Telescope Buying Tips

Telescopes

Two Dobsonian telescopes. The tube of a Dobsonian telescope is easily removed from its base, making for easy transport. Credit: NASA

Many people who want to view their star through their own telescope go out and buy a telescope right away, but later find that the expensive telescope they bought doesn’t really suit them. Or they eventually determine that they really didn’t like astronomy as a hobby like they thought they would. Either way, their telescopes end up buried in a closet, basement or attic, and they find that they’ve wasted a lot of their hard-earned money.  Many needlessly burn out on a hobby they might otherwise have enjoyed the rest of their lives if they had only taken a more measured approach in the beginning.

It’s really best to ease into astronomy, learn about the different types of telescopes, try using a few, become an educated consumer, and then make a purchase.  A great way to start is to get the following:

Continue reading “Telescope Buying Tips”

The Dog Days of Summer

Buttercup the dog
Buttercup, our CEO's dog, cooling off in the shade during the Dog Days of Summer

Here in the United States, it’s hot. Real hot. Vast areas of the country are experiencing record drought. As the old saying goes, we’re in the midst of the Dog Days of Summer.

You may be surprised to learn that the term “Dog Days of Summer” is based on astronomy. The term dates back to the time of the ancient Egyptians and Romans who associated the first rising of the bright star Sirius — together with the early morning Sun — as marking the onset of very hot weather. In fact, the Romans (falsely) believed the heat from Sirius actually contributed to the hotter weather here on Earth during the summer months. The Egyptians called Sirius “the dog star” (among other names) and also associated its rise with the annual flooding of the Nile river, which was critical to Egyptian agriculture. The Romans, however, saw the Dog Days of Summer as an inauspicious time of year, when disease became rampant in the heat and humidity of summertime Rome.

Sopdet
Sopdit, an ancient Egyptian personification of the star Sirius. Image Credit: Jeff Dahl

Sirius is the brightest star in the nighttime sky, and is in the constellation Canis Major, which is Latin for “the large dog.”

The Romans considered the Dog Days of Summer to run from late July through late August. The Greek word ὀπώρα (Opora) appears in the lexicon of the King James Bible, and basically refers to the part of the year between the rising of Sirius and the rising of another star called “Arcturus,” which basically demarcate the period of time we call the Dog Days of Summer.

In folklore, the Dog Days of Summer were perceived as the time of year when dogs went mad with the extreme heat of summer.

Here is a little ditty from folklore about the Dog Days of Summer – a ditty that often appeared in farmers’ almanacs:

Dog days bright and clear
Indicate a happy year;
But when accompanied by rain,
For better times our hopes are vain

The Dog Days even appear in the Charles Dickens’ classic, wintertime tale, A Christmas Carol:

Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. A frosty rime was on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin. He carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dog-days; and didn’t thaw it one degree at Christmas.

Can you officially name stars?

Ancient civilizations assigned proper names to stars and constellations, names that were meaningful to them and marked events, seasons, time of the year, honored gods or leaders.  It was a time when stars had a strong presence in our lives, provided guidance, inspiration and wonder. Name A Star Live gift sets represent the modern representation of a centuries old tradition of naming stars.

One of the questions we are asked by our customers is: “Can you officially name stars?”  The short answer is, “No one can ‘officially’ name a star.”  How is that so?  And what value does Name A Star Live bring to the table?

Many astronomers argue that the “International Astronomical Union” (IAU) – an international organization of professional astronomers – is the only body that can ‘officially’ name stars, celestial bodies and their surface features. Few know that the IAU’s decisions are not enforceable by any national or international law.

Part of the Carina Nebula
Hubble’s 20th anniversary image shows a mountain of dust and gas rising in the Carina Nebula. The top of a three-light-year tall pillar of cool hydrogen is being worn away by the radiation of nearby stars, while stars within the pillar unleash jets of gas that stream from the peaks. Credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Livio and the Hubble 20th Anniversary Team (STScI)

By and large, most astronomers do follow the conventions and recommendations of the IAU regarding the naming of celestial objects.  For example, in 1922 the IAU held a meeting in Rome where the organization agreed upon the names and boundaries of the 88 constellations (areas of the night sky) such as Taurus, Aries, Cancer, etc.  Virtually all astronomers around the world follow the IAU’s definitions of the constellations — as does Name A Star Live!

