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Galileo and Kepler Contributions to The Solar System Questions

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MasteringAstronomy Assignment #2
Process of Science: Galileo and Kepler’s Contributions to the Model of the
Solar System
Part A
Galileo Galilei was the first scientist to perform experiments in order to test his ideas. He was also the first
astronomer to systematically observe the skies with a telescope. Galileo made four key observations that
challenged the widely accepted philosophical beliefs on which the geocentric model was based, thus
providing support for the heliocentric model. From the following list of observations, which are the key
observations made by Galileo that challenged widespread philosophical beliefs about the solar systems?
Jupiter has orbiting moons.
The Sun has sunspots and rotates on its axis.
Venus goes through a full set of phases.
The Moon has mountains, valleys, and craters.
Part B
Johannes Kepler used decades of Tycho Brahe's observational data to formulate an accurate description
of planetary motion. Kepler spent almost 30 years of his life trying to develop a simple description of
planetary motion based on a heliocentric model that fit Tycho's data. What conclusion did Kepler
eventually come to that revolutionized the heliocentric model of the solar system?
Kepler determined that the planetary orbits are elliptical.
Part C
Astronomers have made many observations since the days of Galileo and Kepler to confirm that the Sun
really is at the center of the solar system, and that the planets revolve around the Sun in elliptical orbits.
Which observation(s) could you make today that Galileo and Kepler could not have made to confirm that
the heliocentric model is correct?
Transit of an extrasolar planet
Doppler shifts in stellar spectra of nearby stars
Stellar parallax in nearby stars
Ranking Task: Kepler’s Second Law of Planetary Motion
Part A
Each of the four diagrams below represents the orbit of the same comet, but each one shows the comet
passing through a different segment of its orbit around the Sun. During each segment, a line drawn from
the Sun to the comet sweeps out a triangular-shaped, shaded area. Assume that all the shaded regions
have exactly the same area. Rank the segments of the comet’s orbit from left to right based on the length
of time it takes the comet to move from Point 1 to Point 2, from longest to shortest. If you think that two (or
more) of the diagrams should be ranked as equal, drag one on top of the other(s) to show this equality.

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