Astronomy Club – September 2021

September 2, 2021

Posted by Lake Erie Nature and Science Center

That busy time of year…

As the summer season winds down, we all find ourselves getting ready for the school year or preparing for the cooler seasons to come. During this potentially hectic time, we are fortunate that it is also a great time to pause and look up at the evening skies after sunset. With Jupiter and Saturn in perfect viewing position, this is a chance to practice mindfulness and enjoy one of nature’s great and free spectacles.  – Bill

Night sky diagram - September 1, 2021
The sky as it appears on 9/1 at 10pm

News and Current Events

What’s going on in the world of space and astronomy

Evidence Of Rogue Planets Found

Diagram of gravitational micro-lensing

Astronomers, scanning data from the now defunct Kepler Space Telescope, have found evidence of 4 rogue planets. Rogue planets are planets floating free in space and not gravitationally bound to any star. Currently, these planets can only be detected by using gravitational micro-lensing. This technique detects the distortion of light from a distant star due to the effects of a gravitational field from an object in front of it.


Space and Media

The Midnight Sky

The Midnight Sky movie poster

This month we reviewed the movie “The Midnight Sky directed by George Clooney

A lone scientist in the Arctic races to contact a crew of astronauts returning home to a mysterious global catastrophe. While this is a decent sci-fi film, it focuses more on the human mind’s “inner-space” than outer space. I enjoyed it while I was watching it, but it may not stick with you for too long. In my opinion, not one to buy but absolutely worth a rent.

Wrap your brain around this…

Mind-blowing facts

We’ve all seen pictures or video of astronauts floating around on the International Space Station. Would it surprise you to know that gravity on the ISS is only 10% less than on Earth? Objects in the space station are essentially falling around the Earth.

Diagram of Newton's thought experiment on orbital motion

Objects in Earth orbit are traveling at such a high velocity that they are “falling” at the same rate as the curvature of the Earth. If you fired a cannon, the cannonball would curve downward and land some distance away.

If you fired it faster, it would land even further away. If you fired the cannonball at orbital velocity, or 17,500 mph, the ball would essentially fall around the Earth and be in orbit.

Mental Exercise

If you dug a hole all the way through the Earth from Bay Village, it would emerge about 1,000 miles west of Australia. If you then jumped into this hole, assuming there was no air present, it would take you about 42 minutes to reach the other side of the planet. You would accelerate to a velocity of 17,900 mph at the center of the Earth and gradually slow as you got the other side. You would eventually slow to a stop and be pulled back into the hole by gravity. This would continue as you were drawn back towards the center from either end of the hole. This back and force motion would continue essentially forever.

Become a member of the Astronomy Club!

Benefits include:

  • Monthly Meetings
  • Telescope Night Presentations
  • Movie Nights
  • Telescope Training and Loan Program

$60/year per family

Upcoming Events

Astronomy Club Meeting

Wednesday, September 15 @ 6:30 pm

Telescope Night

Saturday, September 18 @ 8:30 pm

Topic: Astronomy