Space is vast and filled with the unknown. Thus, scientists are continuously learning new things about it. If you’ve always been intrigued by space, or you simply wish to learn some interesting facts about it, we’ve compiled a list of fascinating astronomy statistics to satisfy your curiosity.
But before diving into the details, here’s a brief introduction to the subject.
Astronomy is one of the oldest natural sciences. It studies celestial objects and phenomena like planets, moons, stars, galaxies, nebulae, and much more.
By using mathematics, chemistry, and physics, astronomy strives to explain the origin of these celestial objects and their evolution.
Now it’s time to look into the numbers and facts!
Top Astronomy Facts and Stats (Editor’s Choice)
- Our solar system is about 4.5 billion years old.
- The Moon is drifting away from Earth at a rate of 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) a year.
- A person who weighs 220 pounds (100 kg) on Earth would weigh only 84 pounds (34 kg) on Mars.
- Astronomers have made more than 1.4 million observations using the Hubble Space Telescope.
- Neutron stars rotate at a speed of 600 times per second.
- Scientists discovered a hydrogen signal from a galaxy located five billion light-years away.
- Saturn is made of 96% hydrogen.
- Enceladus reflects 90% of the Sun’s light.
Incredible Facts About Our Solar System
Our solar system consists of the Sun and every celestial object bound to it by gravity. It resides in the Milky Way Galaxy and includes planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.
It also includes dwarf planets like Pluto, many moons, and millions of asteroids, comets, and meteoroids.
We will go through plenty of fun, interesting astronomy facts, so strap in!
1. Our solar system is about 4.5 billion years old.
The universe we call home is located in an outer spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy. It consists of our star, the Sun, and everything bound to its gravity, such as the planets, moons, asteroids, comets, and meteoroids.
Various astronomy facts and information indicate that our solar system formed from a dense cloud of interstellar gas and dust.
Once the cloud collapsed, possibly due to a supernova of a nearby exploding star, it formed a solar nebula — the swirling disk of material.
The gravity at the center pulled more and more material in, and eventually, our Sun was born.
2. The largest asteroid in our solar system — Ceres — has a diameter of 580 miles (940 km).
In 1801, Giuseppe Piazzi discovered Ceres in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The asteroid contains roughly one-third of the entire asteroid belt’s mass.
Facts about our solar system show that Ceres is the only dwarf planet inside Neptune’s orbit and the largest object in the main asteroid belt.
3. The North Star changes every 26,000 years.
Earth’s axis goes through a process known as precession — a change in the orientation of a rotating body’s rotational axis.
Because of that, our perception of the north gradually shifts to different stars over a 26,000-year cycle.
Our ancestors began understanding astronomy millennia ago and used the North Star for navigation. Several thousand years ago, Vega was the North Star, and it will gain that status again in around 12,000 years.
However, in 26,000 years, Polaris will return to its original position as the Earth’s polar star.
4. Temperatures on Venus reach 880 degrees Fahrenheit (471 °C).
Even though Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun, Venus is the hottest planet in our solar system.
Various astronomer facts and observations show that Mercury’s temperature varies from the extreme 800 degrees Fahrenheit (430 °C) during the day to -290 degrees Fahrenheit (-180 °C) at night.
However, Venus has many gasses in its atmosphere that create a greenhouse effect and trap heat, keeping it at a cozy 880 degrees Fahrenheit (471 °C).
Believe it or not, according to the research by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Venus might have been habitable early in its history.
5. We have mapped nearly 100% of Mars’s surface.
(NASA, The Verge)
In fact, we know more about Mars’s surface than we do about Earth’s oceans. Oceans cover approximately 71% of Earth’s surface, and we’ve mapped only a fifth of the ocean floor so far.
However, thanks to the latest technology advancements, we have explored and mapped nearly 100% of Mars’s surface.
Granted, you can’t really call these crazy space facts, but they show that it is easier to send people into space than explore the oceans where pressure can reach eight tons per square inch.
6. The Moon is drifting away from Earth at a rate of 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) a year.
The speed at which the Moon pulls away from our planet isn’t constant. Around 4,500 million years ago, the Moon was pulling away at the speed of 8.2 inches (20.8 cm) a year.
Some of the Moon’s fastest retreat speeds caused the most significant geological changes on our planet, like the mass melting of glaciers or the supercontinents splitting apart.
