Devani: What's this got to do with education?
Liao: Everything – until we understand our place in the heavens, we cannot comprehend our place on earth.
ASTRONOMY 101 - A digital manipulation by T Newfields


A Mini-Lecture & Student Reaction

Teacher: Sirius, the brightest “star” when seen from Earth is actually a binary system. The distance between Sirius A and B is comparable to the distance between Sol and Uranus. . . .
Melissa: (yawning) So what?
Teacher: Alpha Centauri C, the nearest star to our sun, is too dim for the naked eye, yet merely 4.22 light years away. It’s a red dwarf (M5.5Ve) only one-tenth as massive as Sol.
Melissa: (shaking her head) Big deal!
Teacher: There are 10 stars within 10 light years of our sun. Within 100 light years, more than 500 type-G stars are known.
Melissa: Yeah, yeah, yeah . . . I'm bored ah factoids.
Teacher: This galaxy, 100,000 light years across and a thousand light years wide, has about 200-400 billion stars as well as a black hole eating at its center.
Melissa: I knew that, but right now there's a black hole in my stomach. What's for lunch?
Teacher: Only half-a-billionth of the energy released by the sun ever reaches the Earth.
Melissa: (grumbling) I think only a billionth of this lecture is reaching my brain.
Teacher: A billion years ago a day on Earth lasted about 18 hours and one lunar orbit was merely 20 days. As a consequence of friction and gravitational pull, our planet’s rotation is gradually slowing at the rate of 2.2 seconds per 100,000 years. The moon is also moving away from the Earth about 3 cm per year.
Melissa: Gosh! I hope I can move away from this lecture room faster than that!
Teacher: Some 19,000 meteorites (weighing 6 tons in total) hit the Earth each day. Most of them burn up in the atmosphere. Once every thousand years or so a meteorite large enough to destroy a city impacts Earth. Once ever 250,000 years or so one large enough to impact the global climate hits us.
Melissa: Couldn't one of them drop on this classroom? How is it that so many interesting facts can be presented in such a dull way?