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Quickie Questions - Extraordinary Earth - Sun/Moon Effects

Date Answered Questioner (age, location) Question Answer

May 2, 2008Vanessa (age 10, New york) what would happen if the sun got to hot and blow up A star with a mass similar to that of our Sun and in the last phase of its life is a red giant. At this point, the Sun will have expanded to cover all the interior planets, including the earth.
March 28, 2007bob (age 11, australia) what would be easier to do on the moon than the earth Many things, but the first one that comes to mind is to jump!
February 20, 2007Michelle (age 11, USA Arkansas) How long before the world explodes? In about 5 billion years, the hydrogen in the center of the Sun will start to run out, the helium will get squeezed, and this will speed up the hydrogen burning. Our star will slowly grow into a red giant and will eventually eat all of the inner planets, even the Earth.
November 22, 2006Emily (age 9, HI) What is a diameter, and how big is the moons one? DIAMETER is the distance from one side of a circle to the other measured through the center. The Moon, with 3,456 km in diameter, is more than one quarter the size of Earth.
November 22, 2006Emily (age 9, Hawaii) What is a diameter, and how big is the moon's one? The Moon, with 3,456 km in diameter, is more than one quarter the size of Earth.
November 22, 2006Emily (age 9, Hawaii) How big is the moon? The Moon, with 3,456 km in diameter, is more than one quarter the size of Earth.
October 23, 2006Ajitha (age 19, Algonquin) What is the distance between the earth and moon?
How much time does take per revolution?
Dear Ajitha The distance between our planet and moon changes continuously, but it has been calculated that the average Earth-Moon distance is about 385 000 km. Now, the period in which the Moon completes a revolution around the Earth is exactly 27.321661 "Earth days", commonly expressed as 27.3 days. Thank you for visiting Windows to the Universe.
April 23, 2001 Anna (11, Australia) Why is Earth, just the right distance from the Sun to support life? The fact that Earth is just the right distance away from the Sun to support life is called the Goldilocks Theory. This page should help!
April 23, 2001 Amanda (11, USA) What in space is 93 million miles away from Earth ? The Sun is 93 million miles or 149.6 million kilometers from the Earth. This was the answer to one of the "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" million-dollar questions!
February 5, 2001 Melissa (age 21+, South Carolina, USA) Does our wind come from solar wind? Though the solar wind does drive some processes that affect life on Earth, it is not responsible for the wind. Most simply, winds on Earth are due to differences in pressure within the atmosphere.
September 6, 2000 Mike (age 21, Kansas, USA) Who proved the earth was round by pointing during an eclipse? It was good ole Pythagoras! He noted that the shadow of the Earth on the Moon during a lunar eclipse was always curved and that the amount of curvature was the same. The only thing that casts a circular shadow all of the time regardless of its orientation is a sphere. So, people knew the Earth was round far before Columbus' time!
August 26, 2000 Paul (age 9, New York, USA) How long does it take from Earth to Moon by rocket? Well, the Lunar Prospector was launched by the Athena 2 rocket. The rocket then let go of the Prospector. It then took four and a half days to reach the Moon.
August 26, 2000 Kimberly (age 18, California, USA) How do I figure out how many times I have orbited the Sun in my lifetime? The earth goes around the sun once each year, so you have gone around once for each year you've been alive (18).
July 19, 2000 Jan (age 11, PA, USA ) What is the distance from Earth to the Moon?

The Moon is around 238,000 miles from Earth. This distance changes slightly throughout its orbit.

February 14, 2000 Eileen (age 13, Ohio, USA)
Patricia (age 25, Arizona, USA)
Kerry (age 28, Florida, USA)
I know that the sun sets at a slightly different time each day. It seems also to set at a somewhat different location each day. How far apart would that be? Is that measurable in terms of north, south east and west? What kind of a cycle does that follow? Is the phenomenon the same whether you look out over the ocean, the grassy plains or the 'neighborhood' horizon? Are we able to chart this? Good observation!! This phenonmena is because of the tilt of the Earth's axis and is related to seasons. The Sun always rises in the east and sets in the west, but it varies between more northerly and more southerly paths. On June 21, the summer solstice, the Sun takes its most northerly path because the northern hemisphere is facing the Sun directly. Likewise, on December 21, the winter solstice, the Sun takes its most southerly path because the southern hemisphere is most directly facing the Sun. The magnitude of this variance is 47 degrees, two times the tilt of the Earth's axis. The Sun is directly overhead 23.5 degrees north lattitude at noon on June 21, directly over 23.5 degrees south lattitude at noon on December 21, and directly overhead the equator at noon on both equinoxes. This cylce is the same for all of Earth with a different starting point depending on lattitude.
November 29, 1999 Will (age 17, Virginia, USA) We know that the earth will pull on the moon as the moon pulls on the earth. Does rotation of the moon the affect the rotation of the earth? And if so how profoundly does it the earth's rotation? The rotation of the Moon does affect the rotation of the Earth. The Earth is slowed down by about 1.5 milliseconds per century. Eventually, the Earth will be slowed down enough that the same side of the Earth always faces the Moon, just as currently the same face of the Moon always faces the Earth.
November 8, 1999 Adinah (age 17, New York, USA) When is the next lunar eclipse? which countries will be able to see it? The next lunar eclipse will occur on January 21 of 2000. It will be visible in North America, South America, Africa, and Europe.
October 2, 1999 Bonnie I want to figure out what time the moon sets in lake Michigan. I watch from The Michigan side. I'v seen the full moon set twice in my life and it was awesome. The US Naval Observatory has a calculator which will give you sunrise, sunset, moonrise and moonset times for any location. To find out when the full moons are, try this calendar.
September 28, 1999 Andrea (age 18, England) When and where is the next solar eclipse? The next solar eclipse will take place on June 21, 2001. The path of totality goes through southern Africa.
September 6, 1999 Hope (age 20, Ontario Canada) I read in a major newspaper that the next blue moon will be in February 2000, what is the exact date that this event will occur on? There are actually no blue moons in 2000. The next blue moon will actually be on November 30th, 2001.
August 31, 1999 Danny (age 14, Virginia) What causes the Sun to appear red during sunsets?