Scientists believe that the Moon will eventually move out of the field of our planet’s gravity. Still, according to the latest astronomy facts and information available, that won’t happen for billions of years.
7. Mercury orbits the Sun at an average speed of 107,000 miles per hour (172,000 km/h).
Mercury is the fastest planet in our solar system, and it moves four times faster than Earth. With a diameter of 4880 kilometers, Mercury is the smallest planet in our solar system.
It is also the closest planet to the Sun. While one day on Mercury lasts approximately 58 Earth days, the speedy planet takes only 87.97 Earth days to complete one orbit.
Fascinating Astronomy Facts
Even though our solar system seems like a pretty big place, it represents only a tiny fraction of the entire universe.
Scientists estimate that our galaxy has approximately 100 billion solar systems, and more than 125 billion galaxies exist in the universe.
While many things about the universe are still unknown, scientists have learned quite a lot about all things outer space.
8. One light-year is about 6 trillion miles (9 trillion km).
Scientists from various fields of astronomy use light-years to measure the distance between celestial objects. It is the distance light travels in an Earth year.
Light travels at a speed of 186,000 miles per second (300,000 km/s), and one light-year is about 6 trillion miles (9 trillion km).
Since light needs so much time to reach us, whenever we are looking at celestial objects, we see them in the past.
For example, the Sun is 8.3 light minutes away from us, so each time we look at it, we always see it as it was 8.3 minutes ago.
9. A person who weighs 220 pounds (100 kg) on Earth would weigh only 84 pounds (34 kg) on Mars.
Physics plays a big part in understanding astronomy, especially when it comes to learning about other planets’ gravity. It helped us learn that Mars’ gravity is 62% lower than Earth’s.
Even though our planet has almost the same land surface as Mars, the red planet has only half the diameter and less density than Earth.
Mars has around 11% of Earth’s mass and 15% of our planet’s volume. Scientists use these numbers in calculations and take advantage of Mars’ gravity when sending droids to Mars, as it allows them to load the droids with more equipment.
10. Only 5% of the universe is actually visible.
(NASA, Space, Space)
According to well-known space facts, the universe comprises protons, neutrons, and electrons. The visible universe includes entire galaxies and celestial objects like planets, moons, asteroids, the Sun, and other stars.
Although the universe might seem big, visible galaxies make up only a small portion of it, while the rest is composed of dark energy and dark matter.
While scientists have collected a ton of useful astronomy information about space, little is known about these two. Dark matter is a mass that doesn’t emit light or energy and accounts for 27% of the entire universe.
In contrast, dark energy is a mysterious force that causes the expansion rate of our universe to accelerate over time and accounts for 68% of the universe.
11. Outer space is only 62 miles away.
In the 1900s, Hungarian physicist Theodore von Kármán determined an imaginary boundary of space to be 50 miles (80 km) above sea level.
However, a lot of politics and opinions are involved in determining where the exact boundary begins, so get ready for some astronomy trivia.
Organizations like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA, and the US Air Force generally use 62 miles (100 km) above sea level as the boundary.
Interestingly, NASA Mission Control places the line even higher, at 76 miles (122 km), because that’s when the atmospheric drag becomes noticeable.
12. There are three types of galaxies: spiral, elliptical, and irregular.
(Imagine the Universe)
Galaxies are classified by their shape, which is most likely due to their interactions with other galaxies.
There are many cool things in space, and galaxies are undoubtedly one of them. They consist of stars, interstellar gas, stellar remnants, dust, and dark matter, all bound by gravity.
Scientists estimate that billions of galaxies exist in the universe. When it comes to our own, we reside in the Milky Way, a spiral galaxy that belongs to a group of galaxies known as the Local Group.
13. Halley’s comet makes an appearance every 75–76 years.
Astronomers noticed Halley’s comet for the first time in 239 BC.
However, the English astronomer Edmond Halley understood that some reports of a comet approaching Earth from the previous years had actually been reappearances of the same comet and predicted it would come again in 1758.
According to solar system statistics, thousands of comets roam freely in our solar system, but Hailey’s comet is unquestionably the best-known one.
The comet is visible to the naked eye, and it was last spotted in 1986. The comet’s next perihelion will be on July 28, 2061, so make sure you don’t miss it.
14. The entire asteroid belt’s total mass is just 3% of the Moon’s mass.
The asteroid belt is a region in the solar system located between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars.
