A Collection of Celestial Facts: Sun & Jupiter
Space and Astrology 8/30/11
By: Yona Williams
As astronomers worked with early telescopes, the largest celestial bodies were the first to be discovered. In this article, you will learn facts about Jupiter, the Sun, as well as an asteroid that you can see in the sky with the naked eye.
The largest planet in the Solar System is Jupiter Ã¢â‚¬â€œ so large that it could contain more than 1,000 Earths. When early telescopes were being developed, four of the many moons of the planet were the among the first ever discovered by Galileo in 1610. In 1979, more moons were identified when the space probe Voyager 2 was launched. It takes Jupiter 11 years and 314 days to orbit the Sun. One of the distinguishing characteristics of the planet is the Great Red Spot.
Situated 92,955,821 miles from the Earth, the Sun is more than 100 times larger than our planet. The composition of the Sun is mostly comprised of two light gases Ã¢â‚¬â€œ hydrogen and helium. The Sun is made up of 75% hydrogen and 23% helium. Other elements (like some metals) play a very small role in its makeup, such as gold. Helium was actually discovered in the Sun before it was even associated with the Earth. Interestingly, the Greek word for sun is helios. The Sun reaches a surface temperature of 5,880 K (Kelvin), but it can be 56,000,000 K at the core.
Believe it or not, the Sun is a star Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a fiery ball of glowing gases positioned at the center of the Solar System. Life of Earth depends on the intense energy and heat of the Sun. While it plays a significant role, there are actually billions of stars just like the Sun found all over the Milky Way galaxy.
The yellow surface of the Sun is called the photosphere.
The corona is the outermost layer of the Sun that extends millions of miles into space. The only time you can see this part of the star is during an eclipse. Solar eclipses are when the Moon is between the Sun and Earth. It blocks out the light, which leads to a partial or total eclipse. When this occurs, astronomers take the time to observe the corona in best detail.
The rotation of the Sun occurs once every 25.4 days, but because it is not solid, the poles spin at a different rate. This means that it can take as much as 36 days to complete a single revolution.
Asteroids are often referred to as 'minor planets.' Comprised of chunks of rock that orbit the Sun, they are typically found in what is known as the 'asteroid belt' that is located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. The fourth asteroid found in the sky was Vesta, which occurred in 1807. This celestial body is so bright that you can see it without using a telescope.