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Space Trivia

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In China, the dark shadows forming a face is seen as "the toad in the moon," not the “man in the moon." The toad is considered one of the five poisons of yin. It is believed that eclipses occur when the “toad in the moon” tries to swallow the moon itself.

Temperature variations on Mercury are the most extreme in the solar system, ranging from 90 K to 700 K.

In October 1991, astronomers at Cambridge, England, discovered one of the dimmest stars ever seen. It is relatively close to Earth, but so dim – 10,000 times fainter than the Sun – that it is visible only with a large telescope.

The "Jupiter Effect" occurred on March 10, 1982, which is when all the planets in the solar system are on the south side of the Sun. The name was taken from the 1974 book by astronomers John Gribbin and Stephen Plagemann. While this phenomenon occurs about every twenty or so years, it was predicted that this particular "alignment of planets" would cause tides on the Sun, raising solar flares that would ultimately change the rotation of Earth and causing devastating earthquakes.

In order to become an astronaut, applicants to NASA's Mercury Space program in 1959 were required to be in a branch of the military; be under 40 years old and shorter than 5 feet, 11 inches; demonstrate perfect eyesight and excellent physical condition; hold a bachelor's degree or equivalent in engineering; and be a qualified jet pilot and have at least 1,500 hours of flying time logged.

The Apollo II crew declared "moon walk and moon dust samples" on their U.S. Customs form upon their return from the Moon on July 20, 1969.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, some people thought comets were the eggs or sperm of planetary systems.

In the constellation Cygnus, there is a double star, one of whose components has such a high surface gravity that light cannot escape from it. It is Cygnus X-1, which many astronomers believe to be the first "black hole" to be detected.

Barnard's star is approaching the Sun at a speed of 87 miles/second. By the year 11800, it will be the closest star to us.

Because it is pouring energy out into space so rapidly, the Sun is a weight equivalent to a million elephants to a million elephants every second.

Because of the speed at which Earth moves around the Sun, it is impossible for a solar eclipse to last more than 7 minutes and 58 seconds.

Because total absence of life on the moon had been satisfactorily determined, NASA did not bother to quarantine the Apollo 14 astronauts on their return to earth after the third moon mission.

Being made up of mainly gas, the entire planet of Saturn would float in water.

Besides Earth, only Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune have known magnetic fields.

By the year 14000 A.D., the new North Star will be Vega.

California-born Dr. Sally Kirsten Ride was the first American woman to go into outer space. Starting in physics at Swarthmore College, she finished at Stanford University, earning her B.S. in physics and B.A. in English literature. She received her doctorate at Stanford University. At age 27, Ride was the first American woman in space on the shuttle Challenger's 1983 mission (STS-7). Her next flight was an eight-day mission in 1984, again on Challenger (STS 41-G). Her cumulative hours of space flight are more than 343.

Carbon dioxide makes up 97 percent of Venus's atmosphere.

Comets speed up as they approach the Sun – sometimes reaching speeds of over a million miles per hour. Far away from the Sun, speeds drop, perhaps down to as little as 700 miles per hour.

The Andromeda galaxy is the largest member of our local group of galaxies. The Milky Way is second largest in this group.

The Andromeda galaxy is the most distant object visible to the naked eye. It is about 12 billion billion miles away.

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