April 2009 - Posts

Interesting Facts about the Inner Planets
Wednesday, April 29, 2009 12:36 PM

  • The inner planets are Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars.
  • Close to the Sun and separated from the much larger Outer Planets by an asteroid belt.
  • Sometimes called terrestrial planets and are composed of rock.
  • Due to their hard surfaces, these planets have canyons, craters, mountains, and volcanoes.
  • Few or no moons.
  • Developed from small grains of dust that collided and formed together. 

I found a very nice flash piece on another website that shows the relative speed of these planets in orbit around the sun. Click here to view it.

 

by Amaryllis Place | with no comments
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Interesting Facts about Mars
Tuesday, April 28, 2009 2:55 PM
  • called the Red Planet due to its red soil made up of iron oxide, more commonly known as rust
  • dust storms can cover the whole planet and last for weeks
  • has ice just under the surface
  • 2 moons, one of which orbits closer to its planet than any other moon in our solar system
  • has biggest mountain in the solar system, Olympus Mons
  • half the size of Earth, one-third the gravity
  • one day on Mars is 1.026 Earth days
  • one year on Mars is 687 Earth days
  • average temperature -87° F, can range from -200° F to 72° F
by Amaryllis Place | with no comments
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Interesting Facts about Venus
Thursday, April 23, 2009 4:59 PM
  • closest in size to Earth (95% of our diameter)
  • rotates backwards compared to other planets
  • no moons
  • densest atmosphere of carbon dioxide (96%) with sulfur dioxide clouds
  • 92 times the pressure of Earth's atmosphere
  • one day on Venus is 243 Earth days
  • one year on Venus is 225 Earth days
  • hottest planet with temperatures above 860° F
by Amaryllis Place | with no comments
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Interesting Facts about Mercury
Monday, April 20, 2009 11:56 AM
  • smallest planet and closet to the sun
  • most eccentric orbit of all the planets
  • slightly larger than Earth's moon
  • no moons (the sun would pull any object away from Mercury's gravity)
  • no seasons (axis is not tilted)
  • the sun would look almost 3 times as big if you were standing on Mercury
  • one day on Mercury is 59 Earth days
  • one year on Mercury is 88 Earth days (shortest year of all planets)
  • greatest temperature variance (from -279° F during the night to 801° F during the day)
by Amaryllis Place | with no comments
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Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
Friday, April 10, 2009 1:32 PM

I've heard the phrase "Seven Wonders of the Ancient World" quite often over the years. I tried to recall if I ever knew what they were, but I could only think of one - the Great Pyramid. I decided to do a little research to find out the others. Much to my disappointment I found that only one of them is still around (the Great Pyramid, of course). No wonder I couldn't name any of the others. They are supposed to be works of remarkable construction, but they are all located around the Mediterranean rim. The traditional list of wonders was written by Philo of Byzantium, a Greek (although there is some question about this).

  • Great Pyramid of Giza
  • Hanging Gardens of Babylon
  • Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
  • Statue of Zeus at Olympia
  • Mausoleum of Maussollos at Halicarnassus
  • Colossus of Rhodes
  • Lighthouse of Alexandria 

Most of them were destroyed by fire or earthquake. The Colossus of Rhodes (a giant statue of the Greek god Helios) only stood for 50 years. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon have never been proven to exist.

The phrase "Eigth Wonder of the World" is often used to describe something that also has remarkable qualities. It has been applied to natural places (canyons, waterfalls) and to human creations (Great Wall of China, Taj Mahal, Stonehenge, Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, etc.).

The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (from left to right, top to bottom) as depicted by 16th-century Dutch artist Marten Heemskerk.
by Amaryllis Place | with no comments
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Earthshine can be used to find another habitable planet
Thursday, April 09, 2009 4:32 PM

Earthshine is sunlight that bounces off of the earth and onto other objects in space. A study was performed to measure the difference of the amount of earthshine coming from the continents on Earth as compared to the amount of earthshine coming from the oceans. It was found that the shine from the oceans was quite intense compared to the dimmer shine from the land masses. They determined this by taking pictures of the dark side of the moon (where light from our sun never hits) at various times over a three-year period. As a result, they could measure the amount of earthshine from the continents hitting the moon and the amount of earthshine from the oceans.

This certainly sounds reasonable. Anyone that has been out on the water found out that it is easy to get sunburnt even when staying under a cover. The water will reflect light at you from below despite being shaded from the sun above.

Scientists may be able to use this information when looking for another habitable planet around other stars in the universe. Any planet we will be looking at will be too far away for us to get a good look at its surface. However, we might be able to view the amount of shine generated from the planet onto other objects nearby. It could provide clues to the physical make up of the planet.

Once we humans have made this planet uninhabitable for ourselves, we'll need to move somewhere else to survive. Unfortunately, I don't think our space traveling abilities will advance fast enough to allow us to move some place else, even if we are lucky enough to locate a destination.

Resource: University of Melbourne (2009, April 8). Earthshine Reflects Earth's Oceans And Continents From The Dark Side Of The Moon. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 9, 2009, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2009/04/090407105156.htm.

by Amaryllis Place | with no comments
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