The Sun looks red during a sunset because of Earth's atmosphere. When the Sun goes down, we see it through gases and dust that are in the sky.

The color it appears to be depends on what is in the air. If you see red, it is because all the other colors are being absorbed by the particles, but the color red is being reflected.

August 6, 1999 Vasco (age 72, Vasco) Can Venus eclipse the Earth? Venus does pass between the Sun and Earth. This is called a transit of Venus. However, since Venus is so far away from Earth, you would have to be specially observing the Sun to even notice it. There would be no shadow on the surface of the Earth. The next transit of Venus will occur in June 2004.
August 5, 1999 Art (age 12, United Kingdom) What was the date and time of the vernal equinox in 1999? This year, the first day of spring was at 8:46 p.m. EST on March 21. The vernal equinox occurs when the Sun is directly over Earth's equator.
June 15, 1999 Gary (age 37, North Carolina) What causes the time of sunrise at a given point to change? Day length is related to the tilt of the Earth's axis (23.5 degrees) and where on the Earth's surface you are. For you in North Carolina days are longer when the northern hemisphere is tilted toward the sun because sunlight is more direct. The more extreme north or south on Earth, the more exaggerated the day lengths. In fact, the North pole has sunrise on March 20th, and it doesn't set again for six months on September 22nd. If it weren't for the tilt of the Earth's axis every latitude on Earth would have exactly 12 hours of daylight and 12 of night each day of the year.
Check out the picture on our new SPARC page for when sunrise and sunset occur.
June 3, 1999 Justin (age 14, New York, USA) I wanted to know, why when I measure the length of a shadow the same time every day, why doesn't the length of the shadow change the same amount every day? If you measure the length of an object's shadow every day at the same time and same should change by getting longer as you approach winter! This is due to the motion of the Earth around the Sun.
January 8, 1999 Mr. Robinson How long would it take the Earth to freeze over if it were not for the sun's radiation? And what temperature would it reach (if it didn't reach 0 Kelvin)? Let's say it happened in June and the noonday temperature was 77F when the sunlight stopped - the sun didn't explode just suddenly was not there to give any more heat. It would take about a month for the heat stored in the surface of the Earth to dissipate. Since the interior of the Earth is so hot, and the temperature of the universe so cold (2.7 K), the surface temperature would probably drop to around 200 K and remain there for billions of years, maintained by the energy from the interior of the earth.
June 22, 1998 Genevieve (Age 13, New Jersey, USA) I've heard that in the future, the Sun will turn into a red giant and swallow the first three planets (Earth being one of them). I know this will happen in about 5 or 6 billion years but is there any chance of life on earth moving to another location? What do you suppose will happen? If humans are still around then, I think it would be completely reasonable to think that they could move to a different location. Some of the outer moons of Jupiter and Saturn would be a lot warmer then. They might even have liquid oceans at that point.
My guess is that Earthlings will have figured out faster forms of travel by then so they could go to a completely different solar system...knowing how much has been accomplished in just 100 years on Earth, things beyond our imagination will be done in 5 billion years!
May 19, 1998 Raza (age 18, Pakistan) What are the different effects of the Moon on the Earth? The largest impact of the Moon on the Earth is through tidal forces. The Moon's gravitational pull does indeed pull on the bodies of water on the Earth, creating high and low tides. Land doesn't move as easily as water, but in some places the Earth's surface does rise and fall 1-2 inches because of the Moon's gravitational pull.

Finally, I've heard many people blame hyperactivity or just anomolous behavior in general on a full Moon. I don't know that there is much scientific evidence for a full Moon affecting emotions or behavior, but I do know that during a full Moon, some strange things go on...for instance, it has been documented that during a full Moon, more baby animals are born than any other time during a month. You decide!

May 4, 1998 Nicolas (age 10, Ontario, Canada) What would happen if Earth moved closer to the Sun? If the Earth moved closer to the sun, the atmosphere would disappear, the oceans would boil and evaporate, and every living thing on Earth would die!
February 4, 1998 Remco (age 20, Holland) After a couple of billion years the sun will implode, what will happen to our planet? What are threats for existence of our planet (meteors, etc..)? Regardless of the recent movies released, there aren't too many actual threats to Earth's immediate existence. A meteorite might hit the Earth...but we think one did hit, when the dinosaurs were around. While it did destroy ecosystem, the Earth still survived. The Earth could be shattered by impact with a large planetary body...but we know where all of these bodies are, and they are all in fixed orbits. The Sun could go supernova...but it is not the right type of star for that. Eventually, the Sun will change from a yellow dwarf to a red giant. When this happens, the earth will burn to a crisp. But, this will not happen for about 5 billion years. So, it looks like you have nothing to worry about for quite a while!

Last modified February 11, 2005 by Jennifer Bergman.

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