According to mind-blowing and crazy space facts, the region is home to 1.1 to 1.9 million asteroids larger than 0.6 miles (1 km) in diameter and millions of smaller ones.
However, the greatest part of the asteroid belt’s mass comes from several big ones, like Vesta, Pallas, and Hygiea, with diameters less than 600 kilometers.
Ceres, which is 950 km in diameter and the largest asteroid in the region, accounts for 25% of the asteroid belt’s entire mass.
15. You can see eight different galaxies using nothing but the naked eye.
The Local Group of galaxies that includes our very own Milky Way comprises more than 30 galaxies.
Interestingly, some of the coolest things in space can be observed using nothing but the naked eye, such as the Milky Way, the Andromeda Galaxy, the Triangulum Galaxy, the Sculptor Galaxy, and Centaurus A.
You can also observe Bode’s Galaxy under exceptional conditions, or both Magellanic Clouds if you’re in the southern hemisphere.
16. Astronomers have made more than 1.4 million observations using the Hubble Space Telescope.
The Hubble Space Telescope is one of the most productive scientific instruments ever built. It was launched on April 24, 1990, and it explores the universe from Earth’s orbit.
According to the latest data from NASA regarding the Hubble Telescope, astronomers have published more than 18,000 scientific papers using astronomy information and data from the telescope — a number that continues to grow.
The telescope is as big as a school bus and weighs as two adult elephants. It orbits the Earth at a speed of 17,000 miles per hour (27,000 km/h).
17. Voyager 1 is located around 14.1 billion miles (22.8 billion km) from the Sun.
There are many cool things in space, and some of them are even human-made objects like Voyager 1. More than 8000 satellites have been launched into space, but Voyager 1 is the most distant human-made object.
NASA launched the space probe on September 5, 1977, with the goal to study the outer solar system. Its main transmitter radiates around 22 watts, which is comparable to a refrigerator light bulb.
Signals from the probe need more than 20 hours to reach our planet, and by the time they reach Earth, they have a power of only one nanowatt.
Fun Facts About Stars
Stars are gigantic celestial bodies made mostly out of hydrogen and helium. They can live for billions and billions of years, and while they do, they produce light and emit heat, just like our Sun.
At the end of their life cycle, stars’ cores become so dense that they collapse under their gravity and explode in a detonation known as a supernova, becoming white dwarfs, neutron stars, or even black holes.
18. The Milky Way contains around 100 million stars.
(European Space Agency)
However, according to the newest stars statistic, this number is only an estimate, and we are still unable to say for certain how many stars exist in our galaxy.
Things get even trickier when we try to calculate the number of stars in the universe.
When trying to calculate the approximate number, scientists first take the number of stars in our galaxy and multiply it by the number of observable galaxies in the universe, which is about 125 billion.
19. Neutron stars are about 1.4 times the mass of the Sun.
Neutron stars are one of the most fascinating and weirdest things found in space. Apart from black holes and some hypothetical celestial objects like white holes and quark stars, neutron stars are the densest known class of stellar objects.
They are formed when a star dies and after its core collapses under gravitational pull. Depending on their former size, they can become either white dwarfs or neutron stars.
According to numerous stars statistics and data obtained by astronomers, our Sun is only an average-sized star, so it would become a white dwarf.
However, other, much bigger stars become neutron stars, and they are so dense that just a teaspoon of star material can weigh 4 billion tons, which is approximately as much as the entire human population.
20. Sun makes up 99% of our entire solar system’s mass.
One of many interesting facts about our star is that it has been shining for 4.6 billion years. It is made of dense gas, mostly ionized hydrogen and ionized helium.
Its average density is about 3,086 pounds (1,400 kg) per cubic meter, which is 40% more than water density. The Sun’s mass is the reason it dominates all the planets in our solar system regarding gravitation.
21. It takes Sun 25 to 35 days to make one full rotation.
For us, one full rotation of our planet equals one day. When it comes to the Sun’s rotation, the process is known as solar rotation, and it was first detected by observing the motion of the Sun’s sunspots.
However, because of numerous astronomy facts and information, we know that stars are composed mostly of gasses and aren’t solid bodies like our planet.
For that reason, solar rotation varies by latitude, and different latitudes rotate at different periods. In other words, the Sun rotates once every 35 days at its poles and once every 24.47 days at its equator.
