Moon jupiter and venus alignment smiley face

Space Oddities – Part I

By Anupum Pant


During the past few days, I came across a couple of interesting things related to space, which I felt were worth sharing. Individually, none of them could have been made into a good long article. So, I thought of compiling a list of these amusing post-lets to form a single good read.

Also, in the words of Chris Hadfield: Since Space is profound, endless, a textured black, a bottomless eternal bucket of untouchable velvet and untwinkling stars, it is a place that holds infinite possibilities for me to collect more of such amusing ideas. Therefore, I have suffixed the title of this post with a phrase – Part 1 – that leaves an open possibility for other such articles. If you’d like to contribute snippets for the upcoming parts of this post, you can get in touch with me. [About Page]

Space oddities begin

1. A year in Venus:

Two facts. Venus rotates on its axis only once every 243 earth days. It orbits the sun every 224.64 earth days. But, both of these things put together mean that on Venus, a day is longer than a year. Or simply put, almost everyday is everyone’s birthday. Wonderful, isn’t it?
Also, Venus rotates backwards. So, the sun as seen from Venus, rises from the west and sets in the east. The rotation is so slow that it is unable to generate a magnetic field like earth.

2. International Space Station:

Floating around in the ISS, it is often possible for an astronaut to get struck floating in the middle of a room when walls are out of reach. To get out of such a position, astronauts have to be patient and have use the drafts of light crosswinds from fans or call for help for a physical push. – [Source]

3. Going from ‘a planet’ to ‘not a planet’:

Discovered in 1930, Pluto was originally classified as the ninth planet from the Sun. In the year 2006, this definition excluded Pluto and reclassified it as a member of the new “dwarf planet” category.
For the whole time during which Pluto was a planet, it did not complete even half a orbit. That means within half a Pluto year, it went from being called a planet to not a planet. Sad.
Today, Pluto is the tenth-most-massive body observed directly orbiting the Sun or the largest object in the Kuiper belt.

4. Visibility from space:

We have always been told that the only man-made object that can be seen from space is the Great Wall of China, but it is NOT true. You cannot actually see the great wall of China from space.
What you can actually see is the biggest structure made by living organisms (not humans) – The Great Barrier Reef.

5. Sun as seen from Mercury:

On Mercury, the sun appears to briefly reverse its usual east to west motion once every Mercurian year. The effect is visible from any place on Mercury, but there are certain places on its surface, where an observer would be able to see the Sun rise about halfway, reverse and set, and then rise again, all within the same day. [Sun’s unusual behaviour as seen from Mercury]

6. Flying on Titan is easy:

The largest moon of Saturn is a very peculiar place. It is the only known moon to have an atmosphere. But that isn’t all.
Its atmosphere has 1.19 times more mass than the earth’s atmosphere. Secondly, the gravity is far lower as compared to earth. This means, had there been humans on Titan, they would have been able fly in Titan by just flapping wings attached to their arms.

In the end, I’d like to leave you with two very interesting things. An inspirational comic by Zen Pencils and a revised version of David Bowie’s Space Oddity, recorded by Commander Chris Hadfield on board the International Space Station (I had this on repeat the entire time I was writing this article):