Quinci Chapple Mrs. Ryan Language A – 9H January 12, 2012 Finding the Milky Way I often gaze into the night sky only to find bright lights and strange shapes I don’t understand. Starting at a young age, I enjoyed waiting for shooting stars and searching for the famous Big Dipper consolation as many nights as I could. As I grew older, I learned more and more about the universe and all that it contains. Today, I am even more intrigued by, not just the universe, but our very own Milky Way galaxy.
I am amazed by its complicated systems and beautiful landscapes, but I still wanted to know how all of its magnificence was discovered. From receiving several astronomical filed guides and photographic collections from family over the years, I already knew some information about the Milky Way. I knew it received its name from the “milky” light it sheds and that it consists of millions of stars. By observing pictures, I could tell most research about the galaxy was done using telescopes with cameras.
I also concluded that the Sun is at the center of the galaxy, but that was just from my comprehension of the term “solar system”. In other words, I really did not know much about how the Milky Way was discovered, especially since telescopes and high quality technology has not been around forever. The area of interaction that I believe ties to my research is Human Ingenuity. Human Ingenuity focuses on the evolution of process and human creations. How it is important to research the developments of humans throughout history and how those creations affect life and society.
The processes made by astronomers to observe the Milky Way have affected human life tremendously, considering it’s where humans live. The steady research of the galaxy through time has led to even greater discoveries and information that humans never thought possible to obtain. I want to know the exact progression of methods and research in discovering the Milky Way. From where the first astronomers got their ideas and plans to take on such a puzzling challenge, to how those methods have led to all the facts we know about the galaxy today.
I want to learn about the instruments used to make these discoveries and the people behind them. I would like to be able to conduct a general timeline of the uncovering of the Milky Way. In addition, I find myself wondering why it is so important to study the Milky Way and other elements of outer space. To learn so much information, I need to ask myself questions based on the research topic. Because I want to know how the Milky Way was discovered, I ask the main question, what methods and tools were and are used to observe the Milky Way?
The Search Originally, I began my search with the topic astronomical discoveries in mind. I navigated to my school’s library website to use the databases available there shown to me by the librarian. I typed the words astronomy discoveries in the Gale Power Search database, scrolled down reading the various article titles, then clicked on Cosmic Discoveries: The Wonder of Astronomy. As I began to read over the article, I did not understand the information. I soon realized the article was a very short book review for a book I did not have.
I clicked back to my search results to find another article titled, 10 years ago in Astronomy. However, this too ended up being a book review. I left the Gale Power Search back to the library’s website to visit the database ProQuest where I searched astronomy discoveries once again. This time, I clicked an article titled Top 10 discoveries of the last 35 years, assuming it would be about discoveries in astronomy over the years. Starting to read the article, I came across a section that raved about the thousands of breakthroughs in astronomy in thirty-five years, the article only covering a ten.
This section helped me realize that my topic was too broad to make of, so I decided to narrow my search topic to the direct history of the Milky Way galaxy. Coming in with my narrowed search topic made things a lot simpler. I used the search engine Google to type in the keywords history of the Milky Way. Thousands of articles popped up, but I clicked on the page Wikipedia had made for the Milky Way. The article was helpful because it was organized into sections, one of them being history, which I immediately went to.
The history section of the article gave specific dates and names that contributed to my search. The article explained the first observations of the galaxy and told of the works of the first astronomers, yet the information given was limited. Since I turned my search to the history of the Milky Way, I began to take into consideration how I might transform this topic into a personal project. That thought mixed with the small pieces of information Wikipedia gave made me doubt my space inspired topics. Space was not turning out to be as interesting as I had thought. My next search kept me set on my topic.
Using Google, I searched how was the Milky Way discovered which brought up a great article. The article was set up like a timeline that was simple and easy to understand, especially with all the dates. Once I read and took notes on this article my Area of Interaction was obvious, Human Ingenuity. Now that I had my lens to focus through, researching and planning for my paper was getting much easier. My next few searches were all through Google; one that was really helpful was the search discovering the Milky Way where I found the widespread article The Milky Way Galaxy.
