Edexcel GCSE Astronomy

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What makes Earth different from all the other planets?
Atmosphere of mainly oxygen and nitrogen, presence of liquid water, life
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What is the diameter of Earth?
13,000km
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How many degrees is the Earth titled to the ecliptic plane?
66.5 degrees
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Who proved the Earth is round?
Eratosthenes
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How does the atmosphere make observations difficult?
It scatters light making it impossible to observe in the day; It refracts light causing the clarity of the image to drop; It absorbs most of the electromagnetic spectrum
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What are the Van Allen Belts?
Two belts of high-energy particles between 600 and 65000km above the Earth's surface. Poses a radiation risk to astronauts
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What is the distance between the Earth and the Moon?
380,000km
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What are the darker patches on the Moon's surface called?
Seas
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How many people have explored the Moon to date?
12
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Why did America want to send people to the Moon?
The collection and analysis of lunar soil; Winning the "Space Race" against the U.S.S.R
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What are the hypothesises on how the Moon formed?
Condensation Hypothesis; Capture Hypothesis; Fission Hypothesis; Giant Impact Hypothesis
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Describe the Giant Impact Hypothesis
In the early Solar System, the young Earth was hit by a Mars-sized object called Theia. The moon formed from the debris created by the collision
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What is an Astronomical Unit (AU)?
The distance from the Earth to the Sun (150,000,000km)
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What is the surface temperature of the Sun?
5800K
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How does the Sun (and other stars) make their energy?
Nuclear fusion of hydrogen nuclei into helium nuclei, during this fusion a small amount of matter is converted into energy
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How can you safely observe the Sun?
Using a H-alpha/Mylar filter; Using indirect projection e.g. a pinhole camera
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What are sunspots?
Dark spots on the Sun's surface. They are cooler than the rest of the Sun's surface (3000-4500K)
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How long is the sunspot cycle?
11 years
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What do scientists think cause sunspots?
Differences in rotational period in different parts of the Sun cause the magnetic field to tangle, slowing convection currents which bring heat to the surface of the Sun
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How do we know the Sun doesn't rotate as a solid body?
Observing how sunspots move across the Sun at different latitudes.
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What is the solar wind?
A stream of charged particles flowing outwards from the Sun
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How long does a lunar month last?
29.5 days
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What occurs when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun?
Solar eclispe
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What happens when the Earth passes between the Moon and the Sun?
Lunar eclipse
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How long is a sidereal day?
23 hours and 56 minutes
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Describe aurorae
Bright streaks of light in the sky caused by the solar wind interacting with the Earth's atmosphere.
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Name the planets in our Solar System
Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune
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Name the types of objects found within our solar system
Star, Planets, Asteroids, Satellites (Moons), Comets, Centaurs
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What is a Trans-Neptunian Object?
An object with an orbit beyond that of Neptune
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What classifies a planet?
In orbit around the Sun; large enough to be spherical; Has cleared its orbit of other objects.
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Which planets have ring systems?
The gas giants
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What is the name of the plane of the Earth's orbit?
The ecliptic
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What is the name of the area of the sky the planets are found in?
The zodiacal band
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When should you observe inferior planets?
At greatest eastern elongation or greatest western elongation
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What event can happen if an inferior planet is at inferior conjunction?
A transit
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When should you observe superior planets?
When they are at opposition
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What are comets made of?
Ice and rock
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Why do comets have tails?
When close to the Sun, higher temperature causes gas around the comet to become ionised by the solar wind and emit light. Dust particles can also reflect sunlight.
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What are meteoroids?
Small lumps of rock and iron, sizes range from micrometers to meters.
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What are meteors and meteorites?
A meteor is a meteoroid that has entered the Earth's atmosphere. A meteorite is a meteor part that managed to hit the ground
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What is a fireball?
A meteor with apparent magnitude of -3 or lower
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What causes meteor showers?
The Earth passing through a meteoroid stream (Several meteoroids that originate from a comet tail)
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Where do meteors appear to come from in a meteor shower?
The radiant
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Define NEO and PHO
A NEO (Near-Earth Object) is an object which may come to less than 0.3AU from the Earth. A PHO (Potentially Hazardous Object) has an orbit which brings it to less than 0.05AU from the Earth.
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Who was the first to suggest a heliocentric model of the Universe?
Nicolaus Copernicus
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What are Kepler's laws of planetary motion?
1: Planets have elliptical orbits, the Sun is at one focus of the ellipse.
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What are Kepler's laws of planetary motion?
1: Planets have elliptical orbits, the Sun is at one focus of the ellipse. 2: An imaginary line from a planet to the Sun sweeps out equal areas in equal amounts of time. 3: T^2 = r^3
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What did Galileo Galilei discover?
Craters and mountains on the Moon, phases of Venus, Galilean moons of Jupiter.
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Who was the first to find an explanation for planetary orbits?
Isaac Newton, with his law of gravitation
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Who discovered the remaining planets?
Uranus was discovered by William Herscel in 1781. Neptune was found in 1846 by Johann Galle and Heinrich D'Arrest after wobbles in Uranus' orbit were noticed.
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Who discovered Ceres and Pluto?
Ceres was discovered by Giuseppe Piazza in 1801. Pluto was discovered by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930.
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Name methods of finding exoplanets
Astrometry, or looking for wobbles in a star caused by the grvaity of a planet; Transit method, or looking for a regular drop in brightness of a Star; Radial velocity, or using redshift to see if the star wobbles due to a planet's gravity
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What are the basic requirements for life?
Carbon and liquid water
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What is the Drake Equation?
A calculation which attempts to calculate how many alien civilisations we will be able to communicate with.
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Card 2

Front

What is the diameter of Earth?

Back

13,000km

Card 3

Front

How many degrees is the Earth titled to the ecliptic plane?

Back

Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4

Front

Who proved the Earth is round?

Back

Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5

Front

How does the atmosphere make observations difficult?

Back

Preview of the front of card 5
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