Astronomy

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Just as day is brighter than night, the sun is much brighter than the moon — 400,000 times brighter, to be exact. That's compared to even the fullest, brightest full moon. From an astronomical standpoint, this is no surprise. The moon doesn't generate its own light, and the burning sun provides the vast majority of all the natural light on earth.

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  • How did the solar system form?

    Q: How did the solar system form?

    A: The formation of the solar system began with the creation of the sun after an exploding supernova caused spherical accumulation of dust particles and gas in a huge swirling cloud called nebula. Planets and other components of the solar system formed in the flat plane of the rotating disc of dust.
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  • How did Galileo impact the world?

    Q: How did Galileo impact the world?

    A: Galileo's main impact on the world was his improvement upon the telescope and being the first to use it in the science of astronomy. He also supported the Copernican system that stated that planets orbit the sun rather than the Earth as the Catholic Church said at the time. His other contribution was to contradict Aristotle's teachings that heavier objects fall faster than lighter ones.
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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 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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  • 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 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 is the difference between equinox and solstice?

    Q: What is the difference between equinox and solstice?

    A: A solstice is defined as the point during the Earth's orbit around the sun at which the sun is at its greatest distance from the celestial equator, while an equinox is at its least distance. A solstice is characterized by either an extremely long night or an extremely short day.
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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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  • 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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  • 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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  • What causes day and night to happen?

    Q: What causes day and night to happen?

    A: The Earth goes through a constant cycle of day and night because it rotates on an axis. At any point in time, only about half of the Earth is facing the sun, while the other side is facing away from it. The side that is facing the sun is illuminated (day) while the side facing away from the sun remains dark (night).
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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 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 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 does the full moon symbolize?

    Q: What does the full moon symbolize?

    A: The full moon is said to symbolize different things in various cultures, including the control of water as well as the rhythm of time. The phases of the moon are also used to represent phases of life.
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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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  • What is a shooting star?

    Q: What is a shooting star?

    A: Although a shooting star looks like a star shooting across the sky, it's actually a meteor, or small rock that hits Earth's atmosphere. Because of the speed at which the meteor, or meteoroid, is traveling it burns and releases a glow.
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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 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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  • How does the Astrolabe work?

    Q: How does the Astrolabe work?

    A: Astrolabes work by presenting users with a graphic interface that makes it relatively easy to compute the positions of the sun, the moon and the stars. Astrolabes can be used for navigation as well as predicting the exact times for sunrise and sunset. Turned on its side, an astrolabe can be used as a mechanical calculator akin to a slide rule.
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  • How long will the sun last?

    Q: How long will the sun last?

    A: The sun will last approximately another five billion years, according to NASA in 2012. The sun's light and heat are generated by the burning, or fusing, of hydrogen gas into helium gas.
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