It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no it’s the Big Dipper!
Pluto here, you know, the former planet. Yes, I do still exist and I am doing just fine! I was the talk of the town for a while, back in 2006 when all of the astronomers got together and voted me off of the planetary island. I was so surprised to find out that I had been lumped in with the wrong group since I was first discovered back in 1930.
To be honest, I always felt out of place whenever all nine of us would get together. The other eight planets are all so much bigger than me! I felt like the runt of the litter. I mean, I am only twice as large as my biggest moon, Charon. The rest of the planets are WAY bigger than all of their moons. Also, the Great Eight (that is what they are calling themselves now) have such clean and tidy orbits. They all have really strong gravitational pulls and easily sweep up all of the asteroids, comets, and other space clutter in their path. My orbit has always been a bit messier, but I don’t really mind that. I like an orbit with a lived-in feel.
When the big decision was made, it left me feeling a bit lost. But then, the Sun told me all about the story of the Ugly Duckling. Have you ever heard that one? It is my very favorite story. You see, there was a strange, little duck who just didn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the ducklings. The little duck felt alone and as if something was wrong with it. But then one day, the little duck stumbled upon a group of birds that looked just like it. It turned out, the little duck wasn’t a duck at all! The little duck was actually a swan. Once the little not-duck found out where it truly belonged, it didn’t feel so alone anymore. Just like the little strange duck, there was never anything wrong with me. I just needed to find the right group where I truly belonged. But don’t worry, I found that group in no time!
I am now officially one of the Dwarf Planets. There are only five of us in our whole solar system. We call ourselves the Fab Five! The oldest one is Ceres, who was discovered back in 1801! Ceres is the smallest and oldest of all of us. I’m the next oldest, and then there are the twins, Eris and Haumea. They were both discovered in 2003. Eris and Haumea always tells us that they are fraternal twins which means that they are not identical! Eris is way bigger than Haumea. And finally, the baby of the group is Makemake, who was discovered in 2005.
While there are only five known Dwarf Planets in our solar system, the word on the street is that there could be hundreds more that have yet to be discovered. Sometimes at night, I look out at the sky and think about all the other soon-to-be Dwarf Planets out there that might be feeling as alone and strange as I once did. I can’t wait for the day that I get to welcome them to my family. I’m so happy to be a part of such an inclusive group of celestial bodies. Well, I better get back to the rest of the Fab Five! Every weekend we go hiking through an asteroid belt and I don’t want to be late!
Zoom! Zoom! Zoom! We’re going to the moon!
Hey Good Buddies!
This week, we’re blasting off into outer space to visit that giant light bulb in the sky, otherwise known as the moon!
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to go to the moon?
On July 20, 1969, U.S. spacecraft Apollo 11 landed on the moon, and Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first two people to ever step foot on the moon.
Since then,12 different men have walked on the moon. In 1972 Gene Cernan and Jack Schmitt walked on the moon, and no human has been back on the moon’s surface since. Who knows? Maybe your little astronaut will be the next person on the moon!
The surface of the moon is covered in a fine dust often called lunar soil or moon dust.
This moon dust was created over many many years as the moon was continuously hit by meteors. The meteors broke off chunks of the moon’s surface, and over time, as more meteors hit the moon, they ground these chunks into fine dust.
Scientists also believe that the moon was originally made up of several active volcanoes. Over time, the magma in the volcanos cooled and hardened. The dried magma turned into a sort of colored glass. When meteors smashed into the surface of the moon, the volcanic magma was broken up into fine pieces, adding green and orange colors to the moon dust we see today.
We thought it’d be fun to experiment a little bit with what it would feel like to be on the moon. With just a few common kitchen ingredients, you and your kids can make your own moon dust.
Just follow the recipe below and indulge your imagination in a little space exploration!
(this recipe is adapted from Mommy Evolution)
Grab your toy spaceships or turn a toy car into a space rover and have some fun!
1. Space is (almost) silent
Space is a “vacuum” and noise needs something to pass through. Since there is no atmosphere in space -- like there is on Earth and most other planets -- there is no medium for sound to travel through, and that’s why you can’t hear yourself talk in space. OR SO THEY THOUGHT! Scientists recorded space sounds for over a year, crammed it into 6 minutes of audio, and when you do that, you can actually hear noises. So, space is pretty silent, but if you’re tricky enough about it, you can actually hear it whisper.
2. Venus’s day is LONGER than its YEAR
A year is measured by how long it takes a planet to make a “lap” around the sun. A day is measured by how quickly a planet twirls around on its axis (like an ice skater twirling in a tight circle opposed to skating around the entire ice rink). Venus spins on its axis SOOOOO SLOWLY that it takes LESS TIME for an entire year to complete than it does for it to make a full rotation on its own axis. 1 year on Venus = 225 Earth days. 1 day on Venus = 243 Earth days. That means your birthday is every day on Venus!
3. There is a GINORMOUS ocean-cloud floating around in space.
A massive water vapor cloud was found 10 billion light years away. It is so big that it holds… wait for it… 140 TRILLION times the amount of ALL THE WATER on Earth combined. 140 Trillion times all the water in the literal world. Just hanging out in space. Floating around. What if there were creatures in there? What would they look like?