Monday, July 20, 2015

The Stellar Planetarium

Today was quite interesting; it was like the weekend and class had blended into one. There was the academic feeling of learning, and we were technically in class for six and a half hours, but there wasn't as much tension in the air, probably because we went on a field trip to Adler Planetarium today.

For the first half of class, we mostly just worked on our research projects. Dom and I have decided to change our topic from exoplanets to: using the total energy output of the sun(luminosity) and other data about our big friend in the sky to produce an estimate of the neutrino output of the sun. Fun stuff. For your information, neutrinos are particles that come in three types, or flavors. One of our teachers, Mr. De Costner, was very supportive and gave us a lot of info and websites where we could find more info about our topic. I feel like this will be easier than our last topic; even though it sounds complicated, it's relatively straightforward, and seems more math-oriented.

This planetarium looks aged and stately from the outside, but looks pretty modern inside.
At lunch, I had planned to eat at the dining commons as usual, but for some reason there was a huge line stretching outside. After managing to get inside, there were more lines for each food station. Instead of waiting, I decided to get a pulled pork sandwich from a nearby food truck. Although it was more expensive, it definitely saved time and was a lot better tasting than the cafeteria food we eat every day.

A model Mars rover.
After eating lunch, our class got on a bus to go to the planetarium. I had visited the area yesterday, so I knew where we were going. Disappointingly enough, we had to look around in groups of five, and be accompanied by a chaperone, unlike yesterday. My group mainly toured the top level, which had models of the planets (to scale) and various exhibits about the planets. I wanted to look around more, but soon we had to hurry to the planetarium show.

This is a to-scale representation of the Sun. The other planets
are behind me.
The show was held in a 70-foot dome, and was actually very interesting. The speaker didn't talk like we didn't understand anything. It was mostly about nebulae, but I don't remember much about the last part, since I almost fell asleep. After the show, we only had a half an hour to look around some more, and then it was straight back to the dorm.

I'm glad that our class was able to go somewhere outside of the classroom together and still learn something. However, I wished that we had had more time...oh, well. I better start working on this project...

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