This article was the most helpful of all my sources because it provided many pages of clear, organized information fully concerning my topic. The article was more like a book, organized into numbered “chapters” discussing several different aspects of the Milky Way’s history and current status. The article had one specific section about the techniques used to observe the galaxy over the years. I marked countless notes in my journal that would greatly contribute to my research. The text noted radio mapping and the great history of telescopes.
That article lead me to my next search, telescope used to observe the Milky Way. I clicked on the first article titled, Telescope witnesses Milky Way star birth. The article was very useful because it went a little more into depth with the processes used to observe and map the galaxy. It told me about the people to first observe the Milky Way and how far research on the galaxy has come. The article was very current which was supportive to the information. The many articles about the telescopes lead me to my last search, invention of the Herschel telescope (one of the first telescopes used).
The article History of the Telescope- Telescope Tips gave a perfect, brief description of the history of the telescope. The article was a great way to wrap up my search with a little more background about the astronomers and their inventions to uncover more about the Milky Way. What I Discovered The information that I found through my research revealed ideas that I was not aware of and clarified facts that I thought I knew. The investigation answered the research question and provided details extending my thoughts and research topic.
Insight on the main ideas was provided by several sources developing thoughts on the structure and contents of the Milky Way, the techniques used to research the Milk Way, the instruments used to observe the galaxy, and the people who contributed to the galaxy’s record. Many of the sources I found described discoveries of the structure and materials within the Milky Way. I learned that in 1915, the galaxy was found to be made up of thousands of globular clusters, which are groupings of millions of stars. Also, around the same time of this discovery, the galaxy was proposed to be a disk shape with several arms extending out from the center.
Some of the arms called Sagittarius, Carina, Orion, and Perseus all extend from the center of the galaxy, the sun being in the Orion arm. All this information was later confirmed by the Spitzer Space Telescope. However, one source told that there are more stars in the galaxy than can be seen because molecular clouds of dust block the light from the stars and cut the view of the system. These dust clouds often contain RR Lyrae stars which are “used to locate the center of the galaxy because clusters can be seen at relatively great distances.
The stars are used to measure distance and Luminosity Relation to the Sun, which calculates the brightness of individual stars. “I found out later that the molecular dust helps in another way of research. As I continued to research, I discovered the method of radio mapping that has been used since the early 1960s. Radio mapping was an important discovery for the mapping of the Milky Way, “Astronomers had been trying the build such maps a topical wavelengths, but with the development of workable radio telescopes in the 1950s, observations were finally able to cut through the murk and create a useful map.
The Milky Way had been thought to be a spiral galaxy, and the radio map of the H-I (hydrogen cold) regions showed that it seemed to have three spiral arms”(Goebel) Radio signals are sent out from Earth into the galaxy, then machines measure the wavelengths of the radio signals “bouncing” back to Earth off the molecular clouds. This process has mapped physical features of the Milky Way through telescopes and computers. According to the article “Telescope witness’s Milky Way star birth” by Clara Moskowitz, radio mapping is not the first or only method used to find the Milky Way.
A 1700s astronomer named William Herschel was the first known to observe the Milky Way. Herschel created a space telescope inspired by the scientist Isaac Newton’s telescope sometime in the early 1700s. “Herschel’s infrared vision lets us sense the feeble heat from some of the coldest objects in the cosmos. ” (Moskowitz) Herschel’s telescope measured stars and celestial objects so those could be mapped as well, since there are so many within the galaxy. This article also described the modern tools used to observe space.
The Photo detector Array Camera and Spectrometer (PACS) and the Spectral and Photometric Imaging Receiver (SPIRE) can be sent out in space or remain in an observatory to work together to take five images at once. The celestial objects to be photographed are limitless, and include the arms and clusters of the Milky Way. Herschel began his research by “cutting” the sky into equal sections, then using his telescope to best count the number of stars in each section, then drew out a map of the galaxy setting the Sun in the center.