22. The Sun produces about 384.6 septillion watts of energy — equivalent of 1,820,000,000 Tsar Bombs.
Facts about our solar system show that the Sun releases energy at a mass-energy conversion rate of 4.26 million metric tons per second. In other words, more energy from the Sun hits our planet every hour than we consume in a year.
Around 430 quintillion Joules of energy reach the Earth every hour, which is still significantly higher than the 410 quintillion Joules the entire planet uses every year.
23. Neutron stars rotate at a speed of 600 times per second.
Neutron stars are undoubtedly some of the more interesting types of stars. They are possible evolutionary end-points of high mass stars.
They are extreme objects that measure between 6 to 12 miles (10 and 20 km) across and are tremendously dense in mass — imagine squeezing an object twice the Sun’s mass into a small city.
When born, neutron stars can rotate up to at least 60 times per second, and under specific circumstances, they can increase that speed to a mind-boggling 600 times per second.
Interesting Things About Space
The universe is abundant with information. Astronomers are continuously learning new things about space, and so far, they have made a ton of cool and bizarre discoveries about it.
24. Venus has around 1,600 volcanoes.
Venus has more volcanoes than any other planet in our solar system, even though most of them are long extinct. The largest volcano on Venus is Maat Mons.
It is a massive shield volcano, and it rises 5 miles (8 km) above the planetary radius.
Even though many fields of astronomy are continuously studying Venus, and some recent studies indicate that the planet still might have active volcanoes, the data is still incomplete.
Regardless, scientists can agree that volcanism played a significant role in shaping Venus’ surface because approximately 90% of it is covered in basalt, and 65% of the planet consists of volcanic lava plains.
25. Olympus Mons — the tallest mountain in our solar system — is 374 miles (624 km) in diameter.
(Smithsonian Magazine, NASA)
Thanks to some fun astronomy facts, we know that Olympus Mons is approximately the size of Arizona. The mountain’s located on Mars, and it is the planet’s largest volcano and the biggest mountain in our solar system.
Furthermore, Mount Everest is like a tiny hill compared to Olympus Mons; the mountain’s peak is 16 miles (25 km) high, making it nearly three times taller than Mount Everest.
26. The Whirlpool Galaxy is around 76,000 light-years in diameter.
Even though we have only scratched the surface when it comes to understanding astronomy, astronomers are already studying distant stars and galaxies.
The Whirlpool Galaxy, also known as Messier 51a and NGC 5194, is estimated to be 31 million light-years away from our planet.
It lies in the constellation Canes Venatici and is the first celestial object to be classified as a spiral galaxy.
Astronomers suspect that its spiral structure is primarily due to its gravitational interaction with a smaller galaxy NGC 5195.
The galaxy is approximately 76,000 light-years in diameter, and it lies in the constellation Canes Venatici.
The Whirlpool galaxy is one of the brightest galaxies in the sky, and it can easily be seen during dark sky conditions with a small telescope or even a pair of good binoculars.
27. Sagittarius B2 is located 390 light-years from the center of our galaxy.
(Scientific American, IFL Science)
Astronomers from the Max Planck Institute uncovered one of the fun facts about space when they used the IRAM radio telescope to study Sagittarius B2 — a dust cloud near the center of our galaxy.
They learned that it is composed of several chemicals, one of them being ethyl formate, which is the dominant flavor in raspberries and rum.
There are many other smells in our galaxy and, according to some more unusual space facts, Apollo astronauts who walked the Moon reported that the smell that got into their spacesuits was similar to gunpowder.
At the same time, scientists found out that Saturn’s moon, Triton, smelled like gasoline.
28. On Mars, the temperature at your feet can be 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 °C), while the temperature around your head is 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 °C).
According to some rather funny facts about astronomy, you could be both warm and freezing at the same time on Mars. Since the planet’s atmosphere is so thin, the heat from the Sun easily escapes the planet.
If you stood on Mars’s surface on the equator at noon, the temperature at your feet would be 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 °C).
At the same time, the temperature around your head would be only 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 °C).
29. Scientists discovered a hydrogen signal from a galaxy located five billion light-years away.
A team of scientists using the Very Large Array of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in New Mexico discovered a new galaxy when they picked up a signal that originated from a source that was five billion light-years away.
Due to multiple facts about our solar system, we know that it is 4.5 billion light-years old, which means that the signal started its journey when our planet hadn’t even existed.
30. The first-ever photographed black hole is three million times the size of Earth.
(National Geographic, Space)
By using the Event Horizon Telescope, a network of eight linked telescopes scattered across Earth, scientists have managed to capture an image of a black hole for the very first time.