NGC 5584
The brilliant, blue glow of young stars trace the graceful spiral arms of galaxy NGC 5584 in this Hubble Space Telescope image. Thin, dark dust lanes appear to be flowing from the yellowish core, where older stars reside. The reddish dots sprinkled throughout the image are most likely background galaxies. NGC 5584 is about 72 million light-years from Earth, in the Name A Star Live constellation Virgo. Credit: NASA, ESA, A. Riess (STScI/JHU), L. Macri (Texas A&M University), and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

On the other hand, in 2006 the IAU made a very controversial decision concerning the planet Pluto – a decision that has met considerable resistance among many astronomers.  In the 1990s, astronomers began discovering numerous, small planetary objects (such as “dwarf planets”) in the outer reaches of the solar system.  What’s more, in 2003 a planetary body larger than Pluto was discovered in the outer solar system as well.  Astronomers began to worry that with the discovery of so many planetary bodies, the total number of “planets” in the solar system could grow so large as to make the term “planet” almost meaningless.  So in 2006 the IAU created a strict definition of what constitutes a planet.  Under this new definition, the IAU no longer considers Pluto to be a planet, and now states that the solar system has only eight planets, not nine.

Commenting on the IAU’s controversial Pluto decision, Professor Ron Ekers, past president of the IAU, admitted that the IAU’s decisions are not supported by the force of law.  Quoting Professor Ekers from the IAU Web site, “Such decisions and recommendations are not enforceable by any national or international law; rather they establish conventions that are meant to help our understanding of astronomical objects and processes.”

Fair enough: There is a real need within the astronomical community for a common set of definitions and conventions so as to facilitate scientific discourse.   But the point remains that the IAU’s decisions are not, in fact, “official” in any legal sense of the word.

Keith Cowing, the Editor-in-Chief of the prominent aerospace Web site “NASA Watch,” underscored this point when he recently wrote on his site:

If you had a chance to name this new moon [of Pluto] what would you name it – and why did you pick that name? Oh yea, the IAU claims to have a monopoly on naming objects and features in our solar system – and beyond. But there is nothing legally binding to the names they decide to use. Everyone just goes along with them because … well … because. And who gave them this role anyways? Answer: they appoint themselves. So why can’t the rest of us have a say in naming the things in our universe? The IAU is so 20th century. Its time to change this process.

Lunar Reconnisance Orbiter
Artist’s concept of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter currently in orbit about the Moon. In response to LRO’s “Send Your Name to the Moon” initiative, the spacecraft carries a microchip with nearly 1.6 million names submitted by the public.  Similarly, Name A Star Live spacecraft carry our customers’ star names into space: We’re the only name-a-star company that does this. Image Credit: NASA

Interestingly, other star-naming companies have tried to give the impression that their star names are official.  Some of them have actually made that exact (false) claim.  Some star-naming outfits – essentially trying to imply that they officially name stars – make a point of printing their customers’ star names in a copywritten book, perhaps which is stored in a vault.  Of course, anyone can print a list of star names on pieces of paper, put a copyright symbol (©) on those pieces of paper, and store them in a bank safe deposit box.  But that doesn’t make the star names official!

So if the IAU and star-naming companies cannot officially name stars, what value does Name A Star Live provide its customers?

Unlike the IAU and other star-naming companies, Name A Star Live makes the symbolic gesture of naming a star ‘real’ by:

  • Launching our customers’ star names into space, thus making our customers part of real space missions.  NASA does much the same thing when it offers members of the general public the opportunity to include their names on deep space missions.
  • Providing our Virtual Planetarium™ astronomy/space software that was developed in collaboration with Rice University and the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

These real components of our star-naming service – in addition to our handsome Star Certificates and other documentation in our gift sets – set Name A Star Live apart, and provides meaningful value for our customers.

People around the world have been giving different names to stars for thousands of years.  For example, over the centuries the North Star has been named Alruccabah, Cynosura, Lodestar, Pole Star, Navigatoria, Yilduz, Mismar, Dhruv, Hub of the Cosmos, the Steering Star, and the “star that does not walk.”  Today’s astronomers refer to the North Star with such scientific names as “Polaris,” “TYC 4628-237-1,” “HD 8890,” and “HIP 11767,” to give just a few examples.  None of these names are “official” from a legal perspective.  You could just as legitimately refer to the North Star as “the beautiful star in the north that never moves,” “Betty,” “Ralph,” or any other name you so choose.

