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Welcome to the Space Homepage!
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Look at our table about Mars. Astronomers think that the universe began with a big bang, just like a race. The clusters of galaxies and the lonely galaxies in between clusters are all running away from each other. The galaxies furthest from us are the ones that are travelling the fastest. Quasers are the fastest travellers and this is why they are so far away from us.
The Big Bang
A bright colourful cluster of red and yellow stars is superimposed on a very distant, diffuse cluster of white stars in the very large Magellanic Cloud, almost 170,000 light years from Earth. The red and yellow cluster taking up most of the frame, is almost 50 million years old. The white cluster is only 4 million years old, is in the same area as us, less than 200 light years away. It might have been created by supernovale in the older cluster.
Seven years after a star's 1987 explosion in the large Magellanic Cloud galaxy a new view shows three rings. Astronomers have a suspicion that the two big rings mark where unltraviolet radiation from the supernova illuminates a thin hour-glass shaped bubble of gas and dust produced 10,000 to 20,000 years ago by a dying star. A smaller bright ring of material circles its equator.
Our Sun not only sends out light and heat, it also sends out waves of energy called radio waves. We use the same kind of waves to send signals from a transmitter to a radio receiver. Most stars send out radio waves, but some send out more.
About 20 years ago, radio astronomers discovered a new type of star. It sends out short bursts or pulses of radio waves. The time between pulses ranges from a fraction of a second to almost four seconds.
A comet is a large lump of frozen gas mixed with bits of dust. When the comet goes near the sun the frozen part melts. The part of the comet that doesn't melt is called the nucleus. Together they fom the head. The tail is created by solar wind which blows the gas and dust particles into one or two long curved tails. This creates a shooting star.
A throbbing or pulstating star will change its brightness because it is changing in size. This means because everything in the star is not quite balanced. The forces of gravity causes the star to get smaller. As it does so the centre is squeezed tighter and it gets hotter. More heat is made from the nuclear furnace. This heat cannot get out quickly enough so the outer layers of the star expands. As a result of this changing some stars actually change their brightness over the same range of time.
Many stars seem to come in pairs, like twins. Some stars even come in triplets or quadruplets.
Even though these twin or triplets were formed at the same time, they're often very different. Sometimes a giant orange star is twinned with a mediium sized blue star. Sometimes a yellow star like our sun is matched with a white dwarf.
Twin stars dance with each other. If one star is heavier than the other, the lighter one will orbit the heavier one. It they are more or less the same weight as each other then they will orbit the same point in the sky.
When the Cartwheel Galaxy collided with the constellation 'Sculptor' it unleashed a shock-wave which damaged the Cartwheel Galaxy, turning it for the better and makking spiral arms visible as faint spokes. A ring of billions of stars were formed from the matter hit by the shock wave which was travelling at 200,000 mph. Astronomers have just recently identified it as an 'in the galactic hit-and-run'.
The earth and eight other planets - Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto orbit the sun. The length of time it takes for each of them to complete its orbit depends on its distance from the sun. For example, Mercury which is nearest the sun takes 88 days and Pluto which is farthest takes 295 years.
The Solar System
A satellite is a planet or spacecraft that orbits another planet or spacecraft that orbits another planet. As the earth orbits the sum, the earth's satellite, the moon is oribiting it. Most of the other planets also have moons. For example, 16 moons orbit Jupiter.
Millions of miles out in space there is a gigantic ball of hot, glowing gas. We call this the sun. It is our closest star. It's official name is 'Sol' which came from the ancient Sun God. From the name sol comes our word 'solar'. The sun is enormous! At least 1,300,000 planets the size of earth could be packed into it and yet there would be more room left over. But a big as the sun is, there are other stars much, much bigger. The sun is really a kind of giant nuclear furnace in which the temperature is abut 15,000,000 deg. centigrade.
The sun is 150 million kilometres from earth and that is why it looks like a little ball to us.
As the earth whirls along on its endless journey through space. It has a companion that is always beside it - the moon. The moon is a small planet. It is only one quarter the size of the earth. The moon is our nearest neighbour in space. The stars are thousands of millions of kilometres away. The sun is millions of kilometres away. The moon is only 384,000 kilometres away. That makes the moon trully our next door neighbour. The moon is pulled towards the earth by gravity. The moon orbits the earth. A planet that orbits another planet like this is called a satellite. The moon is earth's satellite.
Sometiems a very exciting event takes place during the day. The sky starts to get dark while the sun is still in the sky. Normally, sunlight passing through the leaves of trees causes a little circle of light on the ground - a small image of the sun. Now the circle is not complete. It looks like a biscuit with a bite taken out of it. Gradually the bite gets bigger and the sky darkens even more. Eventually, it is as dark as night. Where the moon ought to be and where the sun was, there is only a dark circle. Around this circle there is a pale fuzzy ring. it is so dark you can also see the stars in the sky. We call this event a total eclipse of the sun or a solar eclipse. There are also lunal eclipses when the earth blocks out the moon.
As a total eclipse progresses it becomes almost time for totality. When the moon covers the entire sun. Just as the last part of the sun's blinding disc passes behind the moon, the last curved part of the disc seems to become broken into a series of bright spots. These vary in size and brightness and have dark irregular gaps between them. they appear up to about 10 seconds before totality. They look like shiny pearls on a necklace or a string of glowing beads - 'Baily's Beads'.
In the sun's family thre are giant planets such as Jupiter and Saturn and thre are also dwarf planets. These small planets are called astroids. Most of the astroids circle the sun in a ring between Mars and Jupiter. There are thousands of them. Most are less than 2 kilometres long. Some are several kilometres long. The larger astroids were nearly ball-shaped, like the bigger planets. The smaller ones are very lumpy. The smaller astroids could be pieces off a bigger one. Astroids often collide with each other and shatter to pieces. Such collisions made the craters on the Moon, Mars and Mercury.
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