The last frontier of space is a beautiful, vast and mysterious place. The more we study and explore, it seems the more questions we have. However, scientists are breaking down the mysteries, piece by piece and we’ve put together a list of some of the most mind-bending facts for you to grapple with.
1. Venus' Day Lasts Longer than its Year
Because Venus rotates backwards, the sun rises in the west and sets in the east. Even more curious, because of its slow rotation, a day on Venus takes 243 Earth days and one year is equal to 224 days.
2. How Big is Big?
The Sun is so big we could theoretically squash in 1.3 million Earths! But that isn’t big. The largest star discovered is called UY Scuti, it’s almost 16x wider than the distance from the Earth to the Sun!
3. The Moon is Moving Away from Earth
Yes, ‘Lunar Retreat’ is a thing! The Moon is travelling out 3.8 centimetres per year. Due to gravity pushing and pulling between the Earth’s oceans and the Moon, the Moon is speeding up and its orbit is getting larger.
4. Sunsets on Mars are Blue!
Sunset colours are a product of a planet’s atmosphere and how particles scatter sunlight. Mars’s atmosphere is dominated by larger dust particles and less atmospheric gas, creating unique, blue sunsets. Explaining the phenomena
5. The Speed of Light
At almost 300,000 kms per second, we know that nothing travels faster than the speed of light. To put that into perspective, light can travel around the Earth 7.5 times in one second!
6. How Big are the Rings of Saturn?
Saturn’s spectacular ring system is made up of various sizes of dust, ice and rock. But did you know the rings extend out 282,000 kilometres from the planet and are only about 10 metres thick!
7. There are More Stars than Grains of Sand!
Scientists estimate our universe contains at least 70 sextillion stars or 70 thousand, million, million, million, observable stars, that’s 7 followed by 22 zeros!
8. What Would it Take to Match the Engergy of the Sun?
The outer surface temperature of the sun is 5,500 degrees C, while at the core it reaches 15 million degrees C. That is equal to exploding 100 billion tons of dynamite every second!
9. How Much Space Junk is out in Space?
Since our first forays into space, humans have been cluttering up ‘Low Earth Orbit’ with dangerous space debris. Rough estimates count 900,000 pieces from 1cm to 10cm in size. Space Debris by the numbers
10. GRB's, the Most Powerful Explosions in the Universe
GRB’s or Gamma Ray Bursts occur from the core collapse of massive stars forming into blackholes. They produce the most powerful explosions ever discovered, generating as much energy in seconds as the sun will emit during its lifetime.
Have more questions about space?
Join out Stargazing and Astronomy in Western Australia Facebook group and post your questions in there. We’ll get back to you with an answer!