Facts About Outer Space

Monks in the 16th century recorded seeing a giant explosion on the side of the Moon. It most likely was a large meteor that slammed into the Moon and left a large crater. It was a good thing the Moon was between us and the meteor!

See the rings of Saturn while you can. They slowly wobble up and down over the years as Saturns poles point away from then towards the sun. The rings disappear when edge on to our line of sight. Currently they are almost at their widest point and can be seen even in binoculars and small telescopes.

Stars viewed through even the largest telescopes look like tiny points of light. But astronomers, using the Hubble Space Telescope to photograph a star called Betelgeuse (pronounced “beetle jooze”), have now been able to see the surface of another star. Betelgeuse is a red, giant star located at the left shoulder of the constellation Orion and is the largest known star in our galaxy.

Not all stars are found inside galaxies. Astronomers have found stars moving between the galaxies, which are millions of light years apart. These stars may even have planets, possibly with intelligent life on them. If they do, these beings would see a lonely sky with just one star (its own sun) and a few faint galaxies.

The Hubble Telescope has photographed pictures of auroras on Jupiter and Saturn very much like those at our North and South Poles. But if we had auroras as big as these, they would cover the entire Earth and more.

If you were to place the planet Saturn in a big enough bowl of water, it would float!
Submitted by: Mark-Robert

After a blistering day of exploring, astronauts may relax with a nice cold glass of ice water from Mercury, the planet closest to the sun. Since there is no atmosphere there to spread the heat around, shadows in deep craters at the poles could hold ice deposited by early comet collisions.

Where do comets come from? There is a huge cloud of objects made of ice and rock encircling our solar system, called the Oort Cloud. It lies beyond Pluto and extends half way out to the next star. These objects occasionally bump into each other, sending one in towards the sun to become a comet like the recent Hale-Bopp comet.

Someday you may go ice fishing on Jupiters moon, Europa. Evidence is being constantly discovered that there is an ocean under the ice of Europa. The ice would keep the ocean from evaporating and huge tides caused by Jupiter would keep the ocean temperature above freezing. What kinds of life might there be in such a strange ocean?

A giant game of cosmic pool was played when the solar system was first formed billions of years ago. Neptune was hit by an asteroid so big it was knocked sideways on its axis. It orbits with one pole pointed at the sun. Venus was hit so hard it is almost upside down and is the only planet to spin backwards on its axis. And most astronomers believe the Moon was formed when an asteroid almost the size of Mars hit Earth and shot debris into orbit. I wonder who won the game and when is the next tournament?
Submitted by: Todd

When you think you’re standing still remember this fact. Even though you don’t feel it, our entire local group of galaxies is moving at about one million miles per hour toward another galaxy group called the Virgo Cluster.
Submitted by: Todd

Scientist believe that diamond rains occur on Neptune and Uranus. The heart of these planets may be a layer of diamonds hundreds of miles thick.
Submitted by: Todd

Jupiter’s giant red spot is like a tornado and it is 3 times bigger than the earth.
Submitted by: Macsmom

The largest crater on the moon measures 183 miles across.

Astronomers know Mars is a backwards planet. Once a year, for several days, it appears to move backwards in its orbit. This is actually an optical illusion when the faster orbit of Earth races past Mars.
Submitted by: Todd

The farthest you can see with the naked eye is 2.4 million light years away! (140,000,000,000,000,000,000 miles.) That’s the distance to the giant Andromeda Galaxy. You can see it easily as a dim, large gray “cloud” almost directly overhead in a clear night sky.
Submitted by: Todd

Jupiter is a planet made entirely of gases.

The first animal sent up to outer space was a dog.

If you could live on the planet Mercury, a year would only last 88 days.

Saturn’s moon, Titan, actually has many geysers spewing out of its south poles. Scientists have said that the geysers are very similiar to the ones here on earth.
Submitted by: Lexie