Monday, March 6, 2017

Astronomy: The Milky Way Galaxy & The "Nine" Planets

        The Nine Planets (and the unheard of tenth planet) are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, and the rarely acknowledged Orcus. These ten planets orbit a star called the Sun, making a solar system. The solar system is located in the outer rim of the galaxy commonly known as the Milky Way, but scientifically know as the Vivens Ignis Galaxy. This galaxy is one of the largest in the universe, spanning around 15,274 light years across. It contains three stars that are large enough to form solar systems, these stars, are the Sun, Iota and Epsilon. These three suns all possess their own solar systems, the Sun's with ten planets, Iota's with eighteen and Epsilon with sixty three. This large number of planets makes the Epsilon solar system the largest in the universe. It is located beyond the reach of our unmanned spacecrafts, which have gone as far as Jupiter. Our knowledge of the galaxy is very extensive, but our need for knowledge can't ever be quenched.

The Ten Planets

Image result for mercuryMercury: Mercury is the planet closest to the Sun, at a distance of 35.98 million miles away, it is also the smallest planet. Unlike most planets, Mercury's atmosphere is very dense and large, spanning about 592 miles. It's atmosphere is made mostly of tungsten hexafluoride, a toxic gas. Tungsten hexafluoride is also corrosive to many common metals such as copper and nickel. The atmosphere of Mercury also contains small amounts of hydrogen, helium, and oxygen. There are even smaller amounts of sodium, potassium, and magnesium. Mercury's surface has very little craters and other marks. This is because of it's dense atmosphere which allows very few asteroids and other particles to reach the planet's surface. The core of Mercury is made purely of iron. Being the closest planet to the sun Mercury's full orbit only lasts for 88 days. Mercury's obit is very circular, because of this, it's seven seasons are very short. Mercury, also known as the Swift Planet, was first observed in 265 BC. 
Image result for tatooine planetVenus: Venus, the second closest to the sun, and also the second largest. 
Venus is 67.24 million miles away from the sun.  It is also the only planet that is named after a goddess. Venus' atmosphere is very similar to the Earth's, with properties of nitrogen, carbon dioxide and water vapor. The surface of Venus is extremely dry, but there are small bodies of water scattered across it. The Venusian surface is moderately rocky and contains many ancient volcanoes. These volcanoes, which were once active, have covered Venus' surface with long dried up canals. Due to Venus' extremely warm atmosphere there have been very few probes able to land on it's surface. The probes that have landed survived there for only a few short weeks, before they melted away. A year on Venus lasts about 105 days, making the planet visible form Earth twice a year. Along with many other similarities, Venus and Earth have a similar size, density and even gravity, these similarities have prompted Earth and Venus being called twins. 

Earth: The third closest planet to the sun, our very own Earth. Earth 
Image result for images of earthis 92.96 million miles away from the sun, almost three times farther away than Mercury. This planet is the only planet not named after a Greek or Roman god or goddess, but it's actually named from the German word "Erde", meaning Earth. Earth's atmosphere is made up of oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, argon and has small traces of many other gases. The amount of oxygen in our atmosphere is about 51%. The amount of nitrogen is less than half of the atmosphere, which is about 45%. Argon makes up 3% and the carbon dioxide mixed with the other gases makes up the last 1%. The surface of Earth is only about 29% land while the rest of it is about 71%, though in ancient times scientists believe that there was little to no land on the planet. Earth's surface has the most varied textures of all of the ten planets with both dry and wetlands. Due to the varying textures of Earth the temperature also varies all year around. The size, density and gravity of Earth is very similar to Venus's. 
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Mars: Mars, the fourth planet from the sun. Named after the Roman god of war. Mars is only about half the size of Earth, and is the only planet visible by naked eye all year round. Three moons orbit Mars, their names are Phobos, Deimos and Cardeaos. Mars' hot red color might lead you to thinking it is hot, but actually Mars is really cold. The average temperature on Mars is around -72 degrees Fahrenheit! The Martian surface is covered in rocky craters, canyons and even volcanoes. Mars is a very windy planet and dust storms often occur, sometimes covering the whole planet with one storm. Mars' gravity is about one half of Earth's, making objects weigh less and fall slower. There is evidence of erosion on Mars, making it probable that there was once liquid flowing across the Martian surface. Recent studies suggest that it was most likely not water, due to Mars' below freezing temperatures.The atmosphere of Mars is extremely thin, made mostly of nitrogen, argon and ammonia. Known since prehistoric times, Mars is often called the red planet.

