Please Note: This program has an updated time (originally 6:45-8:45 p.m. ET).
Being not too close and not too far from the sun helps make Earth habitable, but the composition of our atmosphere is a key ingredient. That’s because the combination and proportions of gases, specifically greenhouse gases, maintain a climate in which water—essential for life—can exist in its liquid form.
Earth’s climate has changed significantly over its 4.5-billion–year history. Natalie Burls, director of the Climate Dynamics Program at George Mason University, discusses the crucial role Earth’s atmosphere plays in determining its climate, how Earth’s climate has varied in the past, and how we are currently changing the composition of Earth's atmosphere and thus its climate.
The Grand Tour of the Solar System series treks to the Sun and the four inner terrestrial planets before traveling outward to the asteroid belt, four Jovian planets, and beyond. At each session, a professional astronomer explores a solar system body, presenting the latest research.
Following the talk and a question-and-answer period, Peter Plavchan, a professor of physics and astronomy at George Mason University, brings that night’s sky right into participants’ living rooms via remote control of the university observatory, weather permitting.
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