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Bruce BettsFebruary 18, 2014

Intro Astronomy Class 2: How We Explore Space

Easy Things to See in the Night Sky, and the Electromagnetic Spectrum

In my second class of my Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy class at CSUDH, I talk about some easy things to look for in the night sky, and provid an introduction to the electromagnetic spectrum, including spectroscopy, as a basis to understand data/images presented throughout the rest of the course.  The video is below.  For more information about the class, see my class page,

This lecture covers easy things to see in the night sky without a telescope, and the electromagnetic spectrum (from gamma rays to visible to radio waves) -- what it is, and how and why we use different wavelength regions to explore planets. We also talk about spectroscopy, the method used to determine the composition of distant surfaces and atmospheres by looking at details of the light coming from them. Also, how to tell natural grass from astro turf -- from space.  The class concludes with my guest Mat Kaplan, Media Producer for The Planetary Society. Mat and I record a What's Up segment for Planetary Radio. 

In the next class, I will talk about telescopes, the Moon, Mercury, and some important planetary surface processes like impact cratering.

Read more: spectroscopy, Planetary Society Video, explaining science

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Bruce Betts

Chief Scientist / LightSail Program Manager for The Planetary Society
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