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Bob the Alien's Tour of the Solar System
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Twelve Facts about the Sun

The SunFact One

The official definition of a star like The Sun is a "Yellow G2 Dwarf." It is an average, middle-aged star.

Fact Two

If the Sun was brighter, it would be hotter and would have burnt off its hydrogen fuel billions of years ago. This means that, if the Sun is any different to how it is now, life on Earth would not exist. It is the perfect size, perfect age, perfect distance, perfect temperature and perfect brightness for life to exist on a planet like Earth.

Fact Three

Everytime hydrogen nuclei fuse together to form helium nuclei, which results in a burst of energy, heating up and powering the Sun, the Sun loses a tiny amount of its mass.

Fact Four

If we could remove the bright, glowing surface of the Sun, we would see nothing other than blackness. Only the Sun's outer surface shines brightly. The inside of the Sun is complete darkness.

Fact Five

Light from the Sun takes 8 minutes to reach Earth, 40 minutes to reach Jupiter and 7 hours to reach the edge of the Solar System.

Fact Six

The Sun rises in the east and sets in the west. This is caused by the fact that the Earth spins, and is not due to the Sun moving, and is the same in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres.

Sun setting
The setting Sun. Image published with kind permission of www.startrails.co.uk from Norman Penguin Productions

Fact Seven

In the same way that the planets orbit around the Sun, the Sun orbits around the centre of the Milky Way galaxy, taking 225,000,000 years to complete a full orbit, travelling at 800,000 kilometres per hour.

Fact Eight

Many centuries ago, people believed Earth to be the centre of the Universe, with the Sun as a planet orbiting it. They believed that the Moon was the closest planet, followed by either Mercury, Venus or the Sun in the next closest position, with Jupiter and Saturn orbiting furthest away.

Fact Nine

The Sun was formed, like every other star, from a huge swirling cloud of gas called a nebula. The cloud contained all the matter which went together to form the Sun and its family of planets, moons and hundreds of thousands of asteroids, meteors and comets. In total, 99.8% of the matter in the cloud formed the Sun. The other 0.2% formed all of the other objects in the Solar System. And, just in case you want to know what the mass of the Sun is, it's about 1,989,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 kilograms!

Fact Ten

The Sun's gravitational pull is so strong that, even a dwarf planet 5,900,000,000 kilometres away from it (Pluto) is still kept in orbit of the Sun. There are more dwarf planets even further away than Pluto which are kept in orbit by the Sun.

Fact Eleven

The Sun is almost half-way through its life, and at its most stable point in its lifetime. Eventually, it will increase in size, eating up the Inner Planets and heating up the Outer Planets and their moons, before collapsing to become a very small White Dwarf.

Fact Twelve

If you could take a journey in an normal airliner flying at its normal speed (about 644 km an hour) travelling from Earth to the Sun, it would take 20 years to reach your destination, and that's without stopping.





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The Sun - Mercury - Venus - Earth - The Moon - Mars - Jupiter - Saturn - Uranus - Neptune - Pluto and Dwarf Planets

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Sun Statistics Table


NameThe Sun / Sol
Meaning of NameSol is the Roman god of the Sun
Name in Foreign LanguagesSoleil (French), Sol (Spanish, Portuguese, Latin), Sonne (German), Solnce (Russian), Helios (Greek)
Average Distance from Earth 149,597,890 km / 92,955,820 miles / 1.000 A.U.
Closest Distance to Earth147,100,000 km / 91,400,000 miles / 0.983 A.U.
Farthest Distance from Earth 152,100,000 km / 94,500,000 miles / 1.017 A.U.
Diameter across equator1,391,000 km / 864,300 miles
Comparison with Earth: 12,756 km / 7,926 miles
Diagram showing Sun's size compared to the size of Earth COMING SOON!
Circumference around equator 4,379,000 km / 2,715,000 miles
Comparison with Earth: 40,074 km / 24,901 miles
Mass1,989,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 kg
Comparison with Earth: 5,973,700,000,000,000,000,000,000 kg
Time to spin on Axis25 days, 9 hours
Comparison with Earth: 23 hours, 56 minutes
Time to orbit centre of Galaxy225,000,000 years
Gravity (Earth = 1)28
Escape Velocity2,223,720 km/h / 1,381,760 mph
Comparison with Earth: 40,248 km/h / 25,009 mph
Minimum Surface Temperature3,000c / 5,432 F (in sunspots)
Comparison with Earth: -88 c / -126 F / 185 K
Maximum Surface Temperature5,500c / 9,932 F
Comparison with Earth: 58 c / 136 F / 331 K
Weather ConditionsHot!
Contents of Atmosphere70% hydrogen, 28% helium, 2% other elements (this is the chemical make-up of the entire Sun, which is mostly gaseous)
Known orbiting bodies8 regular planets - Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus (discovered 1751), Neptune (discovered 1846). 
3 dwarf planets - Ceres (discovered 1801), Pluto (discovered 1930), Eris (discovered 2003)
There are also thousands of asteroids and comets in orbit around the Sun
Past Missions (including nationality and year of launch) Helios 1 (USA/Germany, 1974), Helios 2 (USA/Germany, 1976), SolarMax (USA, 1980)
Present MissionsUlysses (USA/Europe, 1990), SOHO (USA/Europe, 1995), STEREO (USA, 2006)
Planned MissionsSolar Dynamics Observatory Mission (2008)