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Alder Planetarium

Prof. Abraham Lincoln

Solar System

The Sun

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Read this lesson on the Sun and then answer the following questions.


The Sun is the center of the solar system. It contains over 99 percent of the total mass of the solar system. The Sun's gravity shapes the orbits of all the planets and its radiation is the overwhelming energy source of the solar system. The Sun is such a dominant feature that it has been said that the solar system consists only of the Sun and debris.

The Sun is composed mostly of hydrogen. At the center of the Sun the hydrogen fuses in a thermonuclear reaction to helium at a temprature of 14 million degrees centigrade. It consumes about 4 million tons of hydrogen per second. This reaction is resposible for all the energy on Earth (except nuclear and geothermal) even though the Sun is 93 million miles away.

To the naked eye the Sun appears to be a featureless ball of blinding light however there are dark areas on the surface of the Sun called sunspots. Sunspots only appear to be dark because they are slightly less bright than the surrounding surface and slightly cooler than the average 6000 degree centigrade surface temprature. Sunspots are caused by huge magnetic storms on the Sun's surface and therefore can appear and disappear.

1. What is the major body in the solar system?

  1. Sun
  2. Earth
  3. Jupiter
  4. Mercury
  5. Saturn

2. What fuel powers the Sun?

  1. Petroleum
  2. Helium
  3. Uranium
  4. Coal
  5. Hydrogen

3. What causes sunspots?

  1. Water at that location
  2. Lack of fuel at that location
  3. High winds
  4. Metors falling into the Sun
  5. Magnetic storms

4. On the Earth which of the following energy sources do not come from the Sun?

  1. Petroleum
  2. Nuclear
  3. Burning wood
  4. Coal
  5. Water power

5. What is the core temprature of the sun?

  1. 3000 degrees
  2. 8 million degrees
  3. 6000 degrees
  4. 7000 degrees
  5. 14 million degrees


Make the argument that the Sun (or other stars) actually is responsible for nuclear and geothermal energy on Earth.

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