International Space Station

Can you imagine living on the International Space Station for half a year?

  • The International Space Station, also known as the ‘ISS’, is a space station that takes approximately 90 minutes to orbit the Earth; has been used or visited by individuals from 15 nations; and is continuously manned by astronauts.
  • The primary use of the International Space Station is for scientific research and tests, mainly for spatial, biological, astronomical, gravitational, physical and meteorological purposes.
  • In 2015, the International Space Station was only able to be accessed through the Russian rocket Soyuz, although American rockets had also been used up until 2011.
  • The International Space Station is roughly 72.8 metres (239 feet) in length and 108.5 metres (356 feet) in width, with an approximate height of 20 metres (66 feet).
  • In 1998, the first part of the International Space Station was placed in space, and in excess of 40 missions over the years, have enabled different modules to be added to the structure, though the station may retire between 2020 and 2024.
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The International Space Station
Image courtesy of NASA/Wikimedia Commons
  • The International Space Station is powered through solar electricity, although there is a rough 35 minute lapse that occurs when the sun is hidden from view, thus causing the station to depend on rechargeable nickel-hydrogen batteries during this period.
  • Typically, up to six people are sent to the International Space Station on a single expedition, although it has the capacity to house seven, and they generally live at the station for half a year at a time.
  • Days at the International Space Station generally begin at 6 am and end at 9.30 pm, and the astronauts, who encounter 16 sunsets and sunrises per earth day, are required to exercise to prevent body dysfunction, and to particularly keep bones and muscles in good condition.
  • The cost of building the International Space Station was around US$100 billion, and the ongoing expenses associated with the station are generally covered by the participating countries.
  • The International Space Station appears as a white dot in the sky when viewed from the Earth, and is detectable due to sunlight reflecting from the station.
International Space Station, 2015, Wikipedia,
International Space Station, n.d, ESA,
Sharp T, International Space Station: Facts, History & Tracking, 2015,,


Olympus Mons

Olympus Mons is reserved for the mightiest mountain.

  • Olympus Mons is an extremely large volcano located on the surface of Mars, and it is a shield volcano created by lava piling.
  • Despite the belief that it is one of Mars’ more recent volcanoes, Olympus Mons is the largest discovered volcano in the known solar system.
  • Olympus Mons sits approximately 22 kilometres (13.7 miles) high above datum (zero level), or 26 kilometres (16 miles) above the plains, while Earth’s tallest mountain, Mount Everest is around a third the size, sitting 8.8 km (5.5 miles) above sea level.
  • Olympus Mons has a diameter slightly larger than 600 kilometres (373 miles) and the volcano’s name can be translated from Latin into ‘Mount Olympus’.
  • The location of Olympus Mons is situated in part of Mars’ dustiest areas, which, among other reasons, renders the site unsuitable for rover analysis.
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Olympus Mons (Centre)
Image courtesy of the Lunar and Planetary Institute/Flickr
  • Olympus Mons’ considerable height was predicted during the mid to late 1800s, by Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli, and possibly others.
  • The enormous size of Olympus Mons is thought to be due to the lack of strong gravitational pulls and tectonic plates that exist on Earth, that normally prevent lava from piling significantly.
  • When the American probe Mariner 9 circled Mars from late 1971 to late 1972, Olympus Mons’ high peak was confirmed, and its volcanic nature was determined.
  • ‘Olympus Mons’ was originally named ‘Nix Olympia’, or ‘Olympic Snow’ when translated from Latin, until further details were returned from the Mariner 9 probe.
  • Olympus Mons is a similar colouring to the surface of planet Mars, a reddish rusty brown colour.
Olympus Mons, 2015, Wikipedia,
Olympus Mons is How Tall?, n.d, The Martian Chronicles,
Redd N, Olympus Mons: Giant Mountain of Mars, 2013,,


Star of Bethlehem

Matthew 2:2b NIV

“We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

  • The ‘Star of Bethlehem’ is also known as the ‘Christmas Star’.
  • The Star of Bethlehem was the star that showed the place of Jesus Christ’s birth, particularly guiding the magi.
  • The Star of Bethlehem has puzzled many astronomers, and many have tried to make a connection to unusual, historical, star-like events in space.
  • Of the four gospels in the Bible, only the gospel of Matthew mentions the Star of Bethlehem.
  • During the estimated time of Jesus’ birth, a comet or nova was seen in China, which seemed to be stationary for 70 days, and many link a connection to the Star of Bethlehem.
Star of Bethlehem
A Star
Image courtesy of Lehigh Valley, PA/Flickr
  • Some religious groups believe the Star of Bethlehem was a comet or shining angels.
  • The Star of Bethlehem is often depicted in art as a comet, angel holding a star or a large, bright star with many different designs.
  • The Star of Bethlehem is often mentioned in Christmas carols, such as the ‘Three Kings’ or ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’.
  • Some astronomers suggest that the Star of Bethlehem could have been an alignment of planets, which occurred during the time of Jesus’ birth.
  • Some theories regarding the Star of Bethlehem suggest that a single planet was the star, specifically ‘Uranus’, although it would have been difficult to see without technology.
Gill V, Star of Bethlehem: Astronomical Explanations, 2012, BBC,
Star of Bethlehem, 2013, Wikipedia,


Neil Armstrong

“That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” – Neil Armstrong; spoken after the first step on the moon.

