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SPST 200 – Introduction To Space Studies
Homework #1 – Due: Friday, February 5
Please try to make your answers concise and to the point. Just answer the question, don’t try to tell me
everything you know. Extraneous material may cost you points if it contains errors.
The exercise may be submitted by:
A) Using the link within Blackboard under the appropriate assignment
B) Late submissions will be penalized 3 points per day or portion of day. No submissions will be accepted after
the KEY has been posted on the class website.
Provide any calculated numerical answers to the correct number of significant figures.
1) [5 points] You are camping out in a dark location in Northern
Minnesota. The night is clear and the sky is full of stars. At one point in
the evening, you observe the Little Dipper in the orientation labeled
“Time 1” on the figure to the right. Sometime later that same night, you
observe that the Little Dipper has rotated to the orientation labeled
“Time 2”. You know that the North Pole star (Polaris) is the star at the
end of the dipper’s handle.
A) Approximately how much time has passed between “Time 1” and
“Time 2”?
B) Briefly describe how you determined your answer.
Time 2
Time 1
2) [5 points] Since books are so easy to print, how was it possible that the destruction of the Library of
Alexandria in 48 BC could have resulted in the loss of so many of the written works on
astronomy (and many other topics) by Greek scholars and scientists?
3) [3 points] Briefly discuss why an infrared image of the Geico Insurance Company’s Gekko would
appear relatively dark if it was imaged while sitting on your hand.
4) [5 points] Currently the mass of the Sun is decreasing at the rate of five million tons (5
billion kilograms, 5 x 109 kg) per second as that mass is converted to energy which escapes
into space in the form of light and essentially massless neutrinos. Assume that this rate is
maintained until the end of the main sequence lifetime 5.5 billion years in the future. Calculate the
percent decrease in the mass of the Sun during the next 5.5 billion years.
5) [3 points] Rearrange the following equations to isolate the indicated term (e.g. v = at to t = ? = v/a)
A) 𝑥 =
𝑎𝑡 2
to t = ?
B) 𝑭 =
to M = ?
C) M = V to  = ?
6) [4 points] If the speed of light is 186,000 miles per second, what is the speed of light in furlongs per
Following a Hohmann transfer orbit, what would be the flight time from the orbit of the Earth (a = 1 AU)
to the orbit of Venus(a=0.723 AU)?

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