March 21 @ 1:00 pm - 3:30 pm
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The Worlds Next Door: A Grand Tour of Our Solar System
In recent years, so many planets have been discovered outside our solar system that the worlds close to home seem overlooked, if not taken for granted. But despite the attention further out, even the planets closest to us have a wealth of surprises, and each of them is fascinating and mysterious in its own right. In this Research for Writers seminar, we will look past the familiar names–Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn–to see each planet as a unique and often dynamic body, with a complex history and new discoveries yet to be made. We will consider the ancient ocean of Mars, and how it vanished, and why that caused Martian plate tectonics to grind to a halt. We will explore the dozens of moons circling Jupiter in a miniature solar system; the famous rings of Saturn and its hexagonal polar clouds; the diamond icebergs of sideways Uranus; and the extreme storms of Neptune’s ultracold atmosphere. We will consider whether Pluto really should be cast out from the other planets, and what the New Horizons mission learned on its close flyby. And we will meet recently discovered members of the outer solar system–troublesome Eris, glacial Sedna, enigmatic Quaoar and many more–and learn what they can tell us about the deep origins of our solar system, and what future we may have among them.
Please note: This class is an online class. To participate, students must have a stable internet connection with a computer or device with a webcam and microphone.