Johannes Kepler born on this day in 1571 is primarily remembered for discovering the elliptical nature of planetary orbits and laying out the three laws of planetary motion. Kepler, a true renaissance man, was also the father of optic medicine. He was the first to:
- Explain the process of vision by refraction within the eye;
- Formulate eyeglass designing for nearsightedness and farsightedness
- Explain the use of both eyes for depth perception
We can thank Keplar for moving us from the belief in a celestial sphere model of the universe in which Earth is the center to accepting the heliocentric model Copernicus proposed in which he moved the sun to the center. Which, by the way, inspired author David Mitchell to write in “Cloud Atlas” one of my all time favorite book lines. In response to a spoiled girl’s sharp tongue her parents say to a guest, “ Eva should be apologizing to me, that she has to lose her pre-Copernican view of a universe revolving around herself”.
So today in honor of Kepler I thought it would be fun to scour the heavens for
10 Fun facts you may not know about the universe.
To make it even more fun, two contain built-in pop culture references. Let me know if you spot them.
If you could drive your car straight up you would arrive in space in just over an hour.
The Earth orbits the Sun in an elliptical uneven orbit and the distance between the two depends on where Earth lies in that orbit. If that is not enough to make you scratch your head; the reason Mars looks like it changes direction is due to its elliptical orbit and where it lies in contrast to Earth’s orbit.
The Moon was formed from Earth some 4.56 billion years ago when a giant meteor hit the Earth. At least this is the basis of the “Giant impact theory”.
The Moon spins around its axis in the same time it goes one lap around the Earth which is why we always see the same side of it.
Every hour the Universe expands by around 1 billion miles in all directions.
Because of its low density, Saturn is the only planet that could float on water. (Someone really needs to make a Saturn bathtub toy).
Seasons last 21 years on Uranus. Each pole has 42 years of sunlight followed by 42 years of darkness.
There is a black hole millions of times the mass of the Sun at the center of our galaxy.
Venus is the only planet that rotates from east to west.
A planet nicknamed “The Genesis project” has been found to be 12.7 billion years old, making it the oldest planet yet discovered.
If you have a fun universe fact do tell!