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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: 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 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 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 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 fast is the solar wind?

Answer: A very interesting questions this about the speed of the solar wind. This depends on conditions in and around the sun and how particularly active it is at the time and therefore varies greatly. It moves between around 200 to 900 kilometers per second. 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: 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 many planets are in the new solar system?

Answer: At the time of writing the new solar system has not been agreed officially, however it appears that there will be 12 planets in the new solar system, having gone up from 9 previously.

The new additions would be Ceres, Charon and an obscurely named object far away from the sun called 2003 UB319 - really needs to have a catchier name assigned to it! Source:
Question: How old is our earth?

Answer: Of course, no one knows exactly how old the earth is, however science can give what it believes to be accurate estimates of the age of the earth using various dating techniques.

At present, the generally accepted estimate is that the Earth is between some 4.5 to 4.6 billion years old. This is based partly on radiometric dating techniques and partly on extrapolation back in time and looking at the universe around us. Source:
Question: How far from earth, is the moon?

Answer: The Mean Distance of Moon from Earth is 238,712 miles (384,400 km).

The greatest distance is 252,586 miles.

The shortest distance is 221,331 miles.

Interestingly, the Moon used to be much closer to the earth, and may have had a pivotal role in the evolution of life on the planet and the whole history of the planet before us, that led to our creation.

The implication of this is also that the Moon will not always be with us - the Earth is slowly losing its grip on the M 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: Did water come from comets?

Answer: One interesting theory is that most of the water came to earth from comets.

The idea is that loads of small comets, about the size of small houses, come into the atmosphere every day.

They vaporize in the atmosphere, leaving their water behind.

The idea is that 10 of these very minute for billions of years over the course of the history of the planet would lead to virtually all the water in the oceans and atmosphere!

This would be significant, as it would give an alte Source:
Question: If gravity only attracts mass and if light does not have mass why does it appear to bend when passing a planet?

Answer: Under general relativity, it is seen that gravity can literally warp space-time around it.

Therefore, anything that passes through the gravitational warping will itself be influenced.

Around a massive object like the sun, there is a slight warping of space-time, and therefore everything that passes through that is affected.

This is what causes the slight bending, you notice in light waves even though they cannot have mass in the standard model (as it takes infinite energy to 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 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: Is the Moon escaping the earth?

Answer: The answer seems to be yes, the moon is gradually escaping from the earth's gravitational pull.

However, it is possible that this will reach a steady state, when the pull of the moon is less on the earth it will slow down or stop the rate at which the earth is slowing down its spin from the friction caused. This in turn will place a greater pull back on the moon and hence it may reach a steady distance from the earth. 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 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:

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