How To Calculate Jupiter’s Mass With A Telescope And The Galilean Moons

Have a telescope that you don’t know what to do with? If you are able to observe Jupiter you can also observe the largest four moons, known as the Galilean moons. By making a note of the relative position of each moon (Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto) you can very easily calculate the mass of Jupiter using Kepler’s 3rd law. The moons closest to Jupiter will have shorter orbital periods than those further away.

This short video shows you that by creating a plot of the moons movement over a number of weeks you can get enough information to measure the mass of the Solar System’s largest planet.

Fantastic Worlds and Where to Find Them by Phil Sutton: Lincoln Maths & Physics Week 2021

As part of British Science Week the School of Mathematics and Physics ran a series of public lectures relating to the research done within the school. Phil Sutton gave a talk that introduces how we discover planets orbiting other stars, known as exoplanets. It then finished by taking a brief look at some of the more unusual planets and systems found to date.

The recorded lecture can be found below.

Don Kurtz – Visiting Professor of Astrophysics

Maths & Physics News

Don Kurtz has been appointed a Visiting Professor of Astrophysics in our school till August 2023.

Donwas born in San Diego, California, to an American father and Canadian mother. He obtained a BA in astronomy from San Diego State University in 1970, and his PhD from the University of Texas at Austin in 1976. He was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship for one year at the University of Cape Town (UCT) starting in February 1977. That one year stretched to 24 years, by which time he was a Professor of Astronomy and Life Fellow of UCT. After a short spell at the Observatoire Midi-Pyrénées in Toulouse, France, in 2000, Don moved to the UK, where he was Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), UK, from 2001 until 2020; he is now Emeritus Professor at UCLan. Don was appointed Extraordinary Professor at North-West University (NWU) from 2020…

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Dr Phil Sutton Gives Seminar at Jeremiah Horrocks Institute

On 21st October Dr Phil Sutton gave a seminar at the Jeremiah Horrocks Institute at Uclan about his work with planetary rings, exoplanets and exomoons.

Image credit: NASA / JPL


The Importance of Planetary Rings as Astrophysical Laboratories


The Solar System hosts one of the best natural laboratories for the study of astrophysical processes. Saturn’s rings are close enough that we have been able to study them in great detail with the use of the in-situ spacecraft, Cassini, for over a decade. In this talk, with the use of Saturn’s rings, we will cover the key physics of planetary rings, their interactions with nearby moons and how they can be used to strengthen our planet formation theories. The talk will finish by applying what we have learnt from Saturn’s rings to some recently discovered rings orbiting exoplanets (exorings), and how we can discover unseen exomoons by the signatures they leave within the rings.

Virtual Talk at Cleethorpes and District Astronomical Society

Dr Phil Sutton

On 7th October I gave my first virtual talk over zoom Cleethorpes & District Astronomical Society I talked about some of the personal favourite discoveries made by the Cassini spacecraft during it 13 year mission orbiting Saturn. We looked at some of the most unusual finds like the large hexagon structure at the north pole and disappearing land in lakes on Saturn’s largest moon Titan.

Below:An image taken by the Cassini spacecraft of the large Hexagon structure at Saturn’s north pole. Image credit: NASA / JPL.

Below:Close up image of one of lakes on Titan. The images on the left show large areas of land apparently disappearing over a short period of time. Image credit: NASA / JPL.

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University of Lincoln’s First Radio Telescope

Over the summer of 2020 the School of Mathematics and Physics at the University of Lincoln took delivery of its first radio telescope. The aim is to have it installed and ready to use for the 2020/2021 academic year. This allows the School to continue to provide real experiments that can be conducted remotely for our physics students.

The radio telescope is a Spider 300A and has a 3m aperture which is designed to make observations around a frequency of 1420 MHz, the 21cm emission line of neutral hydrogen.


Benefits of Radio Astronomy

Two of the key benefits of having a radio telescope is the ability to make measurements remotely and that observations can be made during the day, even if it is cloudy. The longer wavelength of radio waves means that they are not as affected by clouds, atmospheric turbulence and the Sun as waves in the visible part of the spectrum are. This means radio telescopes generally operate at their diffraction limit.

What Can We observe With a Radio Telescope?

By observing the 21cm neutral hydrogen line we are able to:

  • Observe the hydrogen content in the sky and of nearby galaxies.
  • Variability of radio loud objects, like quasars which are distant galaxies with active supermassive black holes.
  • Changes in the Solar output in the radio part of the spectrum that relates to sunspots and Solar activity.
  • Rotation curve of the Milkyway by using the Doppler shift in the 21cm emission line. Rotation curves of galaxies was one hints at the existence of dark matter due to their unexpected high rotation velocities.


Above: A map of the 21cm emission in the sky. The brightest horizontal band that can be seen is due to hydrogen in our own milky.

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