The point is, naming a star is a beautiful, romantic, symbolic gesture – something that makes for a meaningful gift.  Name A Star Live – alone of all the star-naming companies – makes it real.  Enjoy!

The Stars and Planets in the Night Sky This Month

Saturn continues to provide the most spectacular sight through a telescope in August 2011.  Look for the beautiful, ringed planet in the Name A Star Live constellation Virgo this month.  Saturn will appear above the W-SW horizon around sunset, and will set not long after sunset.  (For those of you in the southern hemisphere, look for Saturn in the W-NW horizon around sunset.)

Jupiter appears in the predawn, eastern sky: It will be the brightest astronomical object you see toward the eastern horizon (other than the moon and the sun!). Currently, it resides in the Name A Star Live constellation Aries.

Mars rises shortly before sunrise over the eastern horizon. Mars is in the Name A Star Live constellation Taurus in early August, but moves into the constellation Gemini later in the month.

Mercury will be between the Earth and the Sun for much of August, but you may get a glimpse of this elusive planet toward month’s end in the eastern, predawn sky.

Venus will be behind the Sun for much of the month, and will appear again in the evening sky in October.

When to go stargazing this month

Moonlight ‘drowns out’ the faint light of many stars and other celestial objects, so the best time to view the stars is when the Moon is not visible. If you’re going to stargaze between sunset and midnight, then the best time to do that in August would be during the first few days, and during the last 1 1/2 weeks of the month.

Finding your star in the night sky

Stars are located within constellations, which are just areas of the night sky. Scorpius, Aries and Taurus are examples of constellations. Your Name A Star Live Star Certificate displays the name of your constellation.

You can use our online World Constellation Guide to determine if you can see your constellation during the evening hours (between sunset and midnight). Of course, you’ll need a telescope to see your star. (That’s why we include the SLOOH online telescope experience in our Deluxe, Framed and Ultimate Gift Sets!) But you can see your constellation without the use of a telescope.

You can also find your constellation by using our Virtual Planetarium™ astronomy software. A planisphere is another useful device.

The Eerie Sounds of Saturn

Saturn is one of the most spectacular objects of the night sky.  The beauty of this famous ringed planet is a sight to behold through a telescope!  But did you know that Saturn also is the source of some very eerie ‘sounds’?  Here’s a YouTube video (Credit: SpaceRip) that features an audio rendering of Saturn’s strange symphony of radio waves:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sh2-P8hG5-E]

Northern Lights
The Northern Lights. Image Credit: Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo

Saturn is a source of intense radio emissions, which have been monitored by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. The radio waves are closely related to the auroras near the poles of the planet. These auroras are similar to Earth’s northern and southern lights.  Earth’s auroras occur when charged solar particles impact the Earth’s upper atmosphere, causing atomic particles in the atmosphere to give off radiation of various wavelengths, including visual light (usually green or red colors) and radio waves.  All of this occurs as the charged particles travel down, or along, Earth’s magnetic field lines near the north and south poles.

Earth auroras
Auroras occur at both the north and south poles of Earth. The "Aurora Borealis" occurs at the north pole, and the "Aurora Australis" occurs at the south pole. Image Credit: NASA

The Cassini spacecraft began detecting these radio emissions from Saturn in April 2002, when Cassini was 374 million kilometers (234 million miles) from the planet, using the Cassini radio and plasma wave science instrument. The radio and plasma wave instrument has provided high resolution observations of these emissions, showing an amazing array of variations in frequency and time. The complex radio spectrum with rising and falling tones is very similar to Earth’s auroral radio emissions. These observations indicate that there are numerous small radio sources moving along magnetic field lines threading the auroral region of Saturn.

See the planet Saturn

Saturn is in the Name A Star Live constellation Virgo this month, near the bright binary star Porrima.  The word “planet” comes from an ancient Greek word meaning “wanderer,” because the planets move in relation to the background stars.  Over the course of this month, watch Saturn as it gradually moves away from Porrima, toward the bright star “Spica” in Virgo.

