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12 questions that kids asked about the Sun, the Earth and the Moon

Is your child asking you questions about the universe? Are you researching on the net and found many long scientific papers that are too difficult to read and understand? In this article, we have summarised our research findings and provided bite-size explanation and answers to 12 questions that your school going kids will be asking you about the universe.

1. What is the Milky Way?

When you see a broad band of faint light in the night sky, that’s the Milky Way, the galaxy we are in.

2. What is a galaxy?

A galaxy is a gigantic collection of stars, planets, gas, dust and other matter. Our Sun is just one of the billions of stars in the Milky Way, the galaxy we are in.

Astronomers estimated that there are about 200 billion galaxies in the entire universe.

Milky Way

Image by John from Pixabay

3. How our Sun was formed?

Our Sun is a star. Like all stars, it is a huge ball of super hot gas. It is formed from a spinning cloud of gas and dust called nebula. As the nebula continue to spin, gravity pulled gas particles on the outer edge of the cloud to fall to the centre.  As more and more gas particles fell inward, the gravitational pull become stronger, the inner core become hotter and the increased pressure force atomic nuclei to fuse, leading to nuclear fusion, releasing tremendous energy. This is the point where the nebula become a star.

 

Scientists have discovered that when the Sun first began, it was 500 times the brightness of today. It took 100,000 years for the Sun to reach a brightness that was twice of what it is today. Then it took another 4.5 billion years to reduce to its present day state of brightness.

 

Milky Way

The life cycle of the Sun. Image by IAU/E. Guinan, CC BY 4.0,  via Wikimedia Commons.

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4. What is a Supernova?

A Supernova is a gigantic explosion when a massive star dies or when two stars orbit one another and at least one of those stars is an Earth-sized white dwarf. A white dwarf is what’s left after a star the size of our sun has run out of fuel. If one white dwarf collides with another or pulls too much matter from its nearby star, the white dwarf can explode. 

 

Our Earth is a planet, not a star

planet is a large object that orbits a star. By definition, an object is called a planet if it satisfies the following criteria:

  1. It must revolve (orbit) around a star;
  2. It is large enough for gravity to force it into a round shape;
  3. It must also be large enough for gravity to have cleared away any rocky or icy objects from its path as it orbits around a star.

 

5. What is the difference between a star and a planet?

Stars experience nuclear fusion, the process of combining tiny particle called atoms to release energy. Nuclear fusion creates radiation (heat and light) and makes stars glow. Planets do not have nuclear fusion. So they do not produce their own light. Instead, they shine with light reflected from a star. Astronomers estimated that there are 100-400 billion stars and at least that number of planets in the Milky Way.

 

6. How the Earth was formed?

Scientists believed that about 4.5 billion years ago, after the Sun was formed, bits of dust and gas continued circling the young Sun. These gas and dust collide and stuck together to form a thick cloud that grew bigger and bigger as other particles were joined to it. The heavy particles were drawn closer and closer by gravity towards the center and began to heat up from the inside until all the material melted. Lighter material such as water vapour and other gases moved to the surface.

 

Milky Way

Image by PIRO from Pixabay

7. How the Moon was formed?

As for the Moon, there were several theories proposed by scientists. The one most believed is that the Moon was formed when a large object (about the size of Mars ) collided with the cloud of Earth particles. The high speed melted and vaporize rock and metal from Earth and the impacting object. Gravitational forces then pulled the debris together, forming the Moon.

Our Earth revolves around the Sun

Earth revolves around the Sun in an elliptical path called the orbit of earth. It takes 365 days, 5 hours, 59 minutes and 16 seconds to complete 1 revolution.

 

Milky Way

 Image by Gothika., CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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8. What is the Solar System?

Our Sun, and everything (planets, dwarf planets, asteroids, comets, and meteoroids) revolving the Sun due to gravity make up the Solar System. Astronomers had discovered that Earth and 7 other planets revolve around our Sun. Earth is the 5th  biggest of the 8 planets and it is the 3rd nearest planet to the Sun. 