In 1920, an American astronomer, Kapteyn, created a modern version of Herschel’s famous map, but with an updated placement of the Sun which was proven to be slightly off center. So, I discovered that the telescope played a major role, probably the most important role, in discovering the Milky Way, “From Issac Newton’s first working telescope to Herschel’s large scale style, and the telescope has opened the eyes of aspiring astronomers for centuries into the extraordinary world that is our Milky Way Galaxy. ”(White).
The results I obtained through my search process have collectively answered all aspects of my research question. The question at hand was, what methods and tools were and are used to observe the Milky Way? I learned about the telescope and how it is the main instrument that has been used for centuries in astronomy research. I was also hoping to find out about the features of the Milky Way, which learning about the telescope lead me to find. I also learned about the method of radio mapping and how helpful its results have been.
The radio mapping found the RR Lyrae Stars which both have been impactful. I was introduced to some modern machines that are used today for observations. Also, going beyond the research question, I was educated about the people who made significant research concerning the galaxy. However, learning about the people connected me to the methods they used, such as Herschel’s mapping, which answered the sole inquiry of the question. Reflection During the writing of my I-Search paper I acquired many research skills while improving on my previous ones.
My research skills helped me solve the problems I faced during research, but also allowed me to find reliable and organized information. I answered my research question completely and connected my research to the Area of Interaction that I chose. If I was able to go through this process again, there are some things that I would do differently. In addition, my research leading to my personal projects does not seem promising. While researching, I believe I learned how to tell is a topic is too broad or too narrow to write a paper with that makes sense while still being simple and direct.
My topic started out being too broad to accurately cover over all the information regarding it, so I wanted to make it less generalized, but still in the same field as my original topic. I also learned that while taking notes it’s really important to take direct quotes from articles because they add a lot of authenticity and accuracy to the paper which makes for an all-around better paper. I believe I have always been good at taking notes which helped with my process journals. Also, connecting each process journal to the next makes it easy to write the “What I Discovered” section of the paper.
Summarizing the main ideas of an article is really important, not copying every word. Some problems I had during my research were repetitive information throughout articles and finding articles that were book reviews which didn’t contribute at all. Some articles were too short or poorly written with limited information provided. Another minor problem was a lot of the articles I used did not show the author or date of publication. One the other hand, a lot of the articles I found were organized and gave interesting information that I didn’t find in any other article, which is exactly what I was looking for.
Many of the articles I found provided names, dates, and photographs which help in understanding; I try my best to find sites that provide these features. It was very easy to find information that was clearly connected to my question and topic. The sites that I did find were reliable, if a site did not seem reliable, I did not use the information. My research resulted in a through and detailed answer to my research question, what methods and tools were and are used to observe the Milky Way? The methods used were explained to me and examples of instruments were given.
I completely understand my topic from doing this research. Also, I used my Area of Interaction, Human Ingenuity, to focus my search. The idea of using special methods to observe the world and designing tools, such as the telescope, to aid and strengthen human’s independent research. If I were to do the I-Search paper again, I would probably use an entirely new topic. Before starting the process journals I felt rushed to come up with a topic that was personal to me, able to produce a product (for the personal project), generally interesting, and had enough material behind it to write a paper on.
I would choose a topic that I had the equipment and experience to create a product with. I own a telescope with connected camera, but I feel that it is not the quality to capture the galaxy, if I were to use this topic for my personal project. However, if I were to do the paper over again with the same topic, I would definitely organize my “What I Discovered” section into a clearer format that included more information that I decided to leave out this time for concern of length.
I believe sometimes I write too much or include information that is irrelevant. Work Cited “Discovery of the Milky Way. ”Ircamera. Google. January 10, 2012. http://ircamera. as. arizona. edu. /NatSci102/NatSci102/lectures/milkyway. htm. Goebel, Greg. ”The Milky Way Galaxy. ”In the Public Domain. June 1st, 2010. Google. January 11th, 2012. http://vectorsite. net/tastgal_07. html. Moskowitz, Clara. ”Telescope witnesses Milky Way star birth. ”Space on MSNBC. October 2nd,
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