  • Neil Armstrong (born ‘Neil Alden Armstrong’) was born on 5 August, 1930 in Ohio, United States, and his parents were Stephen Koenig Armstrong and Viola Louise Engel.
  • Neil Armstrong was a NASA astronaut, who was famous for being the first person to set foot on the moon, where he moved around for approximately two and a half hours, on 21 July, 1969.
  • Neil Armstrong died at 82 years of age on 25 August, 2012, in Ohio, due to cardiovascular surgery complications; and his ashes were scattered at sea.
  • Neil Armstrong journeyed through many careers including engineering, aircraft, test piloting, university education and business.
  • Among other awards and honous, Neil Armstrong was awarded three significant medals: the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1969), Congressional Space Medal of Honour (1978), and Congressional Gold Medal (2009).

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Armstrong in Apollo 11
Image courtesy of Recuerdos de Pandora/Flickr
  • Neil Armstrong married Janet Shearon in 1956, whom he met while she was studying, and subsequently had three children (one died at a young age), and then he married Carol Knight in 1994, after he divorced Janet.
  • Neil Armstrong was appointed to aircraft training in the navy, in 1949, performed 78 tasks in the Korean war, and retired in 1960.
  • Neil Armstrong participated in two major space projects of NASA’s: Project Gemini, for advancements in space travel, and Project Apollo, for the first person on the moon.
  • Neil Armstrong was involved in a few legal issues, which included Hallmark’s illegal use of his quotes and other information, and his barber selling his hair for $3,000.
  • In his whole life, Neil Armstrong spent only a little more than eight and a half days in space.
Bibliography, 2012, NASA,
Neil Armstrong, 2013, Wikipedia,



The light of the night, the Moon.

  • The fifth biggest moon, or ‘natural satellites’ as they are called, in our solar system is the Moon, and it orbits the Earth.
  • We only ever see one face of the Moon because it takes 27.3 days to complete one revolution on its axis and one orbit around the Earth.
  • Humans only see the Moon because it reflects the light of the sun, and when you can see the moon, it outshines anything else in the night sky.
  • The Moon is believed to have a small, hot core like the Earth, and it contains a significant amount of iron and magnesium as well as other natural materials.
  • The Moon has many craters that will never disappear due to the lack of weather on the rock.

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  • The Moon has temperatures that range from -153°C to 134°C (-243°F to 273°F) depending on the position of the Moon and the sun.
  • The Moon is responsible for tidal changes on Earth due to the gravitational force it creates, and low tides and high tides occur depending on which side of the Earth the Moon is on.
  • The first spacecraft to visit and observe the Moon was sent by the Soviet Union in 1959, while the first humans to land on the moon was in 1969 in the spacecraft Apollo 11.
  • The Moon is approximately 384,400 km (238,855 miles) from the Earth, although this varies due to the way it orbits the Earth.
  • It is believed that more accidents occur on nights of a full moon since the gravitational force pulls at the brain’s fluids, but no proven evidence exists.
Choi C, Earth’s Moon: Formation, Composition and Orbit, 2013, <>
Moon, Wikipedia, 2013, <>


Planet Jupiter

Jupiter, the king of the planets, can be seen by the naked eye.

  • Jupiter is the fourth brightest ‘star/light’ in the sky and is made from gases and liquids.
  • Jupiter is named after the king of the Roman gods (Jupiter), due to the way it shines brightly and the way it moves among the stars.
  • Jupiter has more than 67 moons and counting.  The first four moons of Jupiter were discovered in 1610 by Italian astronomer, Galileo.
  • The first close-up photo of Jupiter was taken in 1973 by the space probe Pioneer 10.  The first rings were discovered by the space probe Voyager 1 in 1979 and are made from the dust of Jupiter’s inner moons.
  • Jupiter is averagely 778 330 000 km (483 340 000 miles) away from the sun.
Planet Jupiter, Great Red Spot, Ganymede Moon, Three Colour, NASA NSSDC Gallery, Ten Random Facts
Photo courtesy of NASA – NSSDC (Broken Link)
  • On Jupiter, 1 day (rotation) takes 9.83 earth hours and 1 year (Jupiter’s orbit of the sun) takes 11.86 earth years, the orbit being an almost perfect circle.
  • Jupiter is the heaviest planet and weighs approximately 317.89 times of Earth’s mass and its diameter is 142 984 km (88 793 miles).
  • The colour of the clouds of Jupiter are orange, brown, red, cream and white.  The winds on Jupiter are caused from the heat of the sun and there is a storm raging on the planet called the Great Red Spot.
  • The magnetic field of Jupiter is ten times stronger than Earth’s field.
  • Jupiter gives off strange radio signals and produces lots of heat.
Birch, R 2004, Jupiter, Macmillian Education, South Yarra


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