Our Earth rotates about its own axis

In addition to revolving around (orbiting) a star, planets also spin (rotate) about an axis which is an imaginary line that runs through its center. As shown in the diagram, Earth’s axis is slightly tilted at angle of 23.5o  from the vertical.

 

Milky Way

 Image by Gothika., CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

9. How we get our Day and Night?

The time taken for planets to make one complete rotation about its own axis is called a Day. As shown in the diagram below, the side of the Earth facing the Sun will be having day time while the side of the Earth facing away from the Sun will be having night time.

 

Image by 51581 from Pixabay

A day on Earth is 24 hours. Every planet spins about its own axis at different speed. The length of a Day for each planet in terms of Earth hours are as shown below the name of each planets.

 

Image by 51581 from Pixabay

 

10. Does the Moon has a role?

Scientists have discovered that without the moon, a day on earth would only last 6 to 12 hours. The Moon actually slows down the Earth’s rotation because of the gravitational pull. The Moon is also responsible for keeping the tilt of our Earth’s axis stable. Without this stability, the Earth might tilt too much or not tilt at all leading to extreme seasons or no seasons at all. Without the Moon, our ocean tides will also be at least 1/3 higher!

Milky Way

Image by NASA/JPL, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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11. How we get our seasons?

Seasons are caused by Earth’s revolution around the Sun and the tilt of the Earth’s axis.

In March and September, the Northern and Southern Hemisphere receive the same share of the Sun’s rays. The Northern Hemisphere that was experiencing winter in December is now getting more sun rays and hence enters into spring time. The Southern Hemisphere that was having long hours of day in summer is now getting lesser hours of sun and hence enters into autumn.

Above image by Tauʻolunga, Public Domain,via Wikipedia Commons

 

 

12. Does Science contradict the Bible?

 

 

Background photo by Sixteen Miles Out on Unsplashed

Here’s in the Bible:

In Genesis 1:3, God spoke light into existence. Then in Genesis 1:16, God specifically mentioned two lights,  one to rule the day and the other to rule the night.

Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  (Genesis 1:3)

God made two great lights—the larger one to govern the day, and the smaller one to govern the night. He also made the stars. (Genesis 1:16)

 

We all know that the one to rule the day is the Sun and the one to rule the night is the moon. So what is the light in Genesis 1:3?

 

Now that research has shown that the Sun began with a cloud (nebula) of gas and dust. When it became a star, it was 500 times brighter than what it is today and it took 4.6 billion years for the Sun to reach its present state of brightness and stability.

This means that the light mentioned in Genesis 1:3 must be referring to the state of the Sun before it reached its stable state.

 

Science and Scriptures..

In Genesis 1:2 it is written that the earth was formless and empty. Darkness was on the surface of the deep:

The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. (Genesis 1:2)

Now that scientists have discovered that the Earth was formed from a disc of dust and gas, and it was formed after the Sun, Genesis 1:2 was indeed describing a time where the Sun was still some gases and had not reached the stage of nuclei fusion where it released light energy. The Earth was also not yet formed, probably just clumps of dust.

So you see, Science can only prove that the Scriptures in the Bible is true. There is no contradiction between Science and Scriptures.

 

Think about it!

If we are positioned just a little further from the Sun, it will be too cold. If we are positioned just a little nearer to the Sun, it will be too hot for us to survive. If the speed of Earth rotating about its axis is longer, just like in the case of Venus, we might only see sunrise twice a year. If the Earth is not tilted at an axis, we will not have the four seasons. If there is no Moon to make this tilt stable, we will be experiencing wild seasons. If our day is longer than 24 hours (like Venus), how can our body go without the night rest?

Who calculates all these so precisely? Certainly there is a Creator of this universe whose wisdom is so infinite. Above all, He must have set everything in place out of His love for mankind to enable us to live comfortably.