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  • Elizabeth Cocking

Did you know? - the planets

Credits: NASA, ESA, and A. Simon (NASA Goddard)

The Earth is not a sphere ! It is an oblate spheroid. Due to its rotation it bulges out at the equator about 43 km more than at the poles. If you stood at either pole you would be about 22km closer to the centre of the Earth.

Saturn’s rings are not solid. They are made up of particles of ice, dust and rock – some as tiny of grains of sand, some much larger than boulders. The rings are about 282,000 km wide, roughly the distance from the Earth to the Moon, but are only less than a kilometre thick. You can see Saturn in May 2018 rising in the east after 9pm at the beginning of the month and a little earlier each night.

Jupiter acts as a huge “vacuum cleaner”, attracting and absorbing comets and meteors. Without Jupiter’s gravitational influence the number of massive projectiles hitting Earth would be greater. In 1994 Comet Shoemaker-Levy hit the planet. This was the first observed collision of solar system objects and provided valuable scientific information about Jupiter. At the beginning of the month Jupiter rises just after 5:30pm rising earlier each night, and on the 9th of May 2018 Jupiter is at opposition which means it will be the brightest for the year! Last year Hubble Space telescope took the amazing image of Jupiter when it was at opposition featured in this post. Image Credits: NASA, ESA, and A. Simon (NASA Goddard)

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