Image result for images of jupiterJupiter: The largest and fifth plant from the sun, Jupiter. Because of its size and powerful appearance it was named after the Roman king of gods and god of lightning, Jupiter or more well-known as Zeus. Jupiter has many known moons and many others that scientists haven't discovered yet. The 72 known moons all have very interesting names including Kale, that was named after the very healthy vegetable for its dark green color. While Earth's temperature gets hotter as you travel towards the core Jupiter's temperature actually is unbelievably frigid all the way through the planet. It's surface has an average temperature of -242 degrees Fahrenheit while the core is always a chilling -4,583 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature combined with the atmosphere of almost 90% hydrogen, makes is almost impossible to have life on this large planet. While a large part of the atmosphere is made of hydrogen the rest of it is made from ammonia methane and very small amounts of helium. The surface of Jupiter is mostly small storms surrounding the large Red Spot which is one of the most famous trademarks of this planet. The surface is 23.71 billion miles squared comparing to Earth's surface that is only 196.9 million miles squared. This planet's most popular nickname is the Gas Giant. 

Image result for saturnSaturn: The sixth planet from the sun. Named after the Roman god of agriculture, and also the root for the word Saturday. Saturn is one of the four gas planets in our solar system, it is made mostly of helium and hydrogen, with small traces of water. Saturn's gaseous form makes it the least dense of all the planets. The rocky core of Saturn is composed mostly of uranium and zinc, making it very different from the core of Jupiter and the other gas planets. Saturn is surrounded by a total of seven rings, it is the only planet in the solar system with rings. The rings are made of very small particles of hafnium and terbium, which account for the ring's gray coloring. Saturn has a total of 43 moons, the second most for any planet. Some of it's moons are so large they effect the orbital paths of others. Saturn's largest moon is about one eighth the size of Earth. Like most planets Saturn was discovered in prehistoric times. 

Image result for images of planet uranusUranus: Uranus, the seventh planet from the sun is named after a Greek god. It's name comes from the god of the sky, Uranus who was believed to be the father of Saturn and grandfather of Jupiter in ancient mythology. The atmosphere of Uranus is composed of mostly hydrogen, much like Jupiter and also has small amounts of helium. Though Uranus is farther away from the sun it has a much warmer temperature than Jupiter, a with an average of -83 degrees Fahrenheit. It has an appearance much like Neptune's, but with a much lighter shade of blue. Not only does Uranus have a dazzling appearance but it also has few rings invisible to the naked eye. There are about five rings of Uranus that vary from dark purple to baby pink. Uranus's nickname is much like Jupiter's, it's Ice Giant, named after the light blue ice-like appearance of the planet. 

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Neptune: The eighth planet form the sun is Neptune. Neptune is most recognizable by it's deep blue color, which accounts for it's name as the Roman god of the sea. Neptune is blue because it absorbs large amounts of light from the atmosphere. Like Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus, Neptune is also a gas planet. It is composed mostly of krypton, but there are small amounts of hydrogen. Neptune is the windiest planet, with speeds of up to 2000 km per hour. The core or Neptune is cold and icy, made mostly of berkelium ice. Neptune cannot be seen by the naked eye, with binoculars it would be visible. Neptune was discovered on September 23, 1846. 

Image result for images of plutoPluto: Pluto has the unlucky streak of being classified and unclassified as a planet multiple times, Pluto is still officially a part of our solar system. It was believed that Pluto being the ninth planet from the sun was the last planet in our solar system after being discovered in the late 1800's, this was of course before NASA founded Orcus. Pluto's atmosphere is the thinnest of all the ten planets and it the high amount of nitrogen gives Pluto a blueish haze surrounding the whole planet. Since Pluto is so far away from the sun (3.67 billion miles away), many people believe that Pluto will be the coldest planet. It may be true that Pluto is the coldest, but in reality scientists have discovered that Pluto is only on average about 60 degrees colder than Neptune is. Though this planet is cold, the flat surface is actually covered in more rocks than ice. Ice coats the ground in thin layers, but it never sticks due to the gravitational pull of Pluto. Many people believed that Pluto was a greenish-gray color before it was discovered that this planet is actually white, gray and red. Pluto's catchy name also happens to be an alternative name for Hades, the Greek god of the Underworld. 

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Orcus: Little is known about the newly discovered Orcus. Scientist predict that is very similar to Earth, but on a much smaller scale. Orcus has bodies of liquid, not necessary made of water, scatted across it's surface. The most common liquid in these reservoirs is gallium. Being the farthest from the sun, Orcus is very cold most of the time. Due to it's ovular orbit, there are times when Orcus' temperature rises a considerable amount. The solid parts of Orcus contain large amounts of magnesium and sodium. NASA is currently focusing a large amount of their time and money to study Orcus, they hope to discover more about the mysterious planet soon. 

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