For More Information: Solar System Dynamics, Carl D. Murray and Stanley F. Dermott, 2000
Discoveries about our solar system come principally from astronomy and cosmology, but math plays a role, too. The existence of the planet Neptune was predicted by mathematicians, based on Newton’s law of gravitation, before anyone even dreamt of an eighth planet. Recently, integral and differential equations, along with mathematical models, have dramatically increased the accuracy of estimates of the length of Saturn’s day. And applying probability and statistics to the chemical composition of simulations of growing planets early in the solar system’s history have bolstered the impact theory about the Moon’s origin.Earth’s orbit is almost completely determined by the Sun’s gravity, but our path through space is also affected by the pull of other planets and the Moon. Unfortunately, explicitly solving the equations associated with the gravities of many bodies is impossible. So researchers are using numerical approximations and nonlinear dynamics to see if the tiny effects of interacting planetary gravitational forces will accumulate and eventually alter the solar system’s stability. They’ve determined that there is a very small chance the effects could accrue and result in planetary collisions. No need to relocate just yet, though, as this could take billions of years.
For More Information: Solar System Dynamics, Carl D. Murray and Stanley F. Dermott, 2000
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Mathematics is everywhere. No matter where you look, you are bound to find pure math or an application of math. With the movie called "The Martian" in theatres now, it might be a good time to take a look at how mathematics is also used by NASA and the ESA, along with astronomers and astrophysicists around the world. Calculus Humor is proud to announce that in a partnership with The Cincinnati Observatory Center (www.cincinnatiobservatory.org) to posts in a series called, Mathematics In Space. But first things first, let us take a look at The Cincinnati Observatory Center... The Rich History of The Cincinnati Observatory CenterThe Cincinnati Observatory Center is the oldest public observatory in the United States, and one of the oldest in the world. The Cincinnati Observatory Center is known as ‘The Birthplace of American Astronomy.’ It houses one of the oldest working telescopes and was the first public observatory in the western hemisphere. Recently restored to its original beauty, the Observatory is a fully functioning 19th century observatory used daily by the public and amateur astronomers. The main telescopes are an 11inch Merz and Mahler refractor purchased in 1842 and a 16inch Alvan Clark and Sons refractor from 1904. The historic buildings are designated as a National Historic Landmark, and the grounds provide a serene, parklike setting while still being centrally located in the city of Cincinnati. The Cincinnati Observatory was founded by Ormsby M. Mitchel in 1842. It was the first professionally organized observatory in the USA. 4 Acres of land on Mt. Ida were set aside for the construction of the observatory. The corner stone was laid by former president John Quincy Adams, and the suburb of Mt. Ida was changed to Mt. Adams to commemorate the event. Just after construction had began, the country was in an economic depression. All of the funds set aside for construction were gone, Mitchel paid for the rest of construction out of his own pocket. Workers gave up their time and labor for exchange in shares of the astronomical society, which was going to run and maintain the observatory. When construction was complete in 1845, there still was very little money to keep the place running, so Mitchel took on the job of director without pay. The telescope arrived from Germany in January of 1845, and went into service on April 14 of that same year. By this time the observatory was receiving some financial aid from the Cincinnati college, but a few weeks before the observatory was opened to the public, the Cincinnati college burnt down. Again Mitchel had no source of income. Despite this, he continued to serve as director of the observatory for a few more years, but eventually he had to leave Cincinnati to find a source of income. The observatory lay dormant until 1868 when Cleveland Abbe was appointed as the new director. He wanted to move the observatory away from downtown because the heat generated by a growing city made observations useless. Eventually the observatory was moved to Mt. Lookout and remains there to this day to teach people about the wonders of space. Learn More About The Cincinnati Observatory Center

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