The black hole is more than 50 million light-years away, and it is located at the center of the Messier 87 galaxy.
It is 24 billion miles (38 billion km) across, and it has a mass equal to 6.5 billion times the mass of the Sun.
Cool Facts About Planets
Planets are large celestial objects that orbit a star. Some of them even freely roam the universe!
While we know that our solar system has eight planets, scientists aren’t exactly sure how many planets exist in the universe, and some speculate that there is a quintillion of them — that’s the number followed by 18 zeros.
31. One day on Venus takes 225 Earth days.
Venus is one of the most captivating celestial bodies in our solar system and the main culprit for a ton of weird space facts.
Namely, because the planet has an extremely slow axis rotation rate, Venus takes 225 Earth days to complete one rotation around the Sun, but only 243 Earth days to complete one full cycle.
In other words, one day on Venus is longer than one year on Venus.
Since Venus rotates in the direction opposite of its orbital revolution around the Sun and it takes 117 Earth days to complete one day-night cycle, the Sun rises twice a year on Venus, which is technically on the same day.
32. Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is 10,160 miles (16,350 km) in diameter.
The Great Red Spot is one of the coolest but also weirdest things found in space. It is a persistent high-pressure region on Jupiter that produces an anticyclonic storm with wind speeds up to 268 miles per hour (432 km/h).
However, although once it could fit three Earths, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot has been shrinking and growing taller.
33. A day on Mars lasts for 24 hours, 39 minutes, and 35 seconds.
(Royal Museums Greenwich)
According to various solar system statistics, astronomers have calculated how long it takes for each planet to complete a full cycle or one rotation.
When it comes to Mars, a day on this planet is referred to as “sol,” and it is slightly longer than the Earth’s solar day.
At the same time, one sidereal day on Mars is 24 hours, 37 minutes, and 22 seconds, while it is 23 hours, 46 minutes, and 4 seconds on Earth.
Additionally, because Mars orbits the Sun a lot slower than Earth, one year on Mars lasts for 687 days.
34. Pluto has a diameter of 1,473 miles (2,370 km).
Understanding astronomy is a process, and astronomers often change their views based on the latest data available. Unfortunately, that didn’t go so well for Pluto, as it was demoted to a dwarf planet in 2006.
However, despite being smaller than the United States, Pluto is still one of the largest members of the Kuiper Belt — a zone beyond Neptune’s orbit.
Most of its surface is covered in methane and nitrogen ice. Because of that and its distance from the Sun, Pluto is one of the coldest places in our solar system, and the average temperature on the planet is minus 375 degrees Fahrenheit (-255 °C).
35. The atmospheric pressure on Venus is 92 times the Earth’s atmospheric pressure.
(Science X, Smithsonian Magazine, BBC Earth)
Many weird space facts confirm Venus is one of the least hospitable places in our solar system. The planet’s atmospheric pressure could cause anyone standing on the planet to be crushed by the atmosphere alone.
Not only that, but Venus’s atmosphere is extremely toxic as it consists of 96.5% carbon dioxide, 3.5% nitrogen, and other gases like sulfur dioxide.
That’s not the end of it. Apart from raining sulfuric acid, the winds on Venus can reach speeds of up to 186.4 miles per hour (300 km/h), and it snows metal on this planet.
At least, the planet’s scorching heat evaporates the “rain” before it can even reach the planet’s surface.
36. Saturn is made of 96% hydrogen.
(NASA, Universe Today)
According to some funny facts about astronomy, Saturn could easily float in water; if you’re able to provide a bathtub big enough, considering that the planet has a diameter of 72,000 miles (116,000 km).
Namely, despite being the second-largest planet, Saturn is the lightest planet in our solar system. The planet is made out of 96% hydrogen, 3% helium, and 1% other gases like methane, ammonia, ethane, and similar.
37. Neptune takes 165 Earth years to complete a single rotation.
From its discovery in 1846, Neptune completed only one orbit around the Sun in 2011.
According to some rather crazy space facts, the planet takes more than a century and a half to complete a single rotation, even though a day on it is only 16 hours long.
Neptune is the eighth planet in our solar system and the fourth-largest by size, with a radius of 15,299.4 miles (24.622 km). Because of the way it orbits the Sun, Neptune is sometimes even farther from the Sun than Pluto.
