Tour Locations | Highlights from the Virtual Solar System Drive with Fred Watson
Well done Terranauts, we're here! We've reached the centre of our solar system! We're at the sun.
As you park your car in the visitors' car park, on the lower side of the hill, you will see the final bill-board, showing the virtual solar system drive and where you've come from.
Getting out of the car, look up to the left, above the visitors centre is the Anglo-Australian Telescope Dome, standing 50meters from the ground to the top, and is a whopping 37 metres in radius. The round top represents the Sun in the virtual solar system. The ancient Romans named the Sun ‘Sol’ after their god of the sun.
Fred, In the real world, what do we know about our sun?
[fred] our sun is a yellow dwarf star, the closest star to Earth. It is by far the largest object in our Solar System and would take 1.3 million Earths to fill it. But whilst this sounds big, it is not an especially large star with several others MUCH bigger in the Milky Way Galaxy, Betelgeuse which you can see in our night sky is 1200 times bigger than our sun.
The Sun and Earth drive the seasons, ocean currents, weather, climate, radiation belts and auroras. Earth is in the suns Goldilocks Zone where it is not too hot, and not too cold, and why scientists believe we are able to sustain life on Earth. Though it is special to us, with its gravity holding everything together, there are billions Sun scattered around the universe.
The Sun, like other stars, is a ball of gas. It is made of 91% hydrogen and 9% helium. At the core, where the heat and light is produced, the temperature is about 15 million degrees Celsius.
Like all-stars, the Sun will someday run out of energy. When the sun starts to die, it will swell so big that it will swallow up Mercury and Venus and maybe even Earth. But you don't need to worry quite yet.
Scientists believe the sun is about halfway through its lifetime and will last another 6.5 billion years before it shrinks down to be a white dwarf.
Marnie] - Well thank you Fred. It has been marvellous sharing the Virtual Solar System Drive with you and hearing a little bit about the planets too.
Terranauts - we hope you get the opportunity to look through a telescope soon and learn even more about the planets of the real solar system. If you've enjoyed the tour, please leave a comment, rate it and tell your friends and family to be a part of this out of space journey.