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Daily Archives: 25-May-2016
Years ago, I read the book Parallax (Figure 1) and really enjoyed the tale of how 19th century astronomers measured the distance to the nearest stars. This measurement was critical to providing scientists some idea as to the scale of the universe.
The book Parallax describes how simple trigonometry, along with the introduction of large telescopes coupled to precision measurement gear, could be used to measure the angular parallax of a star as the Earth revolved around the Sun – a method called trigonometric or stellar parallax. During my recent perusing of the Wikipedia, I discovered that there was an alternative form of parallax measurement, called dynamical parallax, that allows one to estimate the distance to stars that are beyond the limits of trigonometric parallax. Continue reading