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Budding Astronauts Get Ready for Lift Off!

It’s space month at OrlyArt and there’s a lot to celebrate, learn and think about.

Someone somewhere is always looking through a telescope, drawing pictures of aliens and space rockets or watching Star Wars for the millionth time.

In our house we’ve been excited about the launch of NASA’s InSight mission to Mars which is the next step on our pathway to sending astronauts to the red planet. Only about half the space craft we’ve ever sent have been successful in reaching orbit or landing. Fingers crossed in about six months time we’ll have added one more to the tick list.

To learn more visit the NASA website

Being space mad we’ve always been proud of our space themed prints. They have evolved over the years and this month we officially launch a new version of our popular Personalised Solar System print that we’re really excited about.

We’re always asked by parents for a little more information on some of the objects in these prints so we thought it would be fun to write a little blog on them. Oh, Orla also wanted to contribute some of her thoughts so fact checking is a must!

The Planets

Mercury is the smallest planet and closest to the sun. However it isn’t the hottest planet. It does have loads of meteor craters and looks a little like the moon. However it is definitely not made of cheese. We don’t know who discovered Mercury so we going to suggest it was someone called Trevor.

Venus is the hottest planet in the solar system and sometimes called Earth’s twin because of its similar size. There are over 1000 volcanoes on Venus so Orla thinks we need to take an umbrella just in case it rains lava.

Earth is not only our home but also home to Santa. Therefore it is the most important planet in the universe. Seventy percent of the Earth is covered in water and Orla says swimming lessons are an absolute must.

Mars might have life. It might not. No one knows. We do know that one day it might have oceans again as the sun gets more powerful, warms up the planet and melts the ice found on its surface and underground. Mars is also likely to have rings in the next 50 million years as its moon, Phobos, breaks apart. So in the future Mars will look really different.

Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system but like all gas giants it doesn’t have a solid surface so you can’t land there. It does however have a famous large red spot which is a storm that has been raging for at least 188 years and probably longer. Interestingly no one really knows why the spot is red. In our house we think it’s because a whole load of tomatoes got thrown in the air, squished and are now going round and around and around.

Saturn has a lot of rings but although they extend out for more than 120,700km they are only 20m thick. We’re really lucky to see them as in only a few million years they’ll be gone.

Uranus was the first planet to be discovered using a telescope by William Herschel on 13th March 1781. It has at least 27 moons who are all named after characters created by William Shakespeare and Alexander Pope. Orla’s favourite is Titania because she is Queen of the Fairies (who live in their invisible world at the end of our garden).

Neptune was discovered using maths by two men with perfect names for astronomers: Urban Jean Joseph Le Verrier and Johann Gottfried Galle. Maths might seem boring to some but the next time you wonder why you have to learn your number groups remember it could lead to you discovering a planet!

Dwarf Planets

There are five officially recognised dwarf planets in our solar system (Ceres, Pluto, Haumea, Makemake and Eris) but there could be as many as 10,000 out there. The main difference between a planet and a dwarf planet is that a dwarf planet has not cleared all the debris from its orbit. Orla says this means they aren’t very good at tidying up so the next time we visit we need to bring a hoover.

Asteroid Belt

The belt is between Mars and Jupiter and is full of rocks. Some huge like the dwarf planet Ceres and some as small as pebbles on a beach. Despite there being billions and billions of rocks in the belt if you could stand on an asteroid and look around the next one would be too far away to see very well. Therefore bring some binoculars. The best known and largest objects, other than Ceres, are the biggest rocks called Pallas, Vesta and Hygiea. Ceres was first discovered on January 1st 1801 by Giuseppe Piazzi. It is the only dwarf planet not to have a moon but we don’t think it’s lonely as it is surrounded by so many of its friends.

The Kuiper Belt

Also sometimes know as the Kupier-Edgeworth Belt after Gerard Kuiper and Kenneth Edgeworth is a bit like the asteroid belt but much much larger. It is home to our favourite dwarf planet, Pluto and also is where a lot of comets come from. The icy rocks that live there are thought to be left overs from the formation of the solar system so in addition to the rocks there might be a huge quantity of turkey curry floating around!

The Oort Cloud

This is basically still a theory but a good one! We can’t see the Oort Cloud but scientists believe it is a place where all the material that helped form the Sun and other planets now lives. It is thought that particularly Jupiter, being so huge, managed to throw a lot of material far away and those rocks and ices formed the cloud. The cloud is actually in interstellar space and is so far away that it could take decades, if not hundreds of years for a mission from Earth to reach it. Wow!

We hope you find some of this information interesting, especially Orla’s take on things. We’d love to hear some of your own thoughts and ‘facts’. Get in touch with us and you could be included in an original art piece we are working on!

Till next time,

Tom and Karina. x

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