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Astronomy Interview Questions & Answers - Learning Mode

Astronomy Interview Questions & Answers - Learning Mode

Astronomy, a natural science, is the study of celestial objects (such as stars, galaxies, planets, moons, asteroids, comets and nebulae) and processes (such as supernovae explosions, gamma ray bursts, and cosmic microwave background radiation), the physics, chemistry, and evolution of such objects and processes, and more generally all phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth. A related but distinct subject, physical cosmology, is concerned with studying the Universe as a whole.

Try Astronomy Interview Questions & Answers - Exam Mode

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Astronomy Interview Questions & Answers - Learning Mode
Try Astronomy Interview Questions & Answers - Exam Mode
Question: How many stars are there in the whole universe?

Answer: No one knows the absolute answer to this very interesting question, but many would love to know what the answer is!

We can at the least say the number is so huge that we cannot comprehend it; given that there are billions of stars in each galaxy and there may be for all we know trillions of galaxies then the number is truly collosal.

It is also of course in a constant state of flux as stars are born and other stars die or collide and change state - therefore the number is also ever Source:
Question: Do black holes really exist?

Answer: As far as we can tell, they do exist, yes. Whilst no one has directly seen a black hole, they are of course dark objects so light cannot be seen; the effects of them can be seen.

Specifically the massive gravitational field and its impact can be observed at the centre of galaxies where the orbits of stars and matter do all sorts of crazy things from the intense gravitational pulls, so objects that behave consistently with the behavior of black holes at the centre of galaxies have had thei Source:
Question: How was the moon formed?

Answer: How the moon formed is a good question. Over time, the theories have abounded as to how the moon was formed, and what it consists of.

The current theory that seems to fit the facts the best is that it is actually very old earth rocks. At some stage a huge collision took a massive chunk of rock out of the earth and flung it out into space - this rock became the moon.

If a human was to float in space and he look up would there be other planets on top of the planets in out galaxy. He Source:
Question: How long is a day on Saturn?

Answer: A day on Saturn is hard to measure, however scientists now believe that the value of a day on Saturn in terms of length is around 10 hours and as such being ten hours compared to our 24 it is less hours than a day on earth. Source:
Question: How big is Venus?

Answer: In terms of size, Venus is the most like Earth, although not in terms of planetary conditions, climate, or hospitability for life.

Venus is 95% the size of earth. In terms of the density of the planet, it is very close to earth. It is 30% closer to the Sun than the earth is. It is also incredibly hot - around 880 degrees Fahrenheit at times, and sulphuric acid rain. The planet has a runaway greenhouse effect problem. Source:
Question: How many earths can fit into Jupiter s great red spot?

Answer: The great red spot is a storm on Jupiter that has been raging for around 300 years or so - that is when it was first spotted.

That is quite a storm really is not it, and we do not know when it will die out. It is also rather large as the question implies.

The answer is that it is estimated something in the region of two earths would fit into the great red spot alone, which gives some idea of the colossal scale of the gas giant that is Jupiter in comparison to the smaller ball of ro Source:
Question: How many moons does Jupiter have?

Answer: This is difficult to call. The stable figure for several years was 16. However, recently another 23 or so moons have been discovered and are currently being classified.

As we study the planet more and more, and with more sophisticated technology, more and smaller objects are noted. Whether these count as moons or just clumps of rock caught in orbit by the planet is highly debatable. The total count of moons for Jupiter, as at May 2005, was a staggering 63! Source:
Question: How is Venus like Earth?

Answer: Venus is like Earth in some ways, mainly cosmetic, but very different in others.

However until we studied Venus in general it was thought to be a sister planet but the reality is very different. In terms of similarities are the two main facts:

1) It is the closest to Earth in the solar system, very close indeed in planetary terms

2) The second thing is that it is a small rocky planet, of almost the same size as earth

However as you will see in the differences to Earth Source:
Question: How many moons does Uranus have?

