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Earth Sun Solar System Milky Way Galaxy Local Group Virgo Supercluster The Sun is an ordinary, middle-aged star, more massive and luminous than some stars but less massive and luminous than others. The Sun is extraordinary only because of its importance to us within our own Solar System. Our Solar System consists of eight classical planets—Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. It also contains many smaller bodies, such as dwarf planets, asteroids, and comets. ) Under this new defi nition, Pluto, known to all of us as the “ninth planet” since its discovery in 1930, was unceremoniously stripped of its planet status and demoted to dwarf planet.

7 The Tevatron high-energy particle collider at Fermilab provides clues about the physical environment during the birth of the universe. Laboratory astrophysics, in which astronomers model important physical processes under controlled conditions, has become an important part of astronomy. 3 Science Is a Way of Viewing the World Given the visible importance of technology in our lives, you might be tempted to say that science is technology. It is true that science forms the basis of technology through a mutually supportive relationship in which each enables advances in the other.

And we’ll present some of the tools that you will need to take along as you look at the wonders of the universe through the eyes of a scientist. In this chapter’s overview of what is to come, we will find that • The universe is vast beyond all human experience, yet it is governed by the same physical laws that shape our daily lives. • We are a product of the universe; the very atoms of which we are made were formed in stars that died long before the Sun and Earth were formed. • There is nothing special about our place in the universe; it is indistinguishable from any other place.

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