Saturn and Porrima in Virgo
Saturn and the bright, binary star Porrima appear close to one another in Virgo in early July. But Saturn will begin to move away from Virgo, toward Spica, as the month progresses.

Saturn’s rings appear more and more impressive as we move through the remainder of this year.  The tilt of Saturn’s rings relative to us Earthlings reached its minimum value for 2011 in June.  The tilt of the rings is growing now, making for a more impressive sight.  In fact, the tilt will more than double by the end of 2011.

If you view Saturn through even a small telescope you should see Saturn’s giant moon Titan, which is an 8th magnitude object.  Titan is the 2nd largest moon in the solar system (Jupiter’s moon Ganymede is the largest.)  This giant moon is composed of water ice and rocky material, has a largely nitrogen atmosphere, and has lakes of liquid hydrocarbons.  Depending on your telescope, you may also see the Saturnian moons Tethys, Dione, Rhea and Iapetus.

This month, Saturn appears toward the northern horizon shortly after sunset for Southern Hemisphere observers, and sets a few hours later.  Saturn appears toward the south-southwest sky for Nouthern Hemisphere observers.  Saturn will be visible in the evening skies for the next couple of months.  Then, toward the end of the year, Saturn will reappear as a morning object (rising in the east shortly before sunrise).

The Other Planets in the Night Sky This Month

Jupiter appears in the predawn, eastern sky: It will be the brightest astronomical object you see toward the eastern horizon (other than the moon and the sun!).  Currently, it resides in the Name A Star Live constellation Aries.

Mars rises shortly before sunrise over the eastern horizon.  Mars is currently in the Name A Star Live constellation Taurus.

The elusive planet Mercury may just be visible from your neck of the woods this month.  Look for it right after sunset, low on the western horizon.  If your local weather cooperates, try looking for Mercury on July 3.  You should find the planet roughly between the point where the sun set and the very thin crescent Moon you’ll see toward the west.

When to go stargazing this month

Moonlight ‘drowns out’ the faint light of many stars and other celestial objects, so the best time  to view the stars is when the Moon is not visible.  If you’re going to stargaze between sunset and midnight, then the best time to do that in July would be during the first few days, and during the last week of the month.

Finding your star in the night sky

Stars are located within constellations, which are just areas of the night sky. Scorpius, Aries and Taurus are examples of constellations. Your Name A Star Live Star Certificate displays the name of your constellation.

You can use our online World Constellation Guide to determine if you can see your constellation during the evening hours (between sunset and midnight). Of course, you’ll need a telescope to see your star. (That’s why we include the SLOOH online telescope experience in our Deluxe, Framed and Ultimate Gift Sets!) But you can see your constellation without the use of a telescope.

You can also find your constellation by using our Virtual Planetarium™ astronomy software. A planisphere is another useful device.

Lunar Eclipse June 15

A lunar eclipse — where the Earth’s shadow blocks sunlight from directly shining on the lunar surface — will be visible June 15 to those of you in western Australia, central Asia and Africa, and parts of Europe and South America (weather permitting).  Although Earth blocks sunlight from directly shining on the Moon, some sunlight — refracted (bent) by the Earth’s atmosphere — shines around the Earth and casts an orange glow on the Moon.  So the Moon does not become completely dark.

Lunar eclipse
The Moon during a lunar eclipse. The orange color results from sunlight being refracted (bent) by the Earth's atmosphere. Credit: NASA

The map below shows the areas of Earth where the eclipse will be visible, assuming the weather cooperates.  Those of you toward the west (e.g., South America) should see the eclipse at sunset (when the Moon is rising in the east), and those of you toward the east (e.g., Australia) should see it near sunrise (when the Moon is setting in the west).

World map showing eclipse visiblity
This map shows where the eclipse will be visible on June 15 (weather permitting). Credit: E. Espenak, NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center

The Planets This Month

Saturn dominates the night sky in May: The majestic, ringed planet Saturn appears very close to the bright, binary star named “Porrima” in the Name A Star Live constellation Virgo.  If you have a chance this month, take your telescope out and look for Saturn and Porrima together: It is quite a sight to behold!

