As early as prehistoric times, humankind was fascinated by the night sky and all of its beauty. For centuries, philosophers and scholars would attribute magical properties to the bright stars and the Milky Way. In more recent times, we understand better what these mysterious objects are, and we can observe far more than our ancestors – planets, clusters, galaxies, and nebulae.
And while we now know that no magic is involved at all, the view still remains magical and fascinating. The reason is that even though we have come along so far, there is still so much that we can learn.
Astronomy is a gateway for a wide range of amazing hobbies that are all related to each other. From terrestrial observations to deep sky object exploration, you will be able to learn about optics, cameras, binoculars, physics, and the history of the universe.
Thanks to Astronomy For Beginners, let’s start with these 25 astronomy facts that will leave you speechless.
25 Amazing Astronomy Facts
- We look at the past: for example, when you look at the Andromeda galaxy, which is 2.3 million light-years away, the light you are seeing took 2.3 million years to reach you. Thus you are seeing the galaxy as it was 2.3 million years ago.
- Every year, the Sun evaporates 100,000 cubic miles of water from Earth. That weighs 400 trillion tonnes!
- Half of the constellations never made it into the original list. These include Machina Electrica (a constellation created by the German astronomer Johann Bode in 1800 from faint stars between Fornax and Sculptor, to the south of Cetus), Officina Typographica (Latin for the printing office, a constellation drawn up by Johann Bode and Joseph Jérôme de Lalande in 1798, located east of Sirius and Canis Major, north of Puppis, and south of Monoceros), and Turdus Solitarius (Latin for solitary thrush, a constellation created by French astronomer Pierre Charles Le Monnier in 1776 from stars of Hydra’s tail).
- Only one side of the moon ever faces Earth. The moon’s period of rotation is exactly the same as its period of orbit around Earth, which is called tidal locking.
- When Galileo Galilei viewed Saturn for the first time through his telescope, he described the planet as having “ears”. It was not until 1655 that Christiaan Huygens suggested the crazy theory that they might be an enormous set of rings around the planet.
- The estimated number of stars in the Universe is greater than the number of grains of sand on all the beaches in the world. On a clear night, we can see just the equivalent of a handful of sand.
- Temperatures on Venus are hot enough to melt lead.
- If you could travel at the speed of light, which is 186,000 miles per second, it would take 100,000 years to cross our galaxy, the Milky Way.
- The Earth is not a perfect sphere. It actually is an oblate spheroid, squashed slightly at the poles and bulges out at the equator due to its rotation.
- Jupiter acts as a giant vacuum cleaner, attracting and absorbing comets and meteors. Some estimates say that without Jupiter’s gravitational influence, the number of massive projectiles bombarding Earth would be 10,000 times higher.
- If a piece of Sun the size of a pinhead were to be placed on Earth, you could not safely stand within 90 miles of it.
- If you could put Saturn in an enormous bath tube, it would float. The ringed planet is less dense than water. In fact, the Earth is the densest planet in the entire solar system.
- A teaspoon full of neutron star material would weigh about 112 million tonnes.
- Betelgeuse, the bright star on Orion’s top-left shoulder, is so big that if it was placed where the Sun is, it would swallow up Earth, Mars, and Jupiter.
- If you stand on the equator, you are spinning at about 1,000 mph in as the Rath rotates. You are also traveling at about 67,000 mph around the sun.
- Light from the Sun takes 8 minutes to reach Earth. Thus you see the Sun as it was 8 minutes ago. It might have blown up five minutes ago and you wouldn’t know about it.
- Even on the clearest night, the human eye can see only about 3,000 stars. There are an estimated 100-200 billion stars in our galaxy alone.
- Jupiter is heavier than all the other planets put together.
- On Mercury, a day is 59 earth days. Its year (the time it takes to orbit the Sun) is 88 days. That means there are fewer than 2 days in a year on Mercury.
- Space is not a complete vacuum, there are three atoms per cubic meter.
- Saturn is not the only planet with rings in the solar system. Neptune has also its own ring system.
- The atmosphere on Earth is proportionately thinner than the skin on an apple.
- On the equator, you’re about 3 percent lighter than the poles due to the centrifugal force of the Earth spinning.
- If the Sun were the size of a dot on an ordinary-sized letter “i”, then the nearest star would be 10 miles away.
- The tallest mountain in the solar system is Olympus Mons, on Mars at a height of about 15 miles (24 km), about three times the height of Mount Everest. It also covers an area about half the size of Spain.
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