observe the Sunrise Six Minutes After it Actually Occurs?

Question: We know sunlight takes about 8 min to reach earth. So we see sunrise 8 min later. Also we see sunrise 2 min earlier due to atmospheric refraction. Does it mean that we see sunrise after about 6 min of actual sunrise??  — Priyanshu

Answer: I think that you are right, in the sense that if the Sun suddenly turned-off at sunrise one day, we would not notice this until about 8 minutes (of light travel time) minus 2 minutes (due to atmospheric refraction allowing us to see the Sun a bit below the horizon), or 6 minutes.  The refraction bit amounts to about 34 arcminutes of bending of the light from the Sun, which is about 2 minutes of time.  Note, though, that this ignores the difference between the definition of sunrise, which refers to the point at which the upper limb of the Sun is at the horizon, and the position of the Sun, which is referenced to its center.  If you add the half-size of the Sun, or about 15 arcminutes, then sunrise occurs when its center is about 50 arcminutes below the horizon, which equates to about 3 minutes of time.

Jeff Mangum

Posted in Celestial Events, Physics, Sun | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A Question About a Potential Career in Astronomy and Physics

Question: Hello I am a 39 year old high school drop out who is in the process of getting his GED as we speak I have a passion and I always have had a passion for astronomy and physics and that is my goal. So I guess my question would be is it realistic for me to believe and achieve such a goal my sister in law is a professor at the University of Arizona she truly believes in me and pushes me and encourages me. Do other astronomers and physicists believe I can reach such a goal?  — Aldolfo

Answer: I have encountered scientists that have overcome obstacles such as the ones you describe before, so your goals are achievable.  To really get a better understanding of what is involved in pursuing a career in astronomy or physics you should look over the posts in my careers in astronomy section of this blog.  Good luck!

Jeff Mangum

Tagged Leave a comment

Do the Stars Seem to Move in the Night Sky Because of the Earth’s Rotation?

Question: Do stars seem to move in the night sky because of the Earth’s rotation?  — Selena

Answer: Exactly.  As the Earth rotates on its axis it makes it look like the stars are moving through the night sky.  Also, as the Earth orbits the Sun it changes the stars that we see at any given time of the night.

Jeff Mangum

Posted in Physics, Stars | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

How Old is the Light from the Stars that we see in the Night Sky?

Question: One of the questions that always has remained unanswered to me is the following.  When we see the stars on naked eyes or by telescopes, those are obviously many light years away from us, but do we see them live or is it the light from several years back?  — Sami

Answer: In fact, the answer is in that remarkably convenient distance unit that you referred to above: “light year”.  A light year is the distance that light can travel in one year.  So, if a star is one light year away, the light that it emits takes one year to get to us.  For that same star that is one light year away, if it suddenly started to glow brighter one day, we would actually see that brightening until one year later.

Jeff Mangum

Posted in Physics, Stars | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Why Are Ocean Tides on Earth Larger During a Full Moon?

Question: If I am correct in assuming that the moon’s apparent waxing and waning are merely the effects of the amount of shadow it is in, and it is always the same size, why are the effects of a full moon supposedly greater. i.e. larger tides. — Rod

Answer: Both the Moon and the Sun pull on the Earth and its oceans, affecting the amount of water in any given part of the ocean, creating what we call tides.  The Moon has the biggest effect on our tides.  When the phase of the Moon is either full or new, the Sun, Earth, and Moon lie approximately along a line.  When the Earth, Sun, and Moon are aligned in this way the affect of the Sun’s gravity on the Earth’s oceans adds to the affect of the Moon on our tides, making them more extreme.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has a nice description of the influence of the Moon and Sun on tides that you might want to check out for further information.

Jeff Mangum

Posted in Moon, Physics, Sun | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Is There a Place Where One Can See Daily Radio Images of the Sun?

Question: Is there a place that posts daily images of the Sun in a radio frequency, perhaps 21 cm, something like SOHO does for shorter wavelengths?  — Donna

Answer: Unfortunately, I am not aware of a source for regular radio frequency imaging of the Sun.  There is, though, a source for information on radio spectra, designed to monitor solar burst activity, from the Green Bank Solar Radio Burst Spectrometer.  Unfortunately, that system is currently off-line for repair.

Jeff Mangum

Posted in Physics, Radio Astronomy, Sun, Telescopes | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

How Can One Tell What Telescope Made an Image of a Deep Space Object?

Question: When looking at an image of a deep space object,  how can you tell what type of telescope was used to take the photo?  — Jeni

Answer: Unless the caption or other description of the image lists the telescope used to make the image, it is often hard to tell which telescope was used to make an image of an astronomical object.  Fortunately, at least in my experience, the origin of an astronomical image is almost always listed with the information associated with the image.

Jeff Mangum

Posted in Celestial Events, Telescopes | Tagged , | Leave a comment