Saturn and Porrima in Virgo
Saturn and the bright, binary star Porrima appear very close to one another in Virgo this month.

Jupiter appears in the predawn, eastern sky: It will be the brightest astronomical object you see toward the eastern horizon (other than the moon and the sun!).

Venus and Mars rise shortly before sunrise in the east.  On the morning of June 28, a thin, crescent Moon will appear just above Mars, and just below “The Pleiades,” a group of stars commonly confused with “The Little Dipper.”

Mercury will not be visible for most of June.

When to go stargazing this month

Moonlight ‘drowns out’ the faint light of many stars and other celestial objects, so the best time  to view the stars is when the Moon is not visible.  If you’re going to stargaze between sunset and midnight, then the best time to do that during the balance of June would be in the last week of the month.

Finding your star in the night sky

Stars are located within constellations, which are just areas of the night sky. Scorpius, Aries and Taurus are examples of constellations. Your Name A Star Live Star Certificate displays the name of your constellation.

You can use our online World Constellation Guide to determine if you can see your constellation during the evening hours (between sunset and midnight). Of course, you’ll need a telescope to see your star. (That’s why we include the SLOOH online telescope experience in our Deluxe, Framed and Ultimate Gift Sets!) But you can see your constellation without the use of a telescope.

You can also find your constellation by using our Virtual Planetarium™ astronomy software. A planisphere is another useful device.

Star hop with the Moon

Everyone likes to look at the Moon. The Moon is also a useful ‘landmark’ in the night  sky: Using the Moon as a reference point, you can “star hop” from the Moon to interesting stars and planets.

The Hyades, the Moon and the Pleaiades on April 7, 2011
On April 7, you can use the Moon to find the Hyades and the Pleiades

April 7

If you live in the northern hemisphere (the US, Canada, Europe, Japan, etc.) and you have a clear evening sky on the night of April 7, then you can use the Moon to find two very interesting groups of stars in the Name A Star Live constellation Taurus, the bull:

To the left of the Moon is a V-shaped group of stars called “The Hyades,” which represent the head of the bull. The bright, orange star in the upper, left-hand side of The Hyades is a famous star called “Aldebaran,” which is Arabic for “the follower.”  This might be because the Hyades are to the east of the Pleiades, and thus seem to follow the Pleiades as the stars in the night sky move toward the west as the night progresses.

The Pleiades
The Pleiades

Below, and to the right of the Moon is the beautiful star cluster known as “The Pleiades.”  Many people confuse this star cluster with “The Little Dipper.”  The Little Dipper is a faint, yet larger group of stars in the constellation Ursa Minor.  In fact, one of the stars in The Little Dipper is the “North Star.”  In April, The Pleiades star cluster will be in the western sky: When you face the Moon and the Pleiades the evening of April 7, you are facing west: The Little Dipper will be toward your right (north).  The Pleiades are a cluster of stars that create the shoulder of Taurus, the bull.    From classical mythology the Pleiades are most often viewed as the Seven Sisters, who represent the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione.  But they are sometimes interpreted as a bunch of grapes that Orion, the hunter, seems to be leaning forward to pick.  The Cherokee viewed the Pleiades as boys (called “Ani’tsutsä”) who, one night, danced around and around so much that they ascended into the night sky where they remain.  The Zuni Indians called the Pleiades ‘seeds’ because their position in the night sky helped them decide when to plant their crops. The Zunis also knew that when the Pleiades moved directly overhead in the early morning it was time to harvest what they had planted, because winter was coming soon.

The Moon near Leo and Cancer
The Moon near the constellations Leo and Cancer on April 13

April 13

On the evening of April 13 (April 14 for those of you in Australia and other parts of the southern hemisphere), the Moon will be near the constellations Leo and Cancer.  If you have a telescope, take a look at the bright stars Regulus and Algieba: both appear as double stars through a telescope.  Actually, Regulus is a multiple star system, consisting of two pairs of binary stars.  Algieba is a true binary star system.

