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Do You Look Up in Amazement?

Here are a few of my short articles regarding space. Enjoy

By A B ForbesPublished 3 months ago 3 min read
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Do You Look Up in Amazement?
Photo by Benjamin Voros on Unsplash

British spelling

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Before the invention of telescopes in the early 1600s, we only knew about our own moon.

Disregarding the earth's moon, the first moons to be discovered were in orbit around the largest planet, Jupiter.

The largest moon in the solar system is Ganymede, which orbits Jupiter. It is larger than the smallest planet Mercury and the dwarf planet Pluto.

The up-to-date count of moons orbiting planets in the solar system is 281. The two closest moons to the sun, Mercury and Venus, have no moons.

As I said, asteroids can also have a moon; some have two moons. At this time, more than 150 asteroids are known to have moons.

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The Earths atmosphere

Including the Earth, almost all the other planets in the solar system have atmospheres.

By Miguel A Amutio on Unsplash

The closest planet to the sun is Mercury, which has very little gas above its surface, so it could be said that it has no atmosphere.

The definition of an atmosphere is a layer of gas or a mixture of gases that surrounds a planet or a moon.

A large celestial body retains its atmosphere through self-gravity, but the warmer the gases are, the easier they can escape into outer space.

Atmospheres have been detected on four of the solar system's moons. Saturn's moon, Titan, however, is the only moon with a substantial atmosphere.

The Earth's atmosphere is mostly made up of nitrogen and oxygen and, at any one time, can hold an estimated 12,900 cubic kilometres of water in the form of vapour.

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What is an astronomical unit?

We are dazzled by the sun's light and feel its incredible heat, but how far away is it?

By Norbert Braun on Unsplash

One astronomical unit is the distance between the sun and the earth.

To put that distance into perspective, light leaving the sun, travelling at almost 300,000 kilometres per second, takes just over 8 minutes to reach the earth.

An astronomical unit is roughly 150 million kilometres or 93 million miles.

It is impossible for an aircraft to fly in space, and it would burn up long before it reached the sun, but hypothetically, a Boeing 737 aircraft leaving the Earth would take over 18 years to reach the sun.

Now imagine 11,772 Earths lying side by side in a straight line, that would be equivalent to one AU.

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We are so familiar with the Sun, but what is a star?

There could be roughly 200 billion trillion stars in the observable universe. Wow!

By Denis Degioanni on Unsplash

Looking up at the night sky, we see stars as pinpricks of light.

Our local star, the sun, is different as it's very close. We are dazzled by its bright light and feel its tremendous heat.

But what is a star?

A star is an enormous, luminous ball of gas made mostly of hydrogen and helium and held together by its own gravity.

The reason it is bright and extremely hot is because of the nuclear reactions that are taking place in its core.

Photons of light generated in the core of a star can take up to 200,000 years to reach the surface. Then they can escape and travel through space at almost 300,000 kilometres per second.

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What Is a Planet?

We all live on one but why do planets exist?

By ActionVance on Unsplash

So what does it take to be a planet?

It must orbit a star; it needs to be big and have enough mass for gravity to pull it into a spherical shape; and the third requirement is that it can clear away large objects near its own orbit.

Stars, including our sun, are created in massive interstellar molecular clouds of dust and gas. Over time, gravity pulls together large amounts of material that eventually form a star. During that process, which takes millions of years, leftover material swirls around the new rotating star. It is inside this swirling disc of material that planets slowly form.

Most of us are familiar with our own star system, which includes the sun at the centre and its eight orbiting planets, including our magical home, the Earth.

The end

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Science
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About the Creator

A B Forbes

Someone with a lifelong passion for that gargantuan area we call the universe. I also write stories about life itself. Enjoy

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  • River Joy3 months ago

    I really love space and I really loved these small, easily digestible, exciting, facts. Thank you for this! It's well written and fascinating.

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