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How Far Away are the Stars?

How Far Away are the Stars?

The sun is a star, just like the thousands of others we see in the sky each night. But it looks so very big. Is it the biggest star? No. The only reason the sun appears so big is because it is closer to us than any other star. The sun is just 93,000,000 miles (or 14,88,000,000 km) away from the earth. That seems an awful lot of distance, but light can travel so quickly that the sun’s rays reach the earth in a little more than eight minutes!...

Why Do Stars Twinkle?

Why Do Stars Twinkle?

Watching stars on a moonless night can be an quite an interesting experience. As clusters of stars take familiar forms – of a bear, a man in armor wielding a sword, millions of other stars simply twinkle. As if they were playing hide and seek with one’s eyes. We all know that each star is actually like the sun. And the huge collection of stars on the night sky is like a collection of many, many suns....

Planets! Planets! and more Planets!

Planets! Planets! and more Planets!

Astronomers working at Berkeley and Geneva have found nine new planets circling nearby stars. With this discovery, we now know of 50 extra-solar planets, also called exoplanets. That is a big increase from 41 planets last known five years ago. All these individual planets move in an orbit around a star, which is called their parent star. The astronomers estimate that the Beta Pictoris star has a planet ten times the mass of Earth. It orbits at a distance of about 10....

Why do we See a Face on the Moon

Why do we See a Face on the Moon

When people say that they see a man’s face on the Moon, they are actually seeing the uneven surface on the Moon. There are deep holes, called craters, and hills on the Moon’s surface. There is no man on the Moon. That the Moon is much smaller than the stars and even the earth. In fact, four moons put together would make one earth. The Moon looks big because it is much closer to us in comparison to the stars....

How Will our Sun Die?

How Will our Sun Die?

Everything that is born must die. Not only living beings, but inanimate objects like stars too. The birth of a star The universe has massive clouds of hydrogen floating around. Sometimes, these clouds come together and form very dense and huge balls of hydrogen gas. As the clouds come close, their temperature increases. This is called a proto-star (original star). The increase in temperature triggers off nuclear reactions at the core of the star. Nuclear reactions inside the star occur when the nucleus of two hydrogen atoms fuse to produce a helium atom....

How are Stars Named?

How are Stars Named?

Till now we have only seen roads, railway stations, airports, places etc. being named after famous people. But imagine paying money to get a star named after you. If that can happen, then anything is possible in this world! Well, there are organisations in different parts of the world that sell names for the stars in the sky. All you have to do is – go there, fill out the long, detailed form that they give you and buy star names or name stars after someone....

What are Go-Go Boots?

What are Go-Go Boots?

Ever seen rock stars or movie stars strutting about in calf-length boots? Well, these calf-length boots were the rage at one point of time. Discotheques at Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York saw young women dressed in thigh high skirts to show off these boots called Go-Go boots. The Go-Go boots had its origin with the original ankle-length boots with pointed toes and inch-high heels worn by Cowboys in the American mid-West. Cowboys needed these boots for riding, and to ensure they don’t bitten by scorpions or snakes when they were walking on the desert undergrowth....

How Stars Came into Being

How Stars Came into Being

This is a story about a long, long time ago. There was once an old man who smoked tobacco. He smoked tobacco in terracotta or clay pipes, called pikka. This old man had three sons. When the three sons grew up, he got them married one after the other. How Stars Came into Being [Illustrations by Sudheer Nath] It happened once, that the eldest son went to his wife’s parents’ house to attend a marriage....

Which Galaxy is Visible to the Eye?

Which Galaxy is Visible to the Eye?

The sun we see everyday is just one of the thousands of stars we see at night. Such a huge collection of stars is called a galaxy. And the stars we see belong to a galaxy called the Milky Way. There are millions of galaxies in the sky, most of whom are hidden from our view. However, there are some galaxies which can be seen with the naked eye. The most famous and the brightest of these is the M31 or the Andromeda galaxy....

The Gift of Wonder

The Gift of Wonder

Eleven years ago, under the sequinned sky on a warm summer day, on the roof of his palatial home in the town of Vrindaban, my grandfather introduced me to wonder. As I lay on a mattress surrounded members of the family, my grandfather or “Nana” as I used to call him, asked me to look at the sky and try to spot the patterns and the constellations. “What does that look like?” he would ask, pointing to the Little Bear....

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