38. Our galaxy contains billions and trillions of rogue planets.
Planets that orbit around stars outside of our solar system are known as exoplanets. Moreover, cool facts about planets show that some of them even wander through space without a parent star.
These planets are known as rogue planets, and they were ejected from a planetary system where they formed or weren’t gravitationally bound to any star in the first place.
Even our galaxy, the Milky Way, is home to billions and trillions of rogue planets.
Remarkable Facts About Moons
Moons are celestial bodies that orbit around planets. They come in different shapes, colors, and sizes.
Some of them even have their atmospheres or hidden oceans beneath their surfaces. One thing’s sure — moons are as fascinating as space itself.
39. Iapetus takes 79 days to orbit around Saturn.
Iapetus is one of 82 known Saturn moons and probably one of the coolest things in space. It is known as the yin-yang moon because one of its sides is dark while the other is extremely bright.
Several theories have tried to explain why one of Iapetus’s sides is much darker than the other, and the most probable answer is due to thermal segregation.
Because of its slow rotation, Iapetus’s dark material absorbs the heat and warms up much faster than the bright icy material, leading to its two-color dichotomy.
According to other astronomy facts and information, scientists theorize that Saturn’s other moon, Phoebe, emits a steady stream of particles that hit Iapetus.
Since Phoebe revolves around Saturn clockwise and Iapetus revolves counterclockwise, this would explain why Iapetus is only partially dark.
40. Mercury and Venus have zero moons.
According to solar system statistics, our solar system has 176 confirmed moons and many more awaiting confirmation. Although planets like Saturn and Jupiter have 82 and 79 moons, Venus and Mercury have none.
As Mercury is so close to the Sun, it wouldn’t be able to hold onto its moon, as the moon would either crash into Mercury or get pulled by the Sun’s gravity.
However, when it comes to Venus, the reason it has no moon is a complete mystery to the scientists.
41. Enceladus reflects 90% of the Sun’s light.
Enceladus is one of Saturn’s smaller moons. It is as wide as Arizona and about 310 miles (500 km) across. According to some rather fun facts about the solar system, the moon is the most reflective body in our solar system.
Because its icy surface is exceptionally smooth and bright white in some places, Enceladus reflects most of the Sun’s light, which causes its surface temperature to drop to about -330 degrees Fahrenheit (-201 °C).
42. Jupiter has 79 known moons.
Out of that number, 53 moons are named, while 26 await confirmation. According to our solar system statistics, Ganymede, one of Jupiter’s moons, is the largest moon in our solar system.
It has a diameter of 3,273 miles (5,268 km) and is even bigger than Mercury.
It is also the only moon known to have its own internally generated magnetic field. Interestingly, Europa, another Jupiter’s moon, might be the best place to look for a “habitable zone” where life could exist.
43. Uranus has 27 confirmed moons.
Uranus is the seventh planet of our solar system. The latest data and fun facts about space reveal that it has moons as big as Titania — 981 miles (1,579 km) in diameter and as tiny as Cupid — only 11 miles (18 km) in diameter.
We hadn’t known much about Uranus’ moons until 1986 when Voyager 2 found a whole system of the planet’s moons.
Even though no spacecraft has visited Uranus ever since Voyager 2, scientists uncovered new moons with improved telescope technology and techniques, and the latest Uranus’s moons, Mab, Cupid, and Margaret, were discovered in 2003.
44. Triton, Neptune’s largest satellite, has a diameter of 1,680 miles (2,710 km).
Triton is Neptune’s moon and one of the cool things found in space. It is the only large moon in our solar system that orbits its planet in the opposite direction of the planet’s rotation, and scientists are unsure why.
Because of its retrograde orbit and composition similar to Pluto’s, scientists thought that Triton is a dwarf planet.
They predict that it will move so close to Neptune a million years from now that tidal forces will rip Triton apart.
As that happens, the remnants of the moon will form bright new rings around Neptune.
Interesting Facts About Astronomers
You can do a variety of jobs related to astronomy. However, probably all of us have wondered at one point in our lives what it would be like to become an astronaut and fly into space.
Here are some interesting astronaut and astronomy trivia regarding those who decided to pursue their dreams and join space exploration programs.
45. Astronauts’ footprints on the Moon will stay there for millions of years.
Unlike our planet, the Moon has no atmosphere. That means it has no rivers or winds to wash away the footprints Apollo’s astronauts left.
