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Stephanie Towle of Dover, NH resident is a professional astronomer who writes astronomical articles in between studying the stars.
Towle is dedicated to unraveling the cosmic order of the universe. She lives near Dover where she works as a freelancer for a variety of astronomy journals and websites. She provides astronomical tours at nearby museums to children and their parents. She is an active member of the New Hampshire Astronomical Society.
When Stephanie is not working, she is likely still stargazing at night. She is a voracious reader, particularly of mythology, and enjoys long nature hikes.
Towle is compelled to searching and filling in the gaps of the universe. She believes there are endless possibilities for stargazers to become astronomers, as she believes understanding the laws of the universe and what all exists within it is incredibly satisfying, despite the obvious challenges. She also believes it is a humbling experience and well worth the strenuous research and studies.
She often explains the basics of cosmetic scaling, as the universe is massive enough that real comprehension is impossible in imagining its size. Astronomers utilize a hierarchy of structures to carry on conversations about the cosmos – from smallest to largest – including gas and dust, stars, solar systems, galaxies and much more. She enjoys sharing this information with people, watching their reactions as she explains the make-up of galaxies and galactic clusters. She is capable of giving a detailed account of galactic observation, fostering a love for science and the night sky among her family and friends. In the hierarchical terms of universal organization, very little is larger than a galaxy.
Stephanie Towle was born and raised near Las Vegas, NV. She grew up in the desert under the vast stretch of the clear night sky and full stars. Her love for the desert sky stayed with her, even as she studied and lived near the city. She was always curious of what was out beyond the sky, a curiosity that manifested into a career she would soon pursue after high school.
Studying the stars
Towle was able to attend the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, she had to save up her money working in retail. Her dream to pursue a college career finally came true at the age of 20, and she quickly enrolled to study physics and astronomy, acquiring a 3.9 GPA at graduation. She received a bachelor’s degree in Astronomy and was ready to embark on a journey to conquer the starts.
Temporary hardships with a silver lining
Stephanie was temporarily put on hold when she was not accepted for a position at NASA to pursue her dream career. Observatories near her hometown were also not hiring. She pursued an astronomy teaching job but was unsuccessful, as there weren’t any jobs in the subject. The astronomical museum didn’t need help either, putting an ellipsis on her future as an astronomer.
However, she didn’t let the current job market steal her drive. Stephanie Towle of Dover, NH started an online astronomy blog that became wildly successful, allowing her to creatively pursue an outlet for all of the topics she was fascinated in. This led to her writing freelance articles for online science magazines. Soon, an astronomy museum in New Hampshire found her work and invited her to further her interests in New England.
The hierarchy of astronomy
Gas and dust: Starting from the smallest point of cosmic scaling, gas and dust are essentially loose matter of the universe. They are both collections of small substances that haven’t formed into anything solid. In other words, they are loose atoms and molecules floating through space. They are typically recognized as clouds, varying in shape and size. Massive collections of loose gas and dust are called nebulae.
Planets: Planets are considered enormous, spherical collections of accreted matter. When loose matter is compacted, it forms heavier elements. The elements are then formed into thicker celestial bodies such as asteroids, comets, moons and planets. Planets are so large, their own gravity makes them round. Planets are found in two major categories: terrestrial and gas giant. Terrestrial planets are tinier, rockier planets made up of mostly solid matter. Gas giants are larger planets with smaller, solid cores and extremely thick atmospheres of gas.
Stars: Towle describes stars as spherical accretions of matter more massive than gas giant planets. In stars, so much matter has condensed to set off nuclear fusion in the core. This fusion generates light gases, transforming the gases into heavier elements, releasing massive amounts of energy in the process.
Solar systems: Solar systems is the collective term for a star and all bodies orbiting it. These bodies include planets, moons, asteroids and so forth. All are enclosed by the star’s gravity, rotating it indefinitely.
Star clusters: Star clusters are clusters of stars closely grounds near one another. These stars rotate one another’s gravity, usually within the nebula that created them. Multiple solar systems are grouped together as cosmic neighbors.
Galaxies: These are collections of stars, star clusters, nebulae and other cosmic bodies orbiting the same core. Galaxies have a center, called a bulge of stars, along with black holes that create deep gravity wells. These wells are like a great abyss, trapping billions of stars and clusters within their orbits. Between these clusters and nebulae is empty space.
Galactic clusters: Galaxies group into galactic clusters, forming enormous congregations of galaxies that all orbit the same center of mass. Hot clouds of gas accompanies empty space between the stretches of galaxies.
Walls: Walls are currently considered the largest subcategory of the universe. They are collections of galactic clusters grouped together in long sheets or strings. They are technically galactic cluster-clusters. The space between the walls is named “void” because it is unavailable for observation to astronomers with even the best technology. Theories surround this space, suggesting voids are actually made up of massive gas clouds and potentially radiated, undetected galaxies.
The universe: The universe is everything together: All matter, space, time and everything else that exists. Modern science cannot tangibly assess anything possibly larger than the universe itself. However, metaphysical theories state that more may exist beyond the universe as “we know it.” Here there is no evidence, merely speculation of parallel universes clustered together.
The science of light
Stephanie Towle is well-versed on light and the electromagnetic spectrum, including the various forms of electromagnetic wave. According to Stephanie Towle, Dover, NH, light encompasses more than simply what illuminates the world around us.
How it works: Visible light is created in waves identified as electromagnetic waves. These waves are produced by disturbances in the electric and magnetic fields of surrounding space. The two waves take the form of two defining properties: crests and troughs. Crests are considered the highest points of electromagnetic waves. Troughs are considered the lowest point of electromagnetic waves. The length of the wave is measured by the distance between one crest or trough to the next. This measurement is called a wavelength. An electromagnetic wave’s wavelength determines the kind of wave it is on the electromagnetic spectrum.
Electromagnetic spectrum: This is a continuum of electromagnetic wavelengths theoretically measuring from zero to infinity. A wave’s position on the spectrum determines the type of wave that it is. This notion provides scientists with an overall idea of the wave’s qualities. These include energy, its penetrative power and its effects on matter that it passes through. Stephanie enjoys educating people on the major types of electromagnet waves, including radio waves, microwaves, infrared waves, visible light waves, ultraviolet waves, x-ray waves and gamma waves.
Towle is dedicated to unraveling the night sky, learning more about the stars, galaxies and much more. She believes advances in modern science, metaphysical theories and technologies will only reveal more about the universe and its infinite nature. Just as she has mastered the science of light and the electromagnetic spectrum, she is confident the field of astronomy will continue to unveil the incredible vastness of the night sky, causing even trained astronomers to experience awe and humility.
Stephanie Towle of Dover, NH is especially fascinated by black holes and continues to learn about this confusing aspect of astronomy that seems to break all known physical laws of the universe.
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