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Dark Sky Image of Pendragon Castle An image of stars in the clear night sky above Pendragon Castle

Quiz for the astronomically-advanced – ANSWERS

Wednesday 10 February, 2021, by Katy Foxford

The moment of truth… are you are bright as the North Star or a little dimmer? You can find a link to the answers below.

1. How many light years across is the Milky Way?

Answer: The Milky Way is a flat disc about 100,000 light years wide

2. In what constellation is Betelgeuse found?

Answer: Betelgeuse is one of the brightest stars in the constellation Orion

3. Which planet, the first to be discovered since prehistoric times, was found in 1781 by William Herschel?

Answer: Uranus
William Herschel was a German-born musician and astronomer who found Uranus from his backyard in Bath, UK. He wanted to call the new planet ‘Georgium Sidus’ (the Georgian Star) after the then King of England, but a German astronomer called Johannes Bode suggested the name ‘Uranus’.

4. At 4.2 light years away, what is the closest star to the Earth (not including the Sun)?

Answer: Proxima Centauri is our Sun’s nearest known neighbor at 4.2 light years away

5. What is the Great Red Spot?

Answer: The Great Red Spot is a persistent high-pressure region in the atmosphere of Jupiter
It produces an anticyclonic storm with wind-speeds of up to 432 km/h (268 mph), which is the largest in the solar system.

6. Where is the Sea of Tranquillity?

Answer: The Sea of Tranquillity is a lunar mare that sits within the Tranquillitatis basin on the Moon.
Although the plural of mare – maria – is a Latin word that means ‘seas’, these maria don’t have water in them. Lunar maria were named as such because early astronomers mistook these areas as seas.

7. What constellation is The Plough a part of?

Answer: Ursa Major
Ursa Major constellation lies in the northern sky. Its name means ‘the great bear,’ or ‘the larger bear,’ in Latin. The stars in The Plough represent the bear’s hindquarters and tail. Four of these stars define a ‘bowl’ or ‘body’ and three define a ‘handle’ or ‘tail’. 

8. What is the largest artificial object in Earth’s orbit, which can often be seen with the naked eye?

Answer: International Space Station
The International Space Station (ISS) is visible from approximately 95% of the Earth. The ISS takes approximately 10 minutes to transit the night sky – 90 minutes to circle the Earth – and many websites and phone apps will help you locate the ISS at any time and location.

9. Who were the first British man and woman in space? Bonus point for the years.

Answer: Helen Patricia Sharman became the first British astronaut in space and the first woman to visit the Mir space station in 1991.

Michael Foale went into space in 1992 – he was born in Britain, but moved to the US and so was funded by NASA – but he had duel citizenship.

10. What is a nebula?

Answer: A nebula is an enormous cloud of dust and gas occupying the space between stars and sometimes acting as a nursery for new stars. 

So how did you get on? Did you learn something new? If this quiz has piqued your interest and you want to learn more, we have a stellar line up of many free educational events (for beginners and for those who are a bit more advanced) for you to get involved in as part of our 2021 Dark Skies Festival.

Picture of Katy Foxford

Katy Foxford

Katy is the Tourism Support Officer with the YDNPA


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