Why There Is Light on Earth But Not in Space
If you’re not a morning person, then you’d probably love living on the moon or out in space! The whole “lack of oxygen” thing aside, a ‘round-the-clock night sky sounds pretty tempting! But why is there so much light on Earth, but almost none once you leave our planet?
You might think that it’s light during the day and dark at night because the Earth spins on its axis, and the Sun illuminates either hemisphere. That’s part of the reason, but it’s more complicated than that. Our star shines on the Moon too, but the sky above it is always black!
– The atmosphere surrounding our Earth is full of dust, dirt, gases, and water droplets – which all act like tiny mirrors and reflect the sunlight.
– If you find yourself on the Moon, where there’s no atmosphere, the sky will be black. You’ll be able to see the stars even when the sun is blazing on the surface during the lunar day.
– In the early 19th century, German astronomer Wilhelm Olbers suggested that the reason the sky is dark at night was a dusty veil that hid most of the stars from us.
– Thanks to our fancy powerful telescopes, we now know that it takes light billions of years to get to us from the farthest stars.
– Modern telescopes can show us that the light started its journey to the Earth about 10 billion years ago. The more powerful telescopes get, the further back in time we can see.
– But don’t all those distant stars give at least some noticeable light on this planet? It’d be like switching on a ton of tiny halogen light bulbs. They’re not as bright as one big LED bulb, but they do give off part of its light.
– Space might be empty compared to the Earth’s atmosphere, but there are a lot of gases out there. They move around, form clouds, and serve as a sort of veil hiding most of the light in the Milky Way.
– The theory states that the Universe was born in a Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago. Since that time, everything has been moving away from the point where it all began.
– Sources of light also move away and spread out, which means space is getting darker, and the number of black areas is growing.
– Astronomers think that most of the matter in the universe is invisible, and it looks like black emptiness to the human eye.
– If you remember the electromagnetic spectrum from back in school, you’ll know that visible light is just a tiny sliver of all those wavelengths and frequencies.
– Red, blue, purple, yellow, orange – the whole color wheel depending on which gases make them up!
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