Week 2 Recap

After the first week, I had begun to get into the flow of things. Since Brendan was gone for the first three days of week 2, Andrei and I were the only ones working on the project. Last week I focused on learning the different methods that astronomers use to detect exoplanets. This week I focused my attention on the telescopes that the astronomers use in order to detect exoplanets. Since there are lots of telescopes I needed to make my search more specific, so I decided to focus on the biggest ground based telescopes on earth currently in use. I did some research and found out that the biggest ground based telescope is the the Gran Telescopio Canarias followed by the Keck I and II, but I realized that I needed to know what the difference between ground based and space based telescopes is.

Space based telescopes are better than ground based telescopes because ground based telescopes are affected from image blurring. All images observed with ground based telescopes are affected by the image blurring that occurs as the light travels the last tiny fraction of its journey from the galaxies through the atmosphere of the Earth. The properties of the atmosphere cause photons to randomly and slightly change their direction, making the images appear fuzzy. Many might be wondering why astronomers continue to make ground based telescopes rather then just have more space based telescopes. The main reason is the cost difference: space based telescopes are extremely expensive compared to ground based telescopes. Also in the near future, ground based telescopes should be more advanced and capable of taking good images compared with those of space based telescopes images. Week 3 recap should dive into the differences between the two types of telescopes and their respective advantages and disadvantages, including examples with pictures.

Week 2 came to an end like the week before with our Friday meeting where we discussed some of the latest news in the science world. One cool news piece was that NASA is crowdsourcing people from the general public to find planet 9. After we discussed the news we dived into some interesting articles that some members wanted to share with the rest of us. Next week’s meeting should be really interesting because NASA had a big announcement planned for February 22nd and I can’t wait to discuss it. Brendan joined me and Andrei for the last two days of the week and on Friday the three of us had a check-up with our adviser where we could ask her questions and she’d see how well we were doing. I’m happy to say that it went well.

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