Astronomy

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The Chandler wobble is a wobbling motion that occurs as the Earth spins. This wobble causes latitude to vary by 20 feet every 433 days. The Earth returns to its mean position every 6.5 years.

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  • What causes a lunar eclipse?

    Q: What causes a lunar eclipse?

    A: Lunar eclipses are caused when the moon travels through the Earth’s shadow. Complete lunar eclipses are rare, but partial lunar eclipses may occur up to four times per year.
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  • What is the weather like on Uranus?

    Q: What is the weather like on Uranus?

    A: With an atmospheric temperature of -224 degrees Celsius and a surface temperature of -197 degrees Celsius, Uranus is a very cold planet with strong winds. It is the coldest planet in the solar system.
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  • What types of equipment do astronomers use?

    Q: What types of equipment do astronomers use?

    A: According to NASA, modern astronomers’ tools include advanced telescopes capable of studying light reflected from the sun, moon, planets, comets and stars. Radio telescopes are utilized in the study of radio waves, while space-borne gamma ray telescopes aid in the study of gamma rays.
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  • What is the bright object in the western sky?

    Q: What is the bright object in the western sky?

    A: The planet Venus is the brightest object in the western sky. At its brightest, Venus is almost 10 times brighter than Jupiter, the sky's second brightest object.
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  • What is the farthest star from Earth?

    Q: What is the farthest star from Earth?

    A: Scientists will never know the farthest star from Earth, as the star is so far away that its light has not, nor will ever, have enough time to reach Earth. Even the stars within the visible universe are far too numerous to count, but the farthest one that humans have ever detected is about 55 million light years away. This incredibly distant star is called SDSS J 122952.66 +112227.8.
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  • What is the sky made of?

    Q: What is the sky made of?

    A: Four layers of the earth's atmosphere containing various gases make up the composition of the sky. The layers of the atmosphere are divided into the troposphere, the stratosphere, the mesosphere and the thermosphere. The atmosphere's divisions occur according to temperature fluctuations.
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  • What happens to stars as they age?

    Q: What happens to stars as they age?

    A: Stars on the main sequence that are the same size as the Sun begin as yellow stars and turn into red giants as their hydrogen fuel runs out. Other stars shrink or explode, depending on their size.
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  • Are stars bigger than the sun?

    Q: Are stars bigger than the sun?

    A: Stars exist that are both bigger and smaller than the sun. The sun has a radius of 1.4 million kilometers and, relative to other stars, is an average size.
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  • Who named the Milky Way?

    Q: Who named the Milky Way?

    A: Early Greek astronomers named the galaxy "Via Lactea" in reference to the pale band of light formed by stars along the galactic plane. The origin of the name, which translates as "Road of Milk," has been lost to time.
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  • Why is it that stars twinkle but planets do not?

    Q: Why is it that stars twinkle but planets do not?

    A: Stars twinkle because they are point light sources. Passing through the atmosphere, the small beam of light constantly shifts by bouncing off particles in the air. Planets are closer, so they appear as discs, with the shifting of light from one side cancelling out the other.
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  • Why do stars pulsate?

    Q: Why do stars pulsate?

    A: Stars appear to pulsate and twinkle in the night sky due to the refraction of light through the Earth's atmosphere. When the light from a star enters the atmosphere, air molecules bounce and deflect the light rays, slightly altering the apparent position and intensity of the star.
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  • How big is Titan?

    Q: How big is Titan?

    A: Titan is 3,200.051 miles in diameter. It the second-largest moon out of hundreds in the solar system and is Saturn's largest. Titan's mass is 80 percent greater than that of the Earth's moon, and its diameter is 50 percent longer than the diameter of the Earth's moon.
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  • What color is the Milky Way?

    Q: What color is the Milky Way?

    A: In 2012, a team of astronomers from the University of Pittsburgh announced that the Milky Way galaxy is aptly named thanks to its pure, milky white color, which the scientists described as resembling a fresh snowfall. The fact that Earth is located within the Milky Way galaxy has made the process of measuring the galaxy's color difficult; obstructions from things like dust and gas within the galaxy had previously made it hard for scientists to get a broad enough view of the Milky Way in order to determine its color.
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  • How do space craters get their names?

    Q: How do space craters get their names?

    A: The International Astronomical Union (IAU), an organization of astronomers, names the craters on planets and moons in the solar system by giving each planet a creative theme. For example, the moon’s craters are usually named for deceased explorers, scientists and scholars, while large craters on Venus are named for famous women in various professional fields.
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  • What are meteorites made of?

    Q: What are meteorites made of?

    A: The meteorites that land on earth can be made of stone, iron or stony iron. A few meteorites are made of volcanic glass, but scientists aren't sure that all of these meteorites are extraterrestrial in nature. They believe some of these meteorites are formed when material from an impact crater liquefies and then turns to glass as it's ejected into the atmosphere.
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  • Where on the celestial sphere can you look for the planets?

    Q: Where on the celestial sphere can you look for the planets?

    A: The sun and planets follow the ecliptic, an imaginary plane in the celestial sphere tilted approximately 23.5 degrees relative to the celestial equator. Earthbound observers see the sun and planets move along the ecliptic arc, rising up from the east and setting in the west.
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  • What do you call a person who studies space?

    Q: What do you call a person who studies space?

    A: A person who studies space is called an astronomer or astrophysicist. These types of scientists are responsible for the discovery of all of the planets, stars, asteroids and other extraterrestrial objects.
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  • Where does the sky end?

    Q: Where does the sky end?

    A: The sky ends at the Karman line, which is located at about 67 miles above sea level. Above this line, space begins. However, technically, the sky does not end so much as the atmosphere, or sky, thins until there is no oxygen left.
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  • How did the constellation Orion get its name?

    Q: How did the constellation Orion get its name?

    A: Stargazers in ancient Greece observed the "pictures" formed by stars and named the Orion constellation after a mythological hunter. Many origin stories exist, but one popular version recounts Orion's quest to defeat a giant scorpion sent by Gaia, the goddess of Earth, according to the Windows to the Universe.
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  • What is a burnt-out star called?

    Q: What is a burnt-out star called?

    A: A burnt-out star is called a white dwarf. A white dwarf results after a star’s nuclear fuel burns out, which causes it to collapse or implode. While it has a mass similar to that of the sun, its radius is similar to that of the Earth.
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  • What does seeing a shooting star mean?

    Q: What does seeing a shooting star mean?

    A: Seeing a shooting star means that a meteor is plummeting toward earth. The glowing appearance is caused when the meteor's surface catches on fire upon entering the Earth's atmosphere. A shooting star, therefore, is not actually a star.
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