Unit 6: The Family of the Sun

The New Solar System - IAU2006 - Credit: IAU/M. Kornmesser
The "New" Solar System, following the 2006 IAU Meeting

We now turn our attention to the Solar System. We will start with a general overview of the nature and origins of the Solar System, and then proceed outwards from Mercury into the distant reaches of the Solar System.

While a lot of factual material will be covered, underlying it is a consideration of the detailed comparisons between the different constituents of the Solar System, and how these can teach us about the past, and futures of the planets. We will also ask how the Solar System might have formed, seeking clues in its current state. We will see that far from a vast celestial clockwork, the Solar System is a dynamic and evolving place.

Our view of the Solar System is constantly changing, as new discoveries and critical reconsideration of older ideas inform our perspective. This summer we saw a contentious debate within the astronomical community redefining the place of some familiar worlds, reassigning Pluto to a new class of Dwarf Planets. This demands critical examination, and we will take this "new" solar system perspective as the working basis of this section of the class to see how this new view has been arrived at, and some aspects of the on-going debate as an illustration of how science works.

Note: Lecture notes will be come available weekly during this unit.

The Family of the Sun (Nov 5)

The Origin of the Solar System (Nov 6)

The Terrestrial Planets

Battered Mercury (Nov 7)

Venus Unveiled (Nov 8)

The Deserts of Mars (Nov 9)

Veteran's Day Holiday: Nov 12 - No Classes

Terrestrial Planets in Comparison (Nov 13)
Homework #4 Due

The Jovian Planets

The Gas Giants: Jupiter & Saturn (Nov 14)

The Ice Giants: Uranus & Neptune (Nov 15)

Quiz 4: Friday Nov 16, in class [Study Guide]

Moons and Rings

The Moons of Jupiter (Nov 19)

The Saturn System (Nov 20)

Planetary Rings (Nov 21)

Thanksgiving Holiday: Nov 22 & 23 - No Classes

Dwarf Planets & Small Solar System Bodies

Asteroids & Meteoroids (Nov 26)

Icy Worlds of the Outer Solar System (Nov 27)

Comets (Nov 28)

Worlds Beyond the Sun

Exoplanets: Planets Around Other Stars [Nov 29]

Are We Alone? - Life in the Universe [Nov 30]

Lecture Podcasts Lecture Audio Podcasts

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Updated: 2007 November 28
Copyright Richard W. Pogge, All Rights Reserved.