Wayne State College

Mars, our neighbor.

May 17, 2018

This summer, Mars will highlight the night sky as it will be closer and brighter than it has been in years.  In honor of this, this week we’ll continue talking about Mars.  Mars is named after the Roman god of war, presumably due to its red color and reds association with blood and violence.  Mars gets its red color from the large amount of iron oxide in the soil of Mars; we know iron oxide better as rust.  How exactly Mars’ soil was oxidized is still a bit of mystery that is connected to the speculation of ancient life on Mars, but that discussion will be saved for another week in the nea

Today we will conclude the astronomical tale of how the motion of Mars arguably sparked the origin of modern astronomy and science.  Last week we discussed how Nicolaus Copernicus presented a heliocentric, or Sun-centered, model of the universe with the all the planets, including Earth and Mars, orbiting the Sun.  But Copernicus’ model was not well received because it did not predict the positions of the planets much better than Ptolemy’s geocentric, or Earth-centered, model, and religious influences during the time period also wanted to maintain that the Earth was the center of the univer

This week let’s continue the astronomical tale of how the motion of Mars arguably sparked the origin of modern astronomy and science.  Last week we discussed how Claudius Ptolemy presented in about 150 AD a sophisticated mathematical model to explain why Mars and the other planets, moving around Earth, periodically moved retrograde relative to the background stars.  This Earth-centered model of the universe presented what was imagined to be a true representation of the motion of Mars and the rest of the planets for over a millennium.  As time went on, though, the model was not able to accu

Last week we discussed how Mars periodically exhibits retrograde motion, where the planet moves east to west relative to the background stars instead of its more typical west to east motion. Understanding why Mars undergoes this motion has been a challenge for hundreds of years. One of the first people to present a mathematical theory for the motions of the Sun, Moon, and planets was Claudius Ptolemy, who was thought to have lived from 85 – 165 AD.

The Motion of Mars

Apr 19, 2018

This coming summer in 2018, Mars will be spectacular in our night sky as it outshines all the stars and planets except Venus. It won’t be quite as bright as it was in 2003, but nearly! In honor of this, the next few discussions will be about various topics connected to Mars.

Cultural Continuum 4-13-18

Apr 13, 2018

The Box at LAMB presents Aura, Akron Community Theater does Oliver, the Northwest Iowa Symphony Youth Orchestra performs their spring concert and it's time to play ball at the Sanford Museum in Cherokee.

Today let’s conclude our visualization of the size and scale of space by trying to imagine our place in the Universe. To begin, let’s complete our “cosmic address” by noting that we our located in the Milky Way galaxy which is part of a local cluster of galaxies called, unimaginatively, “The Local Group”. There are about 54 galaxies in the Local Group, which also contains the Andromeda Galaxy, a galaxy that is much like our Milky Way galaxy and can be seen with the naked eye in the constellation of Andromeda.

Let’s continue trying to visualize the size and scale of our universe with a discussion about our Milky Way galaxy.  Galaxies are large collections of stars, on average about 100 billion stars, that come in different shapes and compositions.  There are elliptical galaxies (which have basic shapes of spheres or eggs), spiral and barred spiral galaxies (which have a basic shape of a disc), and peculiar galaxies (which have, as their name suggests, irregular shapes).  The galaxy our Sun is part of is a barred spiral galaxy, which means that as you look down on it from above, it sort of looks

This week, let’s continue discussing the size and scale of things in astronomy.  Our Solar System has one Sun, 8 planets, 5 dwarf planets, hundreds of natural satellites, thousands of comets, and hundreds of thousands of minor planets.  It has a basic shape of disc and the Sun at the center.  For this discussion, we are just going to focus on the Sun and the planets.

Cultural Continuum 3-23-18

Mar 23, 2018

It's spring and there is no lack of activities. Dr. Frank O'Neil talks about what happens when your brain gets tired, there is an award winning pianist performing at the Sioux City Art Center for Siouxland Federated Music Club, Stone State Park has its first walk of spring and it's Less Talk-More Bach at the National Music Museum.