Category Archives: Solar System

How Many “Official” Moons Does Jupiter Have?

Question: I am writing a piece for middle school students about the planets of our solar system and am trying to find an up-to-date figure for how many moons are officially recognized around Jupiter. I’ve seen figures from 23 to … Continue reading

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Why is the New Horizons Flyby of 2014 MU69 So Much Closer than its Pluto Flyby Distance?

Question: There is talk of New Horizons travelling to another object in the Kuiper Belt. The fly by will be at about 1900 miles, much closer than the fly by of Pluto. How are the distances of observation of these … Continue reading

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What Happens to the Other Planets in the Solar System if Jupiter is Removed?

Question: What would happen to the other planets in the solar system if we removed Jupiter?  — Willie Answer: Instantaneously removing Jupiter from the solar system would have little effect on Earth and the other planets.  This is due to … Continue reading

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Will a Comet Skim the Earth’s Atmosphere in 2016?

Question: I’ve been dealing with a false prophet who says that a comet is coming and is going to skim the earth, as if to skip off of it, like a stone skipping on water.  Is this even possible?  She … Continue reading

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Double Shadow Transits of the Galilean Satellites of Jupiter

Question: Why is there a double shadow transit (i.e. of the Galilean moons) season for Jupiter and why does it occur during the opposition of the Jupiter relative to Earth?  Do DST occur all the time, but during opposition, it … Continue reading

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Can Amateur Astronomers Participate in Asteroid Research?

Question: I neither have a large aperture or fast imaging telescope, neither a large or very sensitive CCD camera. This probably is typical for a lot of amateurs. How can one still truly discover an asteroid in the coming years … Continue reading

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Which Planet Orbits our Sun the Fastest?

Question: Which planet in our solar system is orbiting the sun at the fastest speed?  — Mike Answer: Mercury is the winner at an orbital speed of about 47.87 km/s (107,082 miles per hour), which is a period of about … Continue reading

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Does the Coriolis Effect From the Milky Way Rotation Influence the Orbits of Planets in our Solar System?

Question: I read that our solar system orbits the center of the Milky Way Galaxy and am wondering if orbital direction of the planets was initially influenced by the Coriolis effect.  — Jack Answer: Two comments to your question.  First, … Continue reading

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Building a Pyramid on Io for Maximum Durability

Question: If I were to build a 146 meter tall pyramid on the surface of Io, what material(s) would you recommend I use for maximum durability with respect to the satellite’s terrain and climate?  — Evan Answer: I think that … Continue reading

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Did Our Solar System Originally Include a Fifth Gas Giant?

Question: Read an article that researchers at the University of Toronto believe that Jupiter in the solar system early days kicked a planet out of the solar system . Do you believe this could be the one? Many thanks  — … Continue reading

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