Curiosities of astronomy –

Interesting data

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  • How many stars can we see

    The night sky seems to have millions of stars visible. That’s because we live in a galaxy that has hundreds of millions of stars. However, we can not see them with the naked eye. It turns out that the heavens of the Earth have, at most, around ten thousand stars that can be seen with the naked eye.

  • How many planets have rings

    In our Solar System 4 of the 9 planets have rings: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. It also has Cariclo rings, one of the centaurs. Of all of them, Saturn is the one with the largest ring system, so much so that they are visible from Earth with a small telescope. The rings of Jupiter were first seen in 1979 by Voyager 1, since they are quite difficult to see with telescopes. The ring system of Neptune is composed of 5 fairly weak rings. Finally, Uranus has 13 very dark rings.

  • How many rings does Saturn have?

    Saturn has a system of 4 rings that were first observed by Galileo Galilei in July 1610. Rings A and B are very bright. There is a distance of 4,800 km between one and another, which is the division of Cassini , a dark band discovered by him in 1675. Inside there is a satellite shepherd: Mimas. Ring A is divided, in turn, into two parts by the division of Encke. The edge of ring A is also guarded by the satellite shepherd Atlas. Ring C is weaker and D weaker still. The order of the rings, from inside to outside is: D, C, B, A. The space probes Voyager and Cassini sent high-resolution photographs in which some novelties were discovered: in the outer area of ​​the ring A, there are 3 rings very pale, called E, F and G. Ring F has 2 satellite satellites, Prometheus and Pandora, the first in its internal zone and the second in the external zone, which give it shape. Later another ring was discovered between the F and the G, the ring H.

  • The size of our galaxy

    Our galaxy has the shape of a disk, with a thick central area and a large spherical cloud, called halo, of old stars surrounding the disk. If we look at where the stars and visible gas reach, the diameter of the disk and the halo together is 100,000 light years. On the other hand, the disk has a thickness between 1,000 and 12,000 light years. It is known that there is matter formed by hydrogen in the form of molecules that are not observed in visible radiation. This hydrogen cloud surrounds the entire galaxy, the disk and the halo together, although not homogeneously, and can reach distances from the galactic center to twice the radius of the disk.

  • The oldest astronomical observatory still preserved

    The observatory of Cheomseongdae, in Kyongju, South Korea, was built between 632-647 and was used to observe the stars and predict the weather. It measures 9.17 m high X 5.35 m at the base.

  • The first living being to travel to space

    The first living creature that orbited the Earth was the dog Laika, which in Russian means “barking”. It was on November 3, 1957 on board the Soviet ship Sputnik 2. After Laika, the USSR sent 12 dogs to the space, of which only five arrived alive back to Earth.

  • Who invented the telescope


    Image result for astronomyThe Dutchman Hans Lipershay tried to patent it, but he was denied “because it is so simple to copy” that it was such an object, which indicates that, probably, telescopes already existed throughout Europe, although none was suitable for astronomy. There are indications that a Girona artisan named Joan Roget could have manufactured the first telescopes. But it was Galileo Galilei who in 1609 was the first to aim for heaven, thus beginning four hundred years of discoveries about the cosmos.

  • The first woman who flew into space

    In 1963 the Soviet Valentina Tereshkova traveled around the Earth 48 times on the Vostok 6 spacecraft. The first American woman to travel into space was Sally Ride on board the Challenger spacecraft in 1983 and 1984.

  • The size of our galaxy

    It has an average diameter of 100,000 light-years and is estimated to contain some 200,000 million stars. The distance from the Sun to the center of the galaxy is around 27,700 light-years. The thickness of the Milky Way is 16,000 light years in the center, becoming smaller in the outer zones, approximately of 3,000 light-years.

  • The hottest planet surface in the Solar System

    The surface of Venus, 470º C. At its hottest time, Mercury reaches 427º C. The thick atmosphere of Venus retains the heat of the Sun, so the temperatures at midnight are as hot as at noon. There the rocks are so hot that they have a red glow.

  • The coldest surface recorded in the Solar System

    Triton, the largest satellite of Neptune. When the Voyager 2 probe passed this world in 1989, it discovered an extremely cold surface with a temperature of -235ºC.

  • The largest crater in our Solar System

    The basin of Aitken, in the south pole of the Moon, of 2,500 km in diameter. It was not discovered until the Clementine probe visited the Moon in 1994. Scientists used the Clementine data to map the lunar surface. It was then that they discovered this basin, a vast depression on the hidden face of the Moon that is more than 12 km deep.

  • The highest mountain in the Solar System

    Mount Olimpus, on Mars, reaches 24 km high. The second is the Maxwell Mountains, on Venus, which rise 11 km above the average level of the planet’s surface. The officially highest peak on Earth is Mount Everest, which reaches 8.8 km above the mean sea level. However, Hawaii’s Mauna Kea can also claim to be the tallest, since it rises 9 km above the ocean floor on which it sits.

  • The largest canyon in the Solar System

    Valles Marineris, on Mars, about 4000 km long, with a maximum width of about 600 km and a maximum depth of 8 km. If it were in the United States, this canyon would extend from San Francisco, on the west coast, to the Appalachian mountains of Virginia, near the east coast. In Europe, it would occupy from Paris to the Ural mountains, in Russia.

  • The largest planet in the Solar System

    Jupiter, which has a mass of 317.8 lands and about 11 times its diameter. Jupiter has more mass than all the rest of the planets, satellites, comets and asteroids.

