Follow the reluctant adventures in the life of a Welsh astrophysicist sent around the world for some reason, wherein I photograph potatoes and destroy galaxies in the name of science. And don't forget about my website,

Sunday 2 April 2017

Ask An Astronomy Anything At All About Astronomy (XXXVI)

The questions are seemingly inexhaustible. I'm beginning to think they'll never end. Who knew space could be so complicated ?

They say there are no stupid questions. They should read questions 4 and 5 in full. Then they should skip down just past question 8, where there's a special surprise this week. Honestly, I dunno whether to despair that the current generation are such complete nincompoops or rejoice that the next one already looks to be considerably better.

1) What term should we use to describe systems of planets around other stars ?
Microsoft® Windows SuperPlanets Professional Home Edition (Service Pack 1).

2) What about that alternative to dark matter ?
It's too complicated and smells of fish.

3) There are so many other explanations instead of dark matter, is dark matter as good as the others ?
No, it's better.

4) Is this black hole heading towards Earth, and if not why are they reporting it ?
No, and because of liberal media bias.

5) Can black holes move through space ?
Yes, but only on Tuesdays.

6) Can gravitational waves fling black holes around ?
Wheeee !

7) Could we move a black hole with an electric charge ?
Yes, but if I had to choose I think I'd feel safer inside the hole - and that's not sarcasm.

8) I think this article about black holes is wrong, but I'm not going to tell you why.
Well okay then.
- No, but seriously, I insist on not telling you why.
I don't think you understand how this works.
- I'm going to keep talking anyway about how I won't tell you why it's wrong.
Please don't.

SPECIAL EDITION ! This week I received my first ever hand-written (!) questions from 7 year old Daniel Phillips. Daniel rightly understands that the best person to ask about astronomy is not his mummy or daddy but an astronomer (well what did you expect when his daddy studied philosophy ?). So I hope that these answers will be basically correct and that they'll make sense to Daniel. I don't normally record the name of who's asking (for all sorts of reasons) but I'll make an exception in this case.

I've put your questions in a different order, Daniel, because I think this will make the answers easier to understand.

1) How many stars are in the sky ?

2) Is the Moon a giant asteroid ?
Your mum's not a giant asteroid.

3) What is the Sun ?
Hot !

4) What are the stars ?
Also hot.

5) How many planets are in the Solar System ?
Some of them.

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