The principle of ‘parallax’ in section 2.3.1 is used in the determination of distances of very distant stars. The baseline AB is the line joining the Earth’s two locations six months apart in its orbit around the Sun. That is, the baseline is about the diameter of the Earth’s orbit ≈ 3 × 1011m. However, even the nearest stars are so distant that with such a long baseline, they show parallax only of the order of 1” (second) of arc or so. A parsec is a convenient unit of length on the astronomical scale. It is the distance of an object that will show a parallax of 1” (second) of arc from opposite ends of a baseline equal to the distance from the Earth to the Sun. How much is a parsec in terms of meters?
When the planet Jupiter is at a distance of 824.7 million kilometres from the Earth, its angular diameter is measured to be 35.72″ of arc. Calculate the diameter of Jupiter
Just as precise measurements are necessary in science, it is equally important to be able to make rough estimates of quantities using rudimentary ideas and common observations. Think of ways by which you can estimate the following (where an estimate is difficult to obtain, try to get an upper bound on the quantity):
the number of strands of hair on your head
The farthest objects in our Universe discovered by modern astronomers are so distant that light emitted by them takes billions of years to reach the Earth. These objects (known as quasars) have many puzzling features, which have not yet been satisfactorily explained. What is the distance in km of a quasar from which light takes 3.0 billion years to reach us?
Just as precise measurements are necessary in science, it is equally important to be able to make rough estimates of quantities using rudimentary ideas and common observations. Think of ways by which you can estimate the following (where an estimate is difficult to obtain, try to get an upper bound on the quantity):-
the number of air molecules in your classroom.
Explain this common observation clearly : If you look out of the window of a fast moving train, the nearby trees, houses etc. seem to move rapidly in a direction opposite to the train’s motion, but the distant objects (hill tops, the Moon, the stars etc.) seem to be stationary. (In fact, since you are aware that you are moving, these distant objects seem to move with you)