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Space Trivia

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The first pulsar (a celestial object that emits brief, sharp pulses of radio waves instead of the steady radiation associated with other natural sources), discovered in 1967, never varies in its timing by even as much as a hundred-millionth of a second. Its pulse is registered every 1.33730109 seconds.

Light takes one-tenth of a second to travel from New York to London, 8 minutes to reach the Earth from the Sun, and 4.3 years to reach Earth from the nearest star.

The Tarantula nebula is thought to contain a huge star of over 1,000 times the mass of the Sun, ten times more massive than any star in the Milky Way.

The first spacecraft to send back pictures of the far side of the Moon was Luna 3 in October 1959. The photographs covered about 70 percent of the far side.

Liquid water was found inside a 4.5-billion-year-old meteorite in 1999, giving scientists their first look at extraterrestrial water.

The telescope on Mount Palomar, California, can see a distance of 7,038,835,200,000,000,000,000 miles.

The first spaceshuttle was launched by NASA in 1981. It was called the Columbia and carried astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen aboard it.

LOX, in space lingo is liquid oxygen, a component of rocket fuel.

The temperature of Earth's interior increases by 1 degree every 60 feet down.

The first U.S. flag on the moon was deployed by Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin during their historic EVA on July 20, 1969 (at 4 days, 14 hours, and 9 minutes mission-elapsed time).

Maps showing the solar system published prior to 1979 need to be updated. The reason: Pluto is no longer the most distant planet from the Sun; Neptune currently is. In its 248.8 year orbital revolution around the Sun, Pluto crossed Neptune's orbit in December 1978. Neptune and Pluto resume their more familiar positions in March 1999 as Pluto journeys to its farthest point from the Sun, over 4.5 billion miles away.

The temperature on the Moon reaches 243 F at midday on the lunar equator. During the night, the temperature falls to -261 F.

The footprints left by the Apollo astronauts will not erode since there is no wind or water on the Moon. The footprints should last at least 10 million years.

Mare Tranquillitatis, or Sea of Tranquility, was the name of the first manned lunar landing.

The force of gravity is very strong on a neutron star because of its amazing density. Your weight on a neutron star would be 10,000 million times greater than on Earth.

Mars takes 1.88 years to orbit the Sun, so its seasons are about twice as long as those on Earth.

Massachusetts astronomer Maria Mitchell discovered a comet on October 1, 1847, becoming the first woman to do so while using a telescope. King Frederick of Denmark awarded her a gold medal for her discovery, and the Republic of San Marino presented her with a copper medal. Later, Mitchell was made a professor of astronomy at Vassar. Her special studies focused on sunspots, nebulae, and satellites. Mitchell was a role model and icon for many women of that period; she was the first woman to be elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. A crater on the Moon was named after her.

Galileo became totally blind shortly before his death, probably because of the damage done to his eyes during his many years of looking at the Sun through a telescope.

Ganymede, Jupiter's largest moon, is bigger than Mercury, the smallest planet.

Ganymede, Jupiter's largest satellite, is actually larger than the planet Mercury. It is 3,275 miles in diameter.

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