However, according to space facts, the astronauts’ traces will eventually erode because the Moon has a dynamic environment and is continuously being bombarded by meteorites.
46. Buzz Aldrin was the second man on the Moon.
Buzz Aldrin set foot on the Moon on July 21, 1969, just 19 minutes after Neil Armstrong. While there is a lot of interesting information on astronomers and their professional careers, a ton of fun info comes from their personal lives.
Namely, did you know that Aldrin’s mother’s maiden name was Moon? She changed her last name later on when she married Edwin Eugene Aldrin.
Buzz got his nickname from his sister’s mispronunciation of the word “brother.” He legally changed his first name to Buzz in 1988.
In total, 12 people have walked on the Moon’s surface, with the last ones being members of Apollo 17, Eugene Cernan, and Harrison Schmitt.
47. Astronauts can grow up to 2 inches (5 cm) taller in space.
Studies have shown that when the spine is not exposed to Earth’s gravity, the vertebra can relax and expand, which can cause astronauts to grow up to 3% taller while living in microgravity.
For example, someone who’s 6-foot-tall (1.80 m) can gain up to 2 inches (5 cm) while in orbit.
However, according to astronomer facts and observations, the change is not permanent, and astronauts return to their regular height after a few months.
48. Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman in space.
We all know that Yuri Gagarin was the first man in space, but did you know that the first woman in space was also Russian? Valentina Tereshkova flew into space on June 16, 1963, just two years after Gagarin.
According to some rather interesting facts about astronomers, Tereshkova spent nearly three days in space and orbited Earth 48 times.
Interestingly, before she was selected for the Soviet space program, Tereshkova was a textile factory worker and an amateur skydiver.
To this day, she has remained the youngest woman who has gone to space on a solo mission.
What Can We Tell from These Astronomy Statistics?
As you can see, the universe is pretty gigantic, and even though we know a good deal about it, space still hides many mysteries.
To learn more about it, scientists are continuously finding new ways to study the universe by improving existing technologies and creating new processes and software to understand the universe better.
The universe hides millions more cool facts about stars, planets, and galaxies that we are yet to uncover.
And while it can take years or even centuries before we can understand everything there is to know about the universe, one thing’s certain — space is simply awesome.
Frequently Asked Questions
Astronomy is a science that studies everything outside of the Earth’s atmosphere, such as stars, planets, galaxies, asteroids, and the properties of these celestial bodies.
The main difference between astronomy and astrology is that astronomers based their studies on research, observation, facts, and data, while astrology is the belief that the positioning of stars and planets affects humans and the natural world.
The study of astronomy contributes to technology, economy, and society by continuously pushing the envelope and pursuing new and better instruments, processes, and software beyond our current capabilities.
Moreover, the fruits of scientific and technological development in astronomy and some astronomy applications like personal computers, GPS, mobile phones, solar panels, and many others have become essential to our day-to-day life.
However, even though the study of astronomy has provided a wealth of tangible and technological gains, the importance of astronomy is not measured by its economic contribution but rather by the manner it revolutionizes our thinking on a worldwide scale.
Unfortunately, astronomy is not in high demand. While the astronomer job market is expected to grow by 10% until 2026, this career choice has a poor employability rate.
Astronomy is a small field, and over the next five years, researchers are projecting that the US will need only 5,800 new astronomers. The number is based on additional 200 astronomers and the retirement of 5,600 existing ones.
NASA stands for National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and it is a US government agency. While many astronomers work at NASA, most astronomers work as professors at colleges and universities or for companies that work with NASA.
Astronomy is one of the few sciences in which amateurs play an active role, and some amateur astronomers have helped with numerous important discoveries.
The primary goal of any astronomer is to study stars, planets, and space. Contrary to popular belief, astronomers don’t sit in front of telescopes all the time. Instead, they use computers to access and analyze data and photos created by high-powered cameras attached to large space telescopes.
They analyze data, write research papers, or create computer programs that introduce more effective ways to search for and collect data. They also manipulate and plot the data and theoretical models on computers to uncover mysteries of the universe.
On average, astronomers in the US earn around $114,661. The salaries range from $112,839 to $132,306, depending on education, certifications, additional skills, and years spent working as an astronomer.
Of course, salaries also depend on the type of job you’re doing. According to various job-searching and astronomy statistics, the highest paying astronomy jobs are physicist, astrophysicist, astronomer, and aeronautical engineer.
- Buzz Aldrin
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