Titan’s Peaks

Mountains have always been a source of fascination for me. I climbed my first 14er, Mt. Yale (Elevation 14,199 ft.), when I was in middle school. Hopefully one day I can return to Colorado to climb more as well as many other mountains in this world. One of my favorite mountains is Mount Amiata in Tuscany and our property there overlooks the mountain as you can see in this picture I took below.

Mount Amiata, 12.28.2015, 5:19 pm Copyright Ned Bowen, 2015

Anyways, when I found out there are mountains on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, I was intrigued. When I found out they are ice mountains, I wanted to know all about them. The highest peak is found within the mountain ridges known as the Mithrim Montes, named after the mountain range in Middle Earth in The Lord of the Rings. The peak is 10,948 feet, which rivals some of the mountains on Earth. You can see them below:


Source: Gizmodo


It’s interesting because I often never think about other planets having geological features like we do here on Earth. The only pictures we really see are from space and just show a circular planet with some markings of geological activity but you get no understanding of the scale of these mountain ranges. It just goes to show how most planets and moons have major elevation changes like Earth that allow us to study their surfaces by comparing them to ours as well as discovering the underlying geological activity of the planet/moon. The universe is awesome.

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Why do we have tides?

Today I want to talk about tides! Above is this video of Clovelly, England and the drastic tide that they experience day in and day out, especially when it is spring tide, meaning the moon and sun’s tidal forces line up to create even more drastic tidal forces. What is amazing about that video is how the entire harbor empties during Spring tide and it’s actually completely a result of the sun and moon, objects that are thousands of kilometers away from us! Now what is actually causing these tides? Well it’s caused by the gravitational forces between Earth and the Sun and Moon. Essentially the gravitational force is different across the earth as the side closest to the moon and/or sun has a stronger attraction compared to the far side. Therefore, the difference between the attraction on opposite sides of the earth create what is known as a tidal force. This tidal force is essentially a stretching force that pulls the earth in the direction of the moon or sun. This is illustrated in the image below.




We witness this tidal force most in the oceans because liquid is most easily affected by gravitational forces but the land moves as well, only a couple centimeters during spring tide, but still it moves! The entire sphere of the early is being stretched towards the moon or sun. Now, because of the distance to the moon, it has about double the effect on tidal forces the sun has but when they work in combination, which is known as spring tide, the force is strong enough to empty the harbor at Clovelly at low tide and be almost overflowing at high tide. This drastic distance is created by gravitational forces from objects hundreds of thousands of kilometers away. That’s pretty cool if I do say so myself.