I don't listen to the radio much these days, but did so this morning for some reason. The station I was listening to had a contest to give away concert tickets. The contest was patterned after the Jeff Foxworthy show: Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader, but asked, according to the disk jockey, First Grade questions. Adult contestants, vying for the concert tickets, dropped like flies, unable to answer some the simplest questions. One caller, a student at our local university, got four out of his five questions correct, but was stumped by: How long does it take for the earth to complete one orbit around the sun? His first guess was 40 million light years. He quickly revised his guess and suggested one day as his answer. Was either answer in the ball park?
That's quite a spread, isn't it, from 40 million light years down to one day. One light year is the distance that light, travelling at 186,000 miles per second, travels in 365 days. The distance would be 186,000 miles X 60 seconds X 60 minutes X 24 hours X 365 days in the year, calculated to a result of 5,865,696,000,000 miles. That's five trillion, eight-hundred-and-sixty-five billion, six-hundred-and-ninety-six million miles. Then, multiply that by 40,000,000 to get the total distance. That's a pretty big number, isn't it? If you tried to calculate the result with a calculator, you may have given it a headache.
The correct answer to the question was, of course, one year.
Here, to arm yourselves in case you ever compete for concert tickets on your local radio station, are some interesting astronomical facts:
All figures are approximate.
- Distance of Earth to Sun: 150,000,000 kilometers (93,000,000 miles)
- Distance of Earth to moon: 250,000 kilometers (160,000 miles)
- Speed that Earth travels through space: 100,000 kilometers per hour (67,000 miles per hour)
- If you attempted to count all the stars in a galaxy at a rate of one every second it would take around 3,000 years to count them all.
I don't know everything, but wish I did. Many people know far less than I, but don't care. That's scary.