# 4 Astronomy Problems: ASSISTANCE NEEDED PLEASE

tony873004
Gold Member
Would it make more sense to use 1 AU - 0.24 AU for 0.76 AU, since the 1 AU is Earth / Sun distance and the 0.24 is comet / Sun distance. So if Earth were aligned for closest approach to the comet at the comet's solar perihelion it would be 0.76 AU away.

SpaceTiger
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
tony873004 said:
Would it make more sense to use 1 AU - 0.24 AU for 0.76 AU, since the 1 AU is Earth / Sun distance and the 0.24 is comet / Sun distance. So if Earth were aligned for closest approach to the comet at the comet's solar perihelion it would be 0.76 AU away.

Why would it be aligned for closest approach? That seems as arbitrary as any other choice.

tony873004
Gold Member
SpaceTiger said:
Why would it be aligned for closest approach? That seems as arbitrary as any other choice.
Just because at perihelon, the comet is 0.76 AU from Earth's orbit, :uhh:assuming:uhh: they're in the same plane. So using 0.76 AU seems a little less arbirtary to me than to use the Earth / Sun distance as the Earth / Comet distance. But you're right, any guess is just an arbitrary guess.

Chronos
Gold Member
Hmm, the simple answer looks pretty good. It was a pretty simple question to begin with. ST's "Good, this is right so far." is correct. It should give you:

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Is this math typical to astronomy or is it more complicated? I'm wondering because i'm considering astronomy as a future career.

SpaceTiger
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
RedScout said:
Is this math typical to astronomy or is it more complicated? I'm wondering because i'm considering astronomy as a future career.

I think this is typical of an intro level astronomy course in college (or high school). Graduate students would be expected to quickly do this sort of calculation in their head (or at least obtain an order of magnitude).

For an observational research paper, you'll be expected to do calculations roughly at the level of the ones I do here:

Even more mathematical sophistication would be expected of theorists.

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Thanks for the help and information. Would it be safe to say it is advanced algebra on an astronomy scale? I'm in 10th grade (in America), what classes would you reccomend to prepare for college? The school that I go to dosen't offer an introductory to Astronomy class. Although, it did teach about Astronomy in a physical science class I had last year but we didn't reach it.

SpaceTiger
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
RedScout said:
Thanks for the help and information. Would it be safe to say it is advanced algebra on an astronomy scale?

No, you definitely need calculus. Look at some of my later posts in the thread. From what I remember, the major I took in astronomy required the following undergrad math classes:

- Calc I and II
- Vector Calc
- Linear Algebra
- Differential Equations

If you want to do any general relativity, you'll need to learn tensor manipulation and basic differential geometry (sometimes done in the GR course itself). Hardcore theorists would also benefit from complex analysis and group theory.

By the time you graduate high school, you should, at the least, have taken algebra II and classical mechanics (intro physics). Preferably, you would have some exposure to calculus and electromagnetism as well.

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I'll need to work hard it seems.

I've been reading general astronomy books to try and get a good understanding of everything as a whole before I start learning more specific things. Hopefully it will come to good use in the future.