The Moon near Saturn
The Moon near Saturn, in the constellation Virgo on April 17

April 17

By April 17, the Moon has moved from the constellation Leo into the constellation Virgo.  Near the Moon is the beautiful ringed planet, Saturn, and two of the bright stars of Virgo known as Spica and Porrima.  Both Spica and Porrima are binary star systems.  However, the two stars in Spica are too close to one another to see through even the most powerful telescopes.  Porrima’s two stars could be seen through very powerful telescopes, but probably won’t be viewable through most amateur telescopes for a few more years, when the two stars will grow far enough apart in their orbits.

The Planets This Month

SaturnSaturn is at “opposition” this month.  No, this doesn’t mean we here on Earth have a grudge against Saturn: We don’t “oppose” it!  Rather, it means that Earth is between Saturn and the Sun, so that when the sun sets in the west, Saturn rises in the east — on the opposite side of the sky.  So look for Saturn above the eastern horizon around sunset: It will be the brightest ‘star’ you see over the eastern horizon.

Venus is the ‘morning star’ visible above the eastern horizon shortly before dawn.

Mars, Jupiter and Mercury follow behind Venus in the pre-dawn sky, but will be very difficult to see this month.

When to go stargazing this month

Moonlight ‘drowns out’ the faint light of many stars and other celestial objects, so the best time  to view the stars is when the Moon is not visible.  If you’re going to stargaze between sunset and midnight, then the best time to do that this month is during the first five or six days, and during the last week of April.

Finding your star in the night sky

Stars are located within constellations, which are just areas of the night sky. Scorpius, Aries and Taurus are examples of constellations. Your Name A Star Live Star Certificate displays the name of your constellation.

You can use our online World Constellation Guide to determine if you can see your constellation during the evening hours (between sunset and midnight). Of course, you’ll need a telescope to see your star. (That’s why we include the SLOOH online telescope experience in our Deluxe, Framed and Ultimate Gift Sets!) But you can see your constellation without the use of a telescope.

You can also find your constellation by using our Virtual Planetarium™ astronomy software. A planisphere is another useful device.

June 2010 Night Sky

Want to see where your star is in the night sky?

Stars are located within constellations, which are just areas of the night sky. Scorpius, Aries and Taurus are examples of constellations. Your Name A Star Live Star Certificate displays the name of your constellation.

You can use our online World Constellation Guide to determine if you can see your constellation during the evening hours (between sunset and midnight). Of course, you’ll need a telescope to see your star. (That’s why we include the SLOOH online telescope experience in our Deluxe, Framed and Ultimate Gift Sets!) But you can see your constellation without the use of a telescope.

Star-forming galaxies like grains of sand

Thousands of galaxies crowd into this recently-released Herschel Space Observatory image of the distant Universe. Each dot is an entire galaxy containing billions of stars. These galaxies are located in the constellation Ursa Major, one of Name A Star Live's constellations. Credit: European Space Agency

You can also find your constellation by using our Virtual Planetarium™ astronomy software. A planisphere is another useful device.

The Planets This Month

Several planets are visible with the naked eye in May, including Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter.

  • Venus is the bright object you’ll notice in the western sky around sunset this month: It will set in the west a couple of hours after sunset. It is in the constellation Cancer now.
  • Mars is in the constellation is in Leo this month: If you live in the northern hemisphere of Earth, Mars will appear toward the west-southwest after sunset. If you live in the southern hemisphere, Mars will appear toward the north-northwest at sunset.
  • The ringed planet Saturn will be to the east of Mars — in the constellation Virgo. If you live in the northern hemisphere of Earth, look for Saturn toward the southwest after sunset. If you live in the southern hemisphere, look for Saturn toward the northwest after sunset. Like all the other planets, Saturn gradually moves west across the night sky. In fact, Saturn will be visible through most of each night in June.
  • If you’re an early bird, then you might see the mighty planet Jupiter as it rises above the eastern horizon before sunrise this month. Next to Jupiter is the planet Uranus, but you’ll need a telescope to see it.
This illustrates the relative sizes of Uranus, Earth and Earth's Moon. The images are shown at the proper relative size, but not the correct relative distance from each other. Uranus is approximately 31,000 miles (50,000 kilometers) in diameter, or about four times the size of Earth. The Earth is approximately 7,900 miles (12,800 kilometers) in diameter, or about four times the diameter of the Moon, 2,100 miles (3,500 kilometers). Credit: NASA, ESA and L. Sromovsky (University of Wisconsin)
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