Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Close encounters of the Mars kind

NASA Science News for August 21, 2007

Earth and Mars are rapidly converging. Relative speed: 22,000 mph. Contrary
to rumor, Mars is not about to swell to the size of a full Moon, but there
is something eerie and Martian to look for in the night sky next week.



I am so glad someone on one my homeschool e-lists sent the above item out because most people's grasp of astronomy is so poor or non-existent that they actually will believe that Mars can appear as large as our moon in our night sky.

And speaking of astronomy...Ds#1 (the 11 year old) is taking an Intro to Earth & Space Sciences class through the Indiana University High School Program, and the text is dismally outdated. For example, ds noted that the textbook stated a closed-system for the universe whereas he read in Scientific American that the latest hypothesis is an open-system universe (where there isn't enough matter to halt the expansion and the universe will not collapse back on itself to be reborn in another big bang). We are definitely leaning toward creating our own high school courses for him after this, or just toss him good, updated textbooks and let him learn on his own like he has been doing. I can't see paying that much money ($200+ for a one-credit class) for out-dated texts and assignments with no feedback. [Ds had asked a question on the coversheet of one of his assignments - which is where students are supposed to leave questions for instructors - and it was never answered. Luckily, he found the answer in one of my old astronomy books.] Note to Abby: this is a preview of the problems you'll be facing with Avery. ;> You'd better hope his teachers will take kindly to being corrected by him. LOL!

"To be conscious that you are ignorant is a great step to knowledge." ~ Benjamin Disraeli (1804 - 1881)