Astronomy

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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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  • How would you describe a solar eclipse?

    Q: How would you describe a solar eclipse?

    A: A solar eclipse occurs when the moon moves directly between the Earth and the sun. The moon's shadow travels over the surface of the Earth and blocks out the light from the sun seen on Earth.
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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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  • What is a planetarium?

    Q: What is a planetarium?

    A: A planetarium is a facility designed to replicate the features of the universe in the night sky. Similar to a museum or science center, planetariums are developed in communities to offer education and entertainment to people curious about the field of astronomy. Visitors typically pay admission fees to enter just as they would at a theater or zoo.
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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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  • 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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  • How many times bigger is the sun than the earth?

    Q: How many times bigger is the sun than the earth?

    A: According to NASA, the sun’s diameter is approximately 100 times larger than the diameter of the earth. The earth would have to be lined up 100 times in order to stretch across the face of the sun.
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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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  • How do I set up a Tasco telescope?

    Q: How do I set up a Tasco telescope?

    A: Tasco provides free online instruction manuals for all of their products. Their telescopes come partially assembled. The tripod needs to be assembled, then the main body of the telescope attached to it. Once the main body of the telescope is on the tripod, the various accessories such as finderscopes and eyepieces need to be attached. The accessories vary slightly by model of telescope.
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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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  • 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 is outer space made of?

    Q: What is outer space made of?

    A: Outer space contains a low density of particles, primarily hydrogen gas, along with electromagnetic radiation. Many people, however, mistakenly believe outer space is a complete vacuum. The term "outer space" is used mainly to distinguish the space between planets from the planets and their airspace.
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  • What is the difference between a solar and lunar eclipse?

    Q: What is the difference between a solar and lunar eclipse?

    A: A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth so that the Moon's shadow falls on the Earth. A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth passes between the Sun and Moon and the Sun casts the Earth's shadow on the Moon. Both events happen only when the Sun, Moon and Earth are aligned.
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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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  • What is the purpose of the Hubble space telescope?

    Q: What is the purpose of the Hubble space telescope?

    A: The Hubble Space Telescope was created to capture detailed images or objects that are too far away to be viewed with conventional telescopes. The Hubble's instruments create images that are far superior to those of terrestrial observatories, which suffer from the effects of atmospheric distortion.
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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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  • Why is Nicolaus Copernicus famous?

    Q: Why is Nicolaus Copernicus famous?

    A: Nicolaus Copernicus is best known for being the father of what would later become humans' modern understanding of the solar system. Prior to this determination, scientists believed that all the objects in the solar system orbited around the Earth itself.
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  • What causes the Cassini division in Saturn's rings?

    Q: What causes the Cassini division in Saturn's rings?

    A: The Cassini Division, a gap in the rings of Saturn, is caused by gravitational pull from Saturn’s moon Mimas. The moon’s gravity affects the tiny particles that make up the rings, creating what looks like empty space. Other divisions in Saturn’s rings are the result of similar interactions with the planet’s moons.
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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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  • Why are summer days long and winter days short?

    Q: Why are summer days long and winter days short?

    A: The Earth's tilt on its axis is what causes the change in the seasons and explains why summer days are longer than winter days. The Earth orbits in an ellipse around the Sun, and because of this, it draws closer to the Sun at some points than at others. It is the direction of the Earth's tilt in its axis that determines the length of days and nights.
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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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