Happy Halloween 👻 🧟 🎃 🕸️ 🦇!
Ok, we know that Halloween 2020 will be like no other. No children knocking on the door to demand their candy 🍬, no big spooky Halloween parties, no public family events.
Still, Halloween is tonight and we are planning to make the most of it. Are you with us? Besides, this year’s celebration falls on the night of the Full Moon 🌕 – what a fantastically creepy backdrop!
So gather your family, decorate your house, make some scary looking but deliciously tasting food (important: not the other way around!), put on your Halloween costume 👻 and let’s celebrate!
Today we are going to share with you some blood-chilling hair-raising scream-inducing spooky facts about Space. Because Space is seriously SCA-RY! Are You Ready?
HUMAN NOODLE 🍝
Black holes have a bad reputation. They are known for stretching, or as astronomers say, spaghettifying, the stuff that falls in. Stars, lone planets, wondering humans…it’s all the same to them. But if you are absolutely determined to visit a black hole (it is a one way journey, but you already know that) choose the giant one. Because, when it comes to black holes, the scariest things come in small packages. A supermassive black hole will turn you into a human noodle too, but not as fast as a small black hole. So at least you will get to enjoy the scenery as you fall in.
For more details check out our post Black Holes: the size matters!
Fact check Tidal forces are forces that arise from the difference in gravitational attraction experienced by the ‘near’ and ‘far’ sides of the body being attracted (for more details see tides explained). The most obvious example is the water tides on Earth happening due to the gravitational pull of the Moon and the Sun. But tidal forces affect not only liquids, but solid things too, be it a planet, or a human body.
Imagine you are diving, feet first, into a black hole. Your feet will be experiencing stronger gravitational pull than your head, and therefore will be accelerating faster, stretching you more and more until you snap. Have a nice journey!
A TRIP TO PLANET VENUS, ANYONE?
Planet Venus, our dazzling neighbour, might have been named after the goddess of love and beauty, but make no mistake – this is NOT a place for a human. Step off your spaceship and you will get squashed, baked and poisoned…all at the same time. The Soviet Venera 13 lander holds the Guinness World Record for the longest time survived on Venus by a spacecraft. The submarine-like lander clocked 127 minutes on the hellish Venusian surface before giving up the ghost. How long do you think YOU will survive? 30 seconds? A minute?
Fact check The temperature on the surface of Venus is 460 degrees Celsius. The toxic atmosphere (mostly carbon dioxide) is so dense, that the air pressure on the planet’s surface is 90 times the air pressure you are feeling right now (or about as much as you would feel if you dive to a depth of 1 kilometer).
SPACESUIT: WEAR WITH CAUTION
Spacewalking is dangerous, we know that. But if you have a proper spacesuit and plenty of air to breath, you should be all right,…right? Well, turns out wearing a space suit can be dangerous too.
The first man to conduct a spacewalk was the Soviet cosmonaut Valery Leonov. But his EVA (that’s short for Extra Vehicular Activity) nearly ended in tragedy. Leonov’s spacesuit expanded in the vacuum of space and almost got him stranded outside his spaceship Voskhod 2. Leonov could not squeeze back through the hatch and had to bleed off a lot of his precious oxygen from the suit in order to – literally – get smaller. Luckily, the cosmonaut lived to tell the tale.
Fact check Astronauts wear space suits and helmets in Space for a reason. This equipment creates a warm pressurized environment and provides a wearer with breathable oxygen. Here are Five reasons to put a space suit on when going on a space walk.
LIGHTS OFF! 🌃
Look at the starry sky at night. Isn’t it magical? But one day it will all come to an end and the Universe will get completely dark and freezing cold. There will be nothing left but dead stars, cold planets and black holes. No life will be able to survive.
Fact check You might have heard that the Universe is expanding and that the expansion rate is increasing. As a result, galaxies are getting further away from one another becoming more and more isolated. Once the supply of gas in each galaxy is exhausted, new stars will stop forming, the existing stars will age and the galaxies themselves will gradually fade away.
Luckily, this is only one of the 4 possible scenarios for the end of the Universe. For more doom and gloom check out Four ways to destroy the Universe.
OUT FOR A SWIM? KEEP WALKING! ☱
Imagine wading into a lake only to find that the water is cold beyond imaginable and you cannot stay afloat despite your Olympic swimming skills? Welcome to Titan!
Saturn’s moon Titan is said to be the closest thing to the Earth you can find in the Solar System. With its rocky surface, substantial atmosphere and pools of liquid on the surface it sure sounds like Earth 2-0. But Titan’s lakes and seas are not water, but liquid methane and ethane. And that is a completely different story.
Liquid methane is only half as dense as the water, meaning you will be about as buoyant as a rock and sink straight to the bottom. Swimming out will be difficult. But don’t despair. Provided that you have enough oxygen and a warm spacesuit (the temperature on the Titan’s surface is -178 C), you can simply keep walking along the bottom of the lake towards the shore. You will be fine. Maybe.
BUCKLE YOUR SEAT BELT, DOROTHY! 💨
Not a fan of funfair rides? Think rockets fly too fast? We’ve got bad news for you: you are riding the Earth right now. That means, you are zooming around the Sun at a breathtaking speed of about 30 kilometers per second. That’s right: PER SECOND.
Things get even worse. Our Sun (and the whole Solar System…and you too) circles around the center of our Milky Way Galaxy. Can you guess how fast? 137 miles per second! You better hold on tight!
Something is lurking out there in the dark, something we cannot see. We don’t know what it is, we don’t know what it’s capable of. We call it …something that must not be named. Just kidding, we call it dark matter. Watch out!
Fact check When astronomers added up all the observable matter in the Universe, they realized it is not enough to explain why the stuff, like stars and galaxies, behaves the way it does. There should be more, much more matter out there! This unseen dark matter makes up about 80% of the mass of the Universe. It interacts with a normal matter via gravity and does not reveal itself in any other way. There are several different theories of what the dark matter might be made of. The research is ongoing!
WHAT’S FOR DINNER?
The Universe is full of astro-cannibals: galaxies that consume other galaxies, black holes that feed on the nearby stars, binary companions that eat each other, stars that eat their own planets, planets that tear apart their moons… you name it!
Some 10 billion years ago our own Milky Way gobbled up its smaller neighbour, the dwarf galaxy Gaia-Enceladus. And now Milky Way’s nearest neighbour, Andromeda Galaxy, is coming for us. Four billion years from now the Milky Way will be eaten up. Aren’t you glad that you will not be around to see it?
OK, that’s enough scary stuff for one day 👻.
In short: Yes, Space is seriously spooky. But it is also weird, beautiful and mysterious. It is calling for us to explore it!
Come and explore the wonders and the horrors of the Universe in our portable planetarium!