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Space Trivia

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Astronauts circling the Earth may be able to see as many as 16 sunrises and 16 sunsets each day.

Astronomers believe Jupiter's moon, Europa, may have an ocean of liquid water beneath an ice cap.

Astronomers believe that the universe contains one atom for every 88 gallons of space.

At its center, the Sun has a density of over a hundred times that of water, and a temperature of 10-20 million degrees Celsius.

At midday on Mercury, the sunlight is hot enough to melt lead.

At the end of every 19 years the lunar phases repeat themselves. In effect, the tide tables for the next 19 years will be approximately the same as those for the past 19 years.

At the height of a hundred miles, air is only a billionth as dense as it is on Earth's surface. Even so, the total amount of air that is higher than the hundred-mile level comes to 6 million tons.

At the International Space Hall of Fame in Alamogordo, New Mexico, Ham, the first chimpanzee in space, and Minnie, the longest surviving “astro-chimp,” are buried.

Slinky, the popular spring toy, has gone in space shuttles to test the zero-gravity effects on the physical laws that govern the mechanics of springs. In space, Slinky behaves like neither a spring nor a toy, but as a continuously propagating wave.

Small satellites within a planet's rings are sometimes called “mooms.”

In 1992, a yo-yo was brought into space by astronaut Jeffry Hoffman on the space shuttle Atlantis.

Some astronomers believe Pluto's strange and erratic orbit indicates that it wasn't one of the original planets at all, but rather, a moon of Neptune that somehow broke loose.

In 1994, the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 broke apart and plunged into Jupiter, ripping holes the size of Earth in the planet's atmosphere.

Some neutron stars spin 600 times a second, which is as fast as a dentist's drill.

In 1995, a National Aeronautics and Space Administration employee bought six plastic owls at Wal-Mart to protect the space shuttle from woodpeckers.

Some subatomic particles discovered by nuclear physicists have a lifetime of just a few trillionths of the trillionth of a second. In this moment, light – which travels from the Moon to Earth in 1.25 seconds – moves to no more than the width of a proton.

In 435 B.C., the Greek philosopher Anaxagoras suggested that the Sun was not just a small glowing circle of light. He maintained that it was a glowing rock a hundred miles across. For that outrageous statement, he was exiled from Athens.

Space dust is extremely small – smaller than a particle of smoke – and widely separated, with more than 320 feet between particles.

In astronomy, a white dwarf is the dense, burned-out remains of a star; a stellar corpse.

Statistically, UFO sightings are at their greatest number during those times when Mars is closest to Earth.

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