Did you know? - Fascinating facts and useful trivia factoids about people, products and places

Fast facts about earth and the universe

| Animals | Arts & literature | Body | Earth and universe | Factoids | Food | History | Inventions | Money | Movies & TV | Music | People | Politics | Religion | Science | Sports | Statistics | Vehicles | War |

Earth and universe

The order of the planets, starting closest to the sun: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune.

The one place where a flag flies all day, never goes up or comes down, and does not get saluted, is the moon.

Earth is not round; it is slightly pear-shaped. The North Pole radius is 44mm longer than the South Pole radius.

A green diamond is the rarest diamond.

The ozone layer averages about 3 millimeters (1/8 inch) thick.

A diamond will break if you hit it with a hammer.

The crawler, the machine that takes the Space Shuttle to the launching pad moves at 3km/h (2 mph).

Summer on Uranus lasts for 21 years – but so does winter.

The Sahara desert expands at about 1km per month.

Oceanography, the study of oceans, is a mixture of biology, physics, geology and chemistry.

More than 70% of earth’s dryland is affected by desertification.

The US has one of the highest fire death rates in the industrialised world, with more than 2 million fires reported each year.

The sun is 330,330 times larger than the earth.

The largest iceberg ever recorded was 335km (208 miles) long and 97km (60 miles) wide.

Luke Howard used Latin words to categorize clouds in 1803.

Hurricanes, tornadoes and bigger bodies of water always go clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere and counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere. This directional spinning has to do with the rotation of the earth and is called the Coriolis force.

Winds that blow toward the equator curve west.

Organist William Herschel discovered the planet Uranus in 1781 with the first reflecting telescope that he built. He named it Georgium Sidium in honour of King George III of England but in 1850 it was renamed Uranus in accordance with the tradition of naming planets for Roman gods.

Planets, meaning wanderers, are named after Roman deities: Mercury, messenger of the gods; Venus, the god of love and beauty; Mars, the god of war; Jupiter, king of the gods; and Saturn, father of Jupiter and god of agriculture; Neptune, god of the sea.

During a total solar eclipse the temperature can drop by 6 degrees Celsius (about 20 degrees Fahrenheit).

The tallest waterfalls in the world are Angel Falls in Venezuela. At 979 m (3,212 ft), they are 19 times taller than the Niagara Falls, or 3 times taller than the Empire State Building.

Although the Angel Falls are much taller than the Niagara Falls, the latter are much wider, and they both pour about the same amount of water over their edges – about 2,8 billion litres (748 million gallons) per second.

There are 1040 islands around Britain, one of which is the smallest island in the world: Bishop’s Rock.

All the planets in the solar system rotate anticlockwise, except Venus. It is the only planet that rotates clockwise.

Earth is the densest planet in the solar system and the only one not named after a god.

Earth orbits the sun at an average speed of 29.79 km/s (18.51 miles/sec), or about 107 000 km/h (about 67,000 miles/hour).

One year on earth is 365.26 days long. One day is 23 hours, 56 minutes, and 4 seconds long. The extra day in a leap year was introduced to compensate for the discrepancy in the Georgian calendar.

Plates carrying the continents migrate over the earth’s surface a few centimetres (inches) per year, about the same speed that a fingernail grows.

On average, 13,000 earthquakes are located each year.

The magnetic north pole is near Ellef Ringes Island in northern Canada.

The magnetic south pole was discovered off the coast of Wilkes Land in Antarctica.

There is zero gravity at the centre of earth.

the deepest mine in the world is Western Deep Levels near Charletonville, South Africa. It is 4,2km (2.6 miles) deep.

The deepest point in the sea: the Mariana Trench off Guam in the Pacific Ocean; it is 10,9 km (6.77 miles) below sea level.

Earth is slowing down – in a few million years there won’t be a leap year.

The tail of the Great Comet of 1843 was 330 million km long. (It will return in 2356.)

There are more than 326 million trillion gallons of water on Earth.

About 500 small meteorites fall to earth every year but most fall in the sea and in unpopulated areas.

There is no record of a person being killed by a meteorite but animals are occasionally hit.

The Dead Sea is 365 m (1,200 ft) below sea level.

A storm officially becomes a hurricane when cyclone winds reach 119 km/h (74 mph).