Fun Astronomy Facts


If you want to measure the solar system, how would you do it? This is the simplest way to measure it in light-years. For those not familiar with the term, a light-year is the distance that light travels in a vacuum in one year. This is because the distances between stars is so huge that it is otherwise very difficult to imagine them. A light year is exactly 9,460,730,472,580.8 km. Put this in the real world distances, the Milky Way is about 100,000 light-years across.

The Earth is one of nine planets forming the Solar System, so called because the sun is the source of solar energy, is the center around which all the planets orbit. So far, scientists have not been able to establish or prove the existence of living organisms on other planets in the solar system. Often, the search for other organisms has been focused on looking at the weather conditions in the celestial body in question. Scientists assume that organisms on another planet would have similar conditions and life on Earth, such as oxygen, light and water to grow. This may or may not be true.

Other than the sun, and no other celestial body has a significant impact on the earth as the moon. It is well know that the moon affects the rise and fall of the sea tide. Such is the effect of the gravitational pull between the Earth and the moon. Jupiter is easily the biggest planet in our solar system. To put its size in perspective, Jupiter is more than 300 times the mass of Earth. Here is the interesting part; Jupiter has 63 moons orbiting it and yet it is not a planet in the solar system with the most moons. That honor belongs to the ringed-planet Saturn has 66 moons that date. Pluto, the farthest flung among the nine planets, has been the subject of heated debate on whether it meets in fact be considered a planet. Nowadays, it is classified as a dwarf planet. Its orbit around the sun is elliptical rather heavily. In fact, there are instances where Pluto is actually closer to the sun than Neptune, the planet that preceded it.

Now talking about size within the solar system, well, let’s just say that the sun is unmatched. Did you know that the sun covers more than 99% of the total mass of the entire solar system? Jupiter actually takes up much of the volume. The surface temperature of the sun standing at 5000 Kelvin (4727 degrees Celsius). With the temperature at its core to reach 15.6 million Kelvin (15.6 million Celsius), the sun is truly heavenly vision. It will be even better when you realize that the sun is classified as a type G star. Stars are classified into six categories that tie into the surface of the heat and light. The categories are M, K, G, F, A, B and O listed in increasing order of light and surface temperature. You can see the sun falls on the lower end of this classification. Class B and O are rare in the universe than most stars are Class M and emit less heat and light energy. That said, Sun is within 90 percentile by weight among all the stars. We have found the other stars that are larger than our sun, one is estimated to be approximately 60,000 times larger

The Solar System forms a tiny part of the Milky Way, a huge conglomeration of stars and planets .. What makes astronomy so exciting is that despite its size, the Milky Way is not the only galaxy in the universe. There are hundreds of billions of galaxies out there, probably more. The closest galaxy to the Milky Way is Andromeda. Now, brace yourself for a distance, it is 2.3 million light years away. One of the most exciting phenomena for astronomers is a black hole. It is a region of the universe where the concentration of mass is so much (no pun intended) that it generates gravity sucks in everything around it. All includes light. Remember to escape velocity for any object in the universe is the speed needed to escape the gravitational pull things. The escape velocity for the Earth is slightly more than 11 km per hour while the moon is 2.5 km per second. Well for a black hole, the escape velocity of the speed of light. That’s how strong the pull is.


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