Answer: Uranus has 27 moons. This means it has more moons than any other planet in the solar system, apart from Jupiter and Saturn.

However, it has more than twice the number of moons of the next planet in the list - Neptune. Source:
Question: How is Venus different to earth?

Answer: Venus is different to planet earth in quite profound ways. We focus, being alive, on the fact that Venus could surely not support life. This focuses us in on some massive differences between the two planets.

First, up, Venus rotates extremely slowly compared to earth.

It also has a magnetic field that is almost non-existent - not good for life! Of course, the temperature means it is so dry and there is hardly any water.

There is extreme pressure on the surface and temperatur Source:
Question: How long is a year on Saturn?

Answer: Saturn is much further from the Sun than the Earth is. Therefore, for it to complete its orbit around the sun once takes much longer than for Earth due to the much wider circle it has to go around in order orbiting (well, ellipse).

Therefore, the length of a year on Saturn is approximately 29.5 Earth years.

So if you want to feel a lot younger and be a child again, define your age in Saturn years instead of Earth years! Source:
Question: How many moons does Neptune have?

Answer: Neptune is the planet with the fourth most moons in the solar system. The planet has 13 moons.

The planets with more moons are Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus, in descending order of number of moons. Source:
Question: How many moons do Ceres have?

Answer: Ceres is a big asteroid that has just become a wannabe planet in the new solar system, unbelievably, or at least is a pluton. Source:
Question: How many planets are now in the solar system?

Answer: There are now eight planets in the solar system, as Pluto has been demoted to a planetoid along with its moon Charon that has been promoted to that status along with the largest asteroid called Ceres. Source:
Question: How many black holes are there?

Answer: We do not know for sure, 100%, that there are any black holes. However, beyond reasonable doubt, when the compact object in an X-ray binary system is shown to be more massive than about 3 times the mass of the Sun, then this compact object is a black hole.

With regard how many there are in total, it is thought that many, perhaps most; galaxies contain a massive black hole in their centers. If this is the case, then there will be almost as many black holes as galaxies - a great number! Source:
Question: How big is the universe?

Answer: There is an edge to what we are able to see in the universe. The most distant galaxies we can now see are 10 or 12 billion light-years away. We could never see a galaxy that is farther away in light travel time than the universe is old, e.g. estimated 14 billion years. Thus, we are surrounded by a "horizon" that we cannot look beyond that. This horizon describes the visible universe?a region some 28 billion light years in diameter. Source:
Question: Do galaxies interact?

Answer: Of course we have no direct evidence of galaxies interacting but it does appear that they can and do, and are at this very moment, interacting.

Usually a violent and energetic affair, galaxies interacting will cause much destruction of existing material and then result in a product phase of much star formation and activity as the repercussions are felt throughout the galaxy. Source:
Question: How can space expand faster than the speed of light?

Answer: Although nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, when space is expanding itself then things can move further than light does in a period - this is because it is not a particle that is traveling it is the fabric of space itself.

Space can expand at a rate that has not been determined but will not expanded to be bound by the movement of light or particles, so if the fabric of space itself expands then things can effectively be moved apart from each other at faster than light spee Source:
Question: How have some stars had time to die since the universe began?

Answer: This often confuses people that there are stars that have been through their entire life cycle yet there are many stars still forming.

Well part of the answer is that a large star burns quicker and dies quicker so might have its whole life cycle in the fraction of the time a star as if our own Sun does which is perhaps mid sized.

Therefore, it might take a billion years for a large star to go through its lifecycle and if stars started to form around a billion years after the big ba Source:
Question: How do clouds form?

Answer: Clouds are formed as part of the water cycle. Effectively, warm air rises. Indeed, water vapor rises, as it is lighter than air.

However, as it rises through the sky, higher and higher up, the air is colder.

This causes the water vapor to condense and it turns to liquid droplets. This is what causes a cloud to form and condense.

When the density is high enough, the water escapes from the cloud and falls to earth as a cloud. Source:

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