Facts About The Sun, Moon And The Stars

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Facts about the Sun Moon and the Stars
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Every child is curious. They ask several questions and some of them may even amaze you at times. But it is up to you to provide them with the right kind of information. This is their age to grow and develop into a smarter and more aware human being. We have collected some amazing facts related to the Sun, Moon and the Stars which will interest your child when you tell them. This may even make them an outstanding student in their classroom!

They may have already bombarded you with hundreds of questions while looking up at the sky. Here is your chance to gather answers for them.

 

The Sun

  • The Sun is a star found at the center of the Solar system.
  • It makes up around 99.86% of the Solar System’s mass.
  • At around 1,392,000 kilometres (865,000 miles) wide, the Sun’s diameter is about 110 times wider than Earth’s.
  • The Sun’s core is around 13600000 degrees Celsius!
  • Around 74% of the Sun’s mass is made up of hydrogen. Helium makes up around 24% while heavier elements such as oxygen, carbon, iron and neon make up the remaining percentage.
  • Light from the Sun reaches Earth in around 8 minutes.
  • The Sun’s surface temperature is around 5500 degrees Celsius (9941 degrees Fahrenheit), so pack plenty of sunscreen if you plan on visiting (remembering that the average distance from the Sun to the Earth is around 150 million kilometers).
  • The Sun generates huge amounts of energy by combining hydrogen nuclei into helium. This process is called nuclear fusion.
  • Because of the Sun’s huge influence on Earth, many early cultures saw the Sun as a deity or god. For example, Ancient Egyptians had a sun god called Ra while in Aztec mythology there is a sun god named Tonatiuh.
  • The Sun produces a solar wind which contains charged particles such as electrons and protons. They escape the Sun’s intense gravity because of their high kinetic energy and the high temperature of the Sun’s corona (a type of plasma atmosphere that extends into space).
  • Planets with strong magnetic fields such as Earth manage to deflect most of these charged particles as they approach.
  • A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon is between the Sun and the Earth.

 

The Moon

  • The Moon is the Earth’s only natural satellite. A natural satellite is a space body that orbits a planeta, a planet like object or an asteroid.
  • It is the fifth largest moon in the solar system. Learn more about the other moons in the solar system.
  • The average distance from the Moon to the Earth is 384403 kilometres (238857 miles).
  • The Moon orbits the Earth every 27.3 days.
  • Mons Huygens is the tallest mountain on the Moon, it is 4700 metres tall, just over half the height of Mt Everest (8848m).
  • The Moon rotates on its axis in around the same length of time it takes to orbit the Earth. This means that from Earth we only ever see around 60% of its surface (50% at any one time).
  • The side that we can see from Earth is called the near side while the other side is called the far side (it is sometimes called the dark side despite the fact that it illuminated by the Sun just as much as the near side).
  • The effect of gravity is only about one fifth (17%) as strong on the surface of the Moon compared to the strength of gravity on the surface of the Earth.
  • The Soviet Union’s Luna program featured the first successful landing of an unmanned spacecraft on the surface of the Moon in 1966.
  • The USA’s NASA Apollo 11 mission in 1969 was the first manned Moon landing.
  • The first person to set foot on the Moon was Neil Armstrong.
  • The far side of the Moon looks quite different due to its lack of maria (ancient pools of solidified lava).
  • The surface of the Moon features a huge number of impact craters from comets and asteroids that have collided with the surface over time. Because the Moon lacks an atmosphere or weather these craters remain well preserved.
  • Although research is continuing, most scientists agree that the Moon features small amounts of water.
  • The Moon is very hot during the day but very cold at night. The average surface temperature of the Moon is 107 degrees Celsius during the day and -153 degrees Celsius at night.
  • The Earth’s tides are largely caused by the gravitational pull of the Moon.
  • The phases of the Moon are: New Moon, Crescent, First Quarter, Waxing Gibbous, Full Moon, Waning Gibbous, Last Quarter, Crescent, New Moon.
  • A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth is between the Sun and the Moon.

 

The Stars

  • A star is a massive, bright, sphere of very hot gas called plasma which is held together by its own gravity.
  • Stars radiate energy created from nuclear fusion, which is a process that takes place in a star’s core and involves hydrogen fusing (burning) to make helium.
  • As a star is near the end of its life, it begins to change the helium into heavier chemical elements, such carbon and oxygen, and the star will begin to change color, density, mass and size.
  • The nearest star to Earth is the Sun, which is classified as a G2 yellow dwarf star.
  • After the Sun in our solar system, the nearest star to Earth is Proxima Centauri. It is about 39.9 trillion km away or 4.2 light years. This means it takes light from this star 4.2 years to reach Earth. Using the newest, fastest space probe propulsion systems would still take a craft about 75,000 years to get there.
  • There are approximately 200-400 billion stars in our Milky Way Galaxy alone.
  • Each galaxy contains hundreds of billions of stars and there is estimated to be over 100 billion galaxies in the universe. So the total number of stars in the universe is mind boggling, estimated to be at least 70 sextillion and possibly as high as 300 sextillion, that’s 300,000,000,000,000,000,000,000!!!!!
  • Stars are usually between 1 and 10 billion years old. Some stars may even be close to the age of the observed Universe at nearly 13.8 billion years old.
  • Binary stars and multi-star systems are two or more stars that are gravitationally linked, they orbit around each other.
  • Stars form in nebulas, which are large gases areas. As gravity attracts more and more gas, young stars (called protostars) start to form in thick molecular gases cloud areas of the nebula.
  • Once nuclear fusion has began in the core, a star is sufficiently fuelled to spend the majority of its life as a main sequence star in its most stable form.
  • The most common star, are red dwarfs. They are less than half the size and mass of our Sun, and burn their fuel very slowly so live longer than any other type of star, over 100 billion years. Red dwarfs are cooler than most stars and so shine less, eventually getting dimmer they do not explode.
  • A brown dwarf forms if a star cannot get hot enough to reach nuclear fusion. Its failed to become a proper star but is still not a planet because it does glow dimly.
  • As yellow dwarf stars like our Sun start to run out of hydrogen fuel, the core shrinks, heats and pushes out the rest of the star turning it into a red giant.
  • Red supergiants, such as Betelgeuse in the constellation Orion make our Sun look small, 20x its mass, and 1,000x larger. Red hypergiants such as the largest known star VY Canis Majoris are even bigger, over 1,800x the size of the Sun.
  • When smaller stars such as red dwarfs or red giants use up all their fuel and nuclear fusion slows they start to die, and become small “white dwarf” stars which will emit white light until they finally darken into “black dwarfs”.
  • Big stars like supergiants and hypergiants have shorter lives as they consume their fuel at a faster rate than smaller stars. As these massive stars die they explode as massive bright supernova.
  • Very heavy stars that have gone supernova can actually turn into black holes.
  • Other supernova leave behind very small 20 to 40km (25 mi) in diameter white neutron stars, that have dense cores made of neutrons.
  • Star matter blown away by supernova explosions form new stellar nebula and the process of making stars begins again.
  • Stars range in color depending on how hot they are, in order from lowest to highest temperature they are can be brown, red, orange, yellow, white, or blue in color.
  • The light from stars takes millions of years to reach Earth, therefore when you look at the stars you are literally looking back in time.
  • Stars do not actually twinkle. They only appear to twinkle due to turbulences in the Earth’s atmosphere deflecting the light that reaches our eyes.
  • The stars have played a very important role throughout human history. They have formed part of religious practices, been grouped into constellations, used in astrology star signs, helped to design calendars and were very important navigational tools for early explorations across land and seas.

Also read – Space related facts for your kids