The Downright Coolness of Outer Space!
Space and astronomy are of course, geeky, awesome, and incredibly cool!
Recently The Royal Greenwich Observatory declared the winners for the Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2014, for photos showing the awesomeness of space. The images picture the cosmos beyond the planet, and photographers from more than 51 different countries submitted over 1700 different entries. Categories included: “Earth and Space”, “Our Solar System”, “Deep Space”, “Young Astronomy Photographer”, “Robotic Scope”, “People and Space” and the “Sir Patrick Moore Prize for Best Newcomer”. Check out the winning images here. Not only that, but they will be on display at the Royal Observatory now until February 2015 and it’s free!
You can even buy this collection of images from their online shop.
Obviously from these pictures we can establish that outer space is utterly fascinating, and indeed, awesome, but here are some more cool facts about space that you may have not known before:
1) Space is completely silent (not that you’d know if you’ve watched most scifi.)
Sound waves need a medium to travel through. Because there is no atmosphere in space, there is nothing for sound to travel through and therefore outer space is always completely silent. Source: Cornell University of Astronomy
Of course, most scifi tv shows and movies ignore this fact for dramatic effect… That was until Joss Whedon turned up with the genius that was Firefly and made space on scifi shows sound like it should… i.e. soundless. Battlestar Galactica followed his example in their reboot too. As cool as those sequences were, without some artistic movie license we wouldn’t have the iconic ‘TIE Fighter Scream’, so I’m prepared to let Hollywood have this one…
2) The Apollo astronauts’ footprints on the moon will most likely stay for at least 100 million years
Again, atmosphere plays a very important role. Because the moon does not have atmosphere, there is no wind or water to erode or wash away the astronauts footprints on the moon surface. All marks left by man will therefore be preserved for a very long time, however, not forever. The moon is constantly showered with ‘micrometeorites’ which means that erosion is still occurring but just at a very slow pace.
3) There is no way to know how many stars are in the universe
No one has any clue how many stars are in the universe. Instead we can try to estimate by using how many are in our own galaxy, the Milky Way. We can then multiply that by the number of “estimated” galaxies in the universe and at this point NASA has concluded that there are *in my best Brian Cox voice*… zillions of… uncountable stars… *wistfully staring and pointing at the sky*… Did you know you can even buy a star and own one of these uncountable scientific masterpieces?
Source: University of California at Santa Barbara ScienceLine.
4) More energy from the sun hits earth every hour than the planet uses in a year
Hmmm… then why is solar technology only producing less than one-tenth of 1% of our global energy demand? Well, this is for a variety of reasons. Solar panels require a large area of land and the technology to store energy from the sun that is not used has not been developed to maturity yet. Therefore, the unreliability of the weather, combined with the darkness of night makes it difficult to trust solar energy without a reliable storage solution. There is tons of research going into this and solar energy is definitely on the rise and can only improve… Now, to develop some sort of giant sun catcher…
Source: National Geographic
5) 99% of our solar system’s mass is the sun
Yep, the sun is SO dense that it is 99% of our solar system, which allows it to control the gravitational pull of the entire thing. Also, the type of star that our Sun is means that when it dies it will become a red giant and encase the earth as well as everything around it. But not to fear, that won’t happen for another 5 billion years, so still enough time to binge watch every episode of all the CSI shows (just about).
Source: The Ohio State University Department of Astronomy
Finally, Spaaaaacccee is awesome for inspiring this utter work of genius from the end of Portal 2…
(Warning – end of Portal 2 spoilers obviously!)