• LOCATION 36 | Virtual Solar System Drive: From Narrabri to Siding Spring with Fred Watson


    We're going to take a sharp turn to the right shortly and head up Observatory Road. The corner is in shade and the turnoff is easy to miss. This starts a steep climb, so slow down a little and get ready to head up along windy mountain road.

    Look out for the brown tourist signs and note that caravans are not allowed up the Observatory Road.

    This road has traffic going up and down it and is narrow in places, can have wildlife on the road and is slippery after the rain. Take care as you look out for the planets.

    Fred, Things are really going to get busy now up as we approach the rocky planets in this virtual solar system drive. In the next 5km, we'll see Earth, Venus, Mercury and the Sun! We probably know a lot about our planet, but can you remind us?

    fred] sure! A day on earth is 23.9 hours long and the year 365.25 days. We have one moon, and we believe that it is because of our moon and our distance from the sun that there is life on earth called Humans! Just slightly larger than nearby Venus, Earth is the biggest of the four planets closest to the Sun, all of which are made of rock and metal.

    Earth is composed of four main layers - the inner core, outer core, mantle and crust. The thickest layer is the mantle - a hot, viscous mixture of molten rock with the consistency of caramel. It is this that created the volcanoes, that formed the Warrumbungle Ranges 13 million years ago. But what is surprising is that most of Earth's volcanoes are hidden under our oceans which cover 70% of the world's surface.

    As Earthlings, we breathe an atmosphere that consists of 78 per cent nitrogen, 21 per cent oxygen, and 1 per cent other gases such as argon, carbon dioxide and neon.

    Marnie ] So Fred, why is it called Earth?

    Fred] The name Earth is at least 1,000 years old. All of the planets, except for Earth, were named after Greek and Roman gods and goddesses. However, the name Earth is a Germanic word, which simply means “the ground.”

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Virtual Solar System Drive: From Narrabri to Siding Spring with Fred Watson