All Questions

October 20, 2020

In order to answer this question, we first need to define what we mean by up and down in space. And also acknowledge that the only reason ‘up and down’ exists as a binary is because we created them as humans.What is up and what is down?Since we are held to the surface of the

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October 20, 2020

The quickest way to answer this question is to say that the stars are not actually fixed in space, they are in fact always moving. But we are also going to explain how astronomers know this and how stars are actually always moving. Since, you came here for an answer.But they always look so still!Yes,

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October 20, 2020

How to define a space movieWhen we talk about space movies, we can mean one of two things: movies that are simply set in space and science fiction movies.  These are so different in that movies set in space can have the capacity to be incredibly accurate, but science fiction movies are designed to be

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October 20, 2020

The real question should be: what is the speed of gravitational change propagation? This might be a little confusing at first, but this answer will help to make sense of the topic.Other questions that ariseSince this question is quite a big one to ask, there are also some other questions that it uncovers alongside it.

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October 20, 2020

To answer this question, we first have to think about how we actually define what a planet is. In space we have different ways of characterizing the astronomical bodies, and of differentiating them from one another.Is there a way to define what a planet it?In science, numbers play the largest role because they are exact

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October 20, 2020

Actually, the wind is not the only factor that causes ocean currents. It is true that the wind plays a role, but it is only a small one compared to some of the other variables involved.  On top of this, the factors that we are about to explain, including wind, act in different ways on

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October 18, 2020

The simple answer is no, gravity does not extend out forever. Although there is a theory that states that it does.Newton’s Law of Universal GravitationNewton’s law states that the force of gravity on one mass due to another mass will depend mainly on their separation. This separation is represented as r where the dependence is

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October 18, 2020

This is an example of a question that has been influenced by science fiction literature and movies that seem to warp the truth on things like this for entertainment. But also, the science itself can be confusing. This answer will debunk the incorrect beliefs that we hold and also explain why they are wrong.So, do

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October 18, 2020

It is true that a star can turn into a planet, but the star has to be a brown dwarf. There are multiple different types of star, all having different properties, but in order for a star to become a planet, it would have to have been a brown dwarf star.Brown dwarfs are stars?Normally, stars

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October 11, 2020

First of all, there definitely is a lot of gravity in space. Gravity is a force that is very prevalent in space, even if it is not strong everywhere. In relation to the surface of Earth, gravity is obviously weaker the further from Earth you go, but gravity is still there in space. Gravity can

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October 11, 2020

The sun never changes its temperature in relation to Earth’s seasons. Since it is literally a ball of fire facilitated by nuclear reactions, its surface stays hot all year round. The extremely high heat of the sun causes it to emit copious amounts of radiation in all directs from its spherical shape. Since the sun

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October 11, 2020

Conversely to the question, the moon is actually not that bright, especially when we compare it to other astronomical objects in space. The reason that the moon appears so bright in our night sky on earth, is because we are comparing the brightness of it to the object around us that are receiving absolutely no

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October 11, 2020

In a short answer: light is not in fact pure energy. It is, however, true that light has no mass. But the fact that light has no mass does not mean that light is pure energy. Light is actually made up of objects called photons. This can be compared to other fundamental quantum objects since

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October 11, 2020

On the contrary, gravity is actually the weakest force. This is true when it comes to the fundamental forces anyway. If you order the four fundamental forces from weakest to strongest, it would look like this: gravity, weak nuclear force, electromagnetic force, and the strong nuclear force. If we are to zoom in on two

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October 11, 2020

Thanks to gravity, the earth does fall. It is actually in a constant state of falling since it is in orbit around the sun. This gravitational pull that the sun has on the earth is useful since it stops earth from catapulting into space. Gravity means that objects are not just drawn to the thing

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October 11, 2020

The quick answer is that, according to observations made by astronomers, there is no edge to the universe. The universe is constantly expanding meaning that space spreads out infinitely in every direction. Galaxies and nebulas and stars fill out all of the space throughout this infinite universe. There are two observations that make this believable. Firstly,

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October 11, 2020

This is a complex question with an even more complex answer. But essentially there is no center of the universe according to current observations. If a center point were to exist, it would need to significant and special in a way that meant it was special to the whole universe collectively. So, this answer will

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October 11, 2020

To begin with, being ‘stuck’ in the night sky is not exclusive to the North star: none of the stars in the night sky actually move enough for our time measurements to comprehend.  They will move over the course of millions of years, meaning we won’t see them move across the sky in our lifetimes. The

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October 11, 2020

Logically, there can be no darkness without the existence of light. Think of a bright day accompanied by the shadows that the sun casts when blocked by something like a streetlamp.  Darkness is simply the absence of light, so it follows that it travels at the speed of light. The absence of light, or darkness, is

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October 6, 2020

In a short and direct answer: the sun’s light and color is white.  You may have heard about the light spectrum that we can see with the human eye being white light. This is because they all come together to form white light. Since we can see the range of seven colors of light in the outside

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October 5, 2020

A lot of scientist will say that astrology does not ‘work’. But believers in astrology will tell you that it is real and that it does work. The real answer is that it depends what you mean by the word ‘work’.  Both answers and groups of people are technically right, depending on their definition of ‘work’.

