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Zoom Astronomy Questions and Answers (September 2001)

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We enjoy hearing from visitors. Thank you for writing! You can send us your astronomy question and we'll try to answer as soon as possible (but we can't answer all the questions we receive).

Don't forget to scroll down to find the answer to your question - they're in reverse order by the date they were asked.

Zoom Astronomy Questions
Current Questions November 2001 October 2001 September 2001 August 2001 June-July 2001 May 2001 April 2001 March 2001



Q: wHAT IS THE LARGEST STAR
from ?, ?, ?, ?; September 26, 2001

A: The biggest stars are red giant that are near the end of their life. Measuring the exact diameter of stars is very difficult, but Betelgeuse (in Orion) is one of the biggest known.



Q: What is the gravity pull on Neptune compared to Earth?
from Alyssa G., ?, ?, ?; September 24, 2001

A: The force of gravity on Neptune is similar to gravity on Earth. The gravity on Neptune is only 1.19 times of the gravity on Earth. This is because this massive planet (Neptune's mass is about 1.02 x 1026 kg.) is also very large - the gravitational force a planet exerts upon an object at the planet's surface is proportional to its mass and to the inverse of its radius squared. A 100-pound person would weigh 119 pounds on Neptune.



Q: we see light from the sun because it is a burning ball of plasma. Why do we see light from the moon?
from Jessica, New York City, ny, usa; September 22, 2001

A: We see sunlight reflected off the moon. The sun lights up (one half of) the moon, and that's what we see.



Q: I was wondering how hot the sun is and how it stays hot. Also, could you tell me what a solar eclipse is and how its different from a lunar eclipse? Thank you for your time.
from Kimie C, ?, Ontario, Canada; September 22, 2001

A: The different layers of the Sun are at different temperatures. For a page on these temperatures, click here.

A solar eclipse happens when the moon blocks our view of the Sun; a lunar eclipse happens when the shadow of the Earth blocks the sunlight falling on the moon, so we cannot see the moon.



Q: Why Pluto have a diffrent orbit than other planets?
from Raymond T, Rotterdam, ?, Holland; September 18, 2001

A: No one knows why Pluto has such an odd orbit. Pluto may be a captured asteroid (if this is so, there is no reason for it to have an orbit similar to the other planets).



Q: why is mars red?
from Lawrence w, sydney, nsw, australia; September 18, 2001

A: The surface soil on Mars contains a lot of iron, which appears reddish (think of rust, iron oxide, which is a red-orange color).



Q: What is the Nemesis Theory?
from Penny k, Libby, MT, USA; September 15, 2001

A: Nemesis is a hypothetical companion dark star to our Sun. Once every 30 million years, this dark star would pass through the Oort cloud, triggering comets that perhaps cause periodic mass extinctions on Earth.



Q: how are visuals, x-ray, and radio telescopes used in the study of stars.
from regina w, fairfield, ca, ?; September 4, 2001

A: These telescopes example different spects of stars (and other celestial objects).Radio telescopes give information about the radio waves emitted by the object and X-ray telescopes give information about the X-rays emitted by the object. Visual telescopes give information about the waves of the electromagnetic spectrum in the visual range that are emitted by the object (i.e., what the object looks like).



Zoom Astronomy Questions
Current Questions November 2001 October 2001 September 2001 August 2001 June-July 2001 May 2001 April 2001 March 2001


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