The extent of our solar system
Of all the planets our solar system has to offer, Saturn is the most beautiful. With over 60 moons, it’s kind of a miniature solar system unto itself. Saturn is about 1 billion miles from the sun. Don’t forget though. The sun (Sol), is approximately. 870,000 miles in diameter (not circumference). That’s almost as wide as Saturn is far! So it’s pull is still strong enough to hold this mighty beast in place.
Since light leaves the sun traveling at 670 million miles per hour, it will pass Earth in about 8 minutes. That means we are seeing the sun how it looked 8 minutes ago. Light from the sun will pass Jupiter in about 45 minutes. It will take about an hour and 45 minutes for it to reach Saturn. Two other gas giants Uranus (Uranus?) and Neptune (each about a billion miles further), are also held in place by the sun.
The Oort Cloud
‘The Oort cloud (/ˈɔrt/ or /ˈʊərt/) or Öpik–Oort cloud, named after Dutch astronomer Jan Oort and Estonian astronomer Ernst Öpik, is a spherical cloud of predominantly icy planetesimals believed to surround the Sun at a distance of up to 50,000 AU (0.8 ly). This places the cloud a quarter of the distance to Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to the Sun. The Kuiper belt and the scattered disc, the other two reservoirs of trans-Neptunian objects, are less than one thousandth as far from the Sun as the Oort cloud. The outer limit of the Oort cloud defines the cosmographical boundary of the Solar System and the region of the Sun’s gravitational dominance.‘
Ion power produces very little thrust. The good news is that it only takes half the mass of conventional liquid fuel to equal the same performance. If we continue to push the space craft using ion power, it can reach great speeds! If we built a space-craft enormous enough to hold a huge amount of this fuel, it would reach Neptune in about 85 days, which is lightning fast by present standards. No such mission is in the works at present, though NASA (Need Another Seven Astronauts) does plan upon this enormous undertaking sometime in the not too distant future. So yes! We will be going to the stars! Well within 50 years in fact, round trip commercial flights to the gas giants of the solar system will be common place…
Using Microsoft’s: ‘World Wide Telescope’, easily accessible from the menu at the top of my blog, I’ve assembled a slide show to show you what the program can do. It IS an actual ‘powerful’ telescope aimed at the sky, that you can set the co-ordinates to for your area, and it will follow the movement of the heavens in real time. Included, are some open cluster shots that can be used for real, night sky backgrounds in some of your pictures. Some extreme close ups of Mars are also available. Some deep space objects include information I’ve gleaned from Wikipedia.
Wikipedia has a massive library of information concerning Astronomy. Just type: Astronomy in it’s search engine, and you’re away and running. Typing in: ‘Jupiter’s moons’ for instance, will return extensive information on all 62 of them… ‘World Wide Telescope’ is a free program to use, and a fascinating tool to explore the heavens if you can’t afford a massive telescope. The images of Saturn, Jupiter The antenna nebula come from other sources. The double cluster comes from Wikipedia. Double click a picture to view slide-show…