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October 5, 2020

The short answer is that sound does not travel in space at all.  Since sound is received by our ears in the form of vibrating air and there is virtually no air in space, there is nothing to vibrate to make a sound. You could even imagine the loudest sounds you can think of, like a

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October 3, 2020

I’ve heard multiple sources say the sun is white, that it just looks yellow because the Earth’s atmosphere is scattering the blue light. I’ve heard in other places that the sun is yellow because of its position in the Hertzsprung-Russell (H-R) Diagram. Which is it? It can’t be both yellow and white at the same

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October 3, 2020

I understand stars are millions of light years away and it takes a long, long time for the light of say a star exploding to reach us. We have pictures of stars exploding 50 years ago. Why are those stars still exploding? Do they explode in slow motion?? Also, why don’t we see galaxies turning?

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October 3, 2020

That’s a very interesting question, and one that can often be very difficult to answer when getting deep into the details, but I’ll try and do a quick “back-of-the-envelope” calculation for you and mention when these tricky little details might become important and change my answer. Here is the basic problem to solve. The Sun

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October 3, 2020

I read that Betelgeuse is shrinking. Is it true, and will there be any consequences? Betelgeuse is a star very often studied by astronomers. Before answering why Betelgeuse is shrinking, let’s explain how to keep a star in a stable state. To do that, two forces must be in equilibrium: gravity, which pulls inward and tries

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October 2, 2020

Given the recent discovery of the presence of liquid water on Mars, how likely do you think the possibility of terraforming is? (I know that part’s open-ended, but stick with me.) Can you postulate a method to begin colonization and terraforming simultaneously, or would humans have to wait the (presumed) hundreds—if not thousands—of years for

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October 2, 2020

Is Pluto still a planet? How can astronomers decide if Pluto is or not a planet? Thank you for your question. It is one that often comes up, and hopefully my response will clarify Pluto’s status. The short answer is no, Pluto is no longer a planet. It is now classified as a type of

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October 2, 2020

Approximately how long does it take for a planet to be born? Is a planet currently forming and if there is, what is its name? To answer how long it takes for planets to form, we first need to have a look at how planets are formed. The formation of planets is very closely related

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October 2, 2020

Is Jupiter a failed star? I study how stars and planets form, which is a big part of the ways that Jupiter both is and isn’t like a star. We can consider Jupiter to look somewhat like a “failed star” because it actually has a chemical composition that is very similar to the Sun. Jupiter

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October 2, 2020

e most mornings, and I notice and understand how over the course of a year it rises in a different area on the horizon. These position changes having to do with the Earth’s tilt and rotation around the Sun. I also get to see the moonrise and its position change on the horizon, much like

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October 2, 2020

The New Horizons eclipse photo of Pluto shows the atmosphere as a blue ring, while a similar picture of Earth would show ours with a red hue. What causes the difference since they both have a nitrogen atmosphere? Thank you for your question. It’s a good one! You are correct in that the primary constituent

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October 2, 2020

What is the “hierarchy” of structures in the Universe? it seems that we have moon, then planet, then planetary system, then Galaxy, then maybe “several missing” in the hierarchy?, then universe. How many “several missing” structures would there be? And would all of them just be considered clusters within clusters? Or is the “galaxy” structure

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October 2, 2020

Are astronomers convinced that dark matter is the answer? Is it likely that there is a simpler alternative theory to help explain why general relativity fails at galactic scales? I will answer the second question first: no. All the simpler alternatives have been tested and they fail to explain all the observations. It is very

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October 2, 2020

In the November/December 2015 edition of StarDate Magazine, I quote Merlin as follows, “Astronomers see the earliest galaxies as they looked about 13 billion years ago. Since the time when those galaxies emitted the light that astronomers now detect, though, space itself has expanded, so the galaxies are now 48 billion light-years away.” If those

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October 2, 2020

In the November issue of Scientific American, there is an article on the Dark Energy Survey, “Seeing in the Dark.” How is this survey similar to – or different – from HET-DEX (besides being in Chile instead of Ft Davis)? As the Scientific American article states, the five-year Dark Energy Survey (DES) will cover 5000 square degrees

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October 2, 2020

If a clock could survive in a black hole, would time stand still inside the black hole? What would space-time be like? The answer is kind of boring since we do not have physics to describe the inside of black holes, the official answer is “we don’t know”. We can speculate given what happens right

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