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November 3rd, 2007

Warm and Sunny Facts

The Sun is our nearest star in the universe. Nearest, however is a very relative term because the Sun is a whopping 93 million miles away from us. In fact Sciensational reader Demandude from Missouri, United States had this Astronomy fact for us:

The sun is about 149 million kms (93 million miles) from earth, yet it’s 270,000 times closer than the next nearest star, which is 4.3 light years away.

That nearest star, the star that is closest to us after the Sun, is a faint star known as Proxima Centauri. This star, in fact, to our naked eye, is part of a group of stars called the Alpha Centauri, which appear to us a single star (a more detailed post on this later.)

Let’s see how big our Sun is then, shall we. Another sciensational astronomy fact tells us

The Sun contains over 99.8 percent of the total material (mass) in our solar system, while Jupiter contains most of the rest.

Now that’s cool (or hot?), but how do we know what this means in relation to our Earth? Well, another astronomy fact comes to our rescue and helps us put things in perspective:

About 1000 Earths would fit inside Jupiter – and the Sun could hold about 1000 Jupiters.

How’s that for an idea of the cosmic magnitude, eh? To put it even more precisely, take another astronomy facts tidbit:

The Sun is 330,330 times larger than Earth.

That in essence means that one hundred Earths would have to be placed side by side to equal the width of the Sun! In terms of volume, the Sun could comfortably hold about one million Earths inside its sphere!

That takes care of the size. How about the Sun’s age? It’s computed after various considerations to be about 4.57 billion years. This means it is much, much older and existed much, much before us modern humans have existed for only about 200,000 years or so.

Here’s another juicy fact: Just as planets travel around it, the Sun also travels around the Milky Way galaxy, with its entire family of planets! In fact, another astronomy fact reveals to us that

The Sun travels at a speed of 250km (155 miles) per second, but it still takes 230 million years for it to complete a single revolution of the galaxy.

And just as our Earth has its year when it finishes a revolution around the Sun, the Sun also has a year: a Cosmic Year. What is it? Thanks again to our astronomy facts, we know that

A cosmic year is the amount of time it takes the Sun to revolve around the center of the Milky Way, about 230 million years.

Apart from giving us its heat, the Sun also dumps huge amounts of material as it burns. Yup, consider the following fact:

Every second, the Sun pumps more than a million tons of material into the space through the solar wind (electrically charged particles.)

Although we are nowhere near the beginning of discussing our fascinating star, and will definitely continue to discuss more things Sunny, let us conclude this post by a humbling fact that despite its great magnitude to us Earth dwellers, the Sun is considered nothing but a dwarf star: just an average low luminosity star amongst the community of stars!

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The posts on the blog are an attempt to loosely explain certain scientific fun facts and trivia. Please always consult an expert for accurate information regarding any subject. If you feel something here doesn't make sense at all, you can contact us.