10 Sky and Space Blunders

November 19, 2018
Night Sky Blunders

See ten common astronomy blunders that we’ll help you avoid!

Let’s start with the equinox. We read each year that days and nights are equal on the equinox. But if you looked at your local newspaper’s listing of sunrise and sunset, you saw those times didn’t match. There was more day than night.

Astronomy mistakes are prevalent even when it’s not the equinox. Here’s a top 10 list of space and astronomy blunders.

  1. Total solar eclipses do not make the day pitch black. It’s brighter during totality than during a full Moon.
  2. It’s wrong to say the Moon doesn’t spin. It whirls completely around every two weeks.
  3. Water does not spiral down drains in different directions in different hemispheres. It goes down randomly.  
  4. From Pluto, the Sun is not “just a bright star.” From there, the Sun is an unbearably dazzling point of light 300 times brighter than the full Moon—too dangerous to look at. If Pluto had an atmosphere like ours, the Sun would make it look blue.

  5. Space Station astronauts do not float around because they’ve escaped Earth’s gravity. There’s 90% as much gravity 230 miles up as there is in your bathtub. Orbiting astronauts are merely falling freely.

  6. The Moon does not have a permanent “dark side.” Writers often allude to the “dark side” of the Moon when they really mean the “far side.”

  7. Mars is not red, any more than a pumpkin is red. It’s orange-red, due to the iron in its soil. mars_full_width.jpg

  8. Meteors are not hot when they land. The lower atmosphere’s subzero temperatures cool them before they hit the ground.

  9. The sky is not blue because it’s reflecting our blue oceans. Actually, it’s blue because the light from the Sun scatters when it reaches Earth’s atmosphere—and the shorter, smaller waves are blue. ocean_full_width.jpg

  10. Black holes do not suck up stars or planets; their diet is almost entirely subatomic particles.

Hope you found this interesting. Actually, I just needed to vent.

About This Blog

Welcome to “This Week’s Amazing Sky,” the Almanac’s hub for everything stargazing and astronomy. Bob Berman, longtime and famous astronomer for The Old Farmer’s Almanac, will help bring alive the wonders of our universe. From the beautiful stars and planets to magical auroras and eclipses, he covers everything under the Sun (and Moon)! Bob, the world’s mostly widely read astronomer, also has a new weekly podcast, Astounding Universe