  • The largest known planet


    Image result for astronomyAn unnamed planet, orbiting the star HD114762. This planet seems to have 11 times the mass of Jupiter, although some astronomers think it may be a brown dwarf, an object that is like a small, dark cold star. If it is indeed a brown dwarf, then the largest planet would be one that is 6.6 times the mass of Jupiter and orbits around the star 70 Virginis.

  • The largest satellite in the Solar System

    The satellite of Jupiter, Ganymede, of 5268 km in diameter. If it orbited around the Sun instead of around Jupiter, it would be classified as a planet. It is larger than Mercury and Pluto.

  • The biggest shower of stars

    The Leonids of November 13, 1833, when they counted up to 200,000 meteors per hour. The spectators said that the meteorites “looked like snowflakes”, although many thought that the end of the world had arrived. The impressive display helped astronomers realize that meteorites entered the Earth’s atmosphere from outer space, and were not a typical phenomenon of the Earth as rain.

  • The largest meteorite

    The Hoha meteorite, in Namibia, of about 60 tons, a weight similar to that of 9 elephants. Discovered in 1920, this 3 m long meteor continues where it fell. Originally it was even bigger since part of the meteorite has suffered erosion.

  • The largest asteroid

    1 Ceres, 913 km in diameter. The largest asteroid of all was also the first to be found: it was discovered on the first day of the 19th century, on January 1, 1801. It was discovered by Giuseppe Piazzi from the Palermo observatory.

  • The largest object of the Kuiper Belt

    Quaoar is 1300 km in diameter or what is the same, half Pluto. Orbit beyond Nepturno, in the so-called Kuiper Belt, and it is the largest smaller planet known. It’s bigger than all the asteroids together in the asteroid belt.

  • The comet closest to Earth

    Comet Lexell passed in 1770 at a distance of 2.2 million km from Earth, less than 6 times the distance to the Moon. Although it got so close, this comet did not develop much tail and the head did not exceed the size equivalent to 5 times that of the Moon in our night sky.

  • The longest comet tail

    That of the Great Comet of March 1843, 300 million km long. It was so long as to reach from the Sun until it passed the orbit of Mars.

  • The biggest star in our night sky

    Betelgeuse, in Orión, has a diameter of about 800 soles. If it replaced the Sun in our Solar System, this red supergiant star would occupy beyond the orbit of Jupiter.

  • The highest mass star

    Eta Carinae has a mass about 150 times greater than the Sun. Astronomers are not sure if Eta Carinae is a star or two.

  • The lowest mass star

    Gliese 105C has a mass of 10% of that of the Sun. This is the smallest a star can be so that it can still be considered a true star (an object that converts hydrogen into helium).

  • The nearest star

    Próxima Centauri is the third member of the Alpha Centauri System. This red and cold dwarf star is about 4.2 light years, about 0.1 light year closer to us, than the other two stars in the system.

  • The globular star cluster with the highest number of stars

    Omega Centauri, with 1.1 million stars. This globular cluster measures about 180 light years in diameter.

  • The highest mass galaxy

    The elliptical giant M87, in the constellation Virgo, with a mass equivalent to at least 800,000 million suns. M87 is part of the galaxy cluster of Virgo.

  • The galaxy of least mass

    The elliptical dwarf galaxy Pegasus II, which has a mass equivalent to 10 million suns. There may be smaller galaxies; but, since they are not very bright, astronomers can not detect them unless they are close to us.

  • The nearest galaxy

    The dwarf galaxy of Can Mayor. This galaxy is 25,000 light years from the Solar System and 42,000 light years from the center of the Milky Way. It is the current holder of this record, but new elliptical dwarf galaxies are discovered every year and perhaps an even closer one has been discovered.

  • The object visible to the farthest eye

    The Andromeda galaxy (M31), which is 2.9 million light years away. When you look at this galaxy, you can see the light that came out of it when the last ice ages began on Earth. The spiral galaxy M33, in the constellation of the Triangle, is farther away and weaker, although someone with a very sharp sight may see it.

  • The furthest object detected

    An unnamed galaxy in the Big Dipper, at 12,600 million light years, although it may not hold the record for long.

  • The hottest planet

    The hottest planet discovered so far, according to New Scientist magazine in 2008, is the WASP-12b. This planet has a temperature of 2250º C, which means that it is half hotter than the Sun. Its mass is 1.5 times greater than that of the planet Jupiter. The finding was made by a group of European astronomers and the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands participated in it.

  • The youngest supernova of the Milky Way

    A group of astronomers discovered, thanks to the Chandra Telescope of NASA and the National Observatory of Radio Astronomy, in Green Bank, West Virginia (USA), in 2008, the rest of the youngest supernova of the Milky Way. It happened only 140 years ago and the rest of it had been tracked for two decades. This is of special importance since the last supernova seen in the Milky Way was discovered by Johannes Kepler , German astronomer, in 1604.

  • The largest telescope in the world

    It will be the Canary Gran Telecopio (GTC), and it will have an area equivalent to a circular mirror of 10.4 meters in diameter. It saw its first light on July 13, 2007, but when it is 100% operational, it will be one of the most advanced and with the best features for astronomical research. With a dome of 33 meters in diameter, its primary mirror will consist of 36 hexagonal glass-ceramic elements that have a diagonal of 1.9 meters each. Coupled together, they will form a hexagon of 11.4 meters and 16 tons of weight, equivalent to optical effects to a circular mirror of 10.4 meters in diameter. The GTC is being built on an area of ​​5000 square meters at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on the Canary Island of La Palma, at an altitude of 2400 meters.