Earth third rock from the sun and the only known place in the universe to support life is home to 7.3 billion people and a further 14 million different species of life! Unlike all the other planets in our solar system earth is not named after a mythical god, however it is referred to by some as Gaia, Terra or The World. Made up of the major continents of Eurasia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica and Australia with a scattering of different islands ranging from 190 to 97,000 square miles in size. That’s our wee planet and its hurtling around the sun at 67000 mph or 107,826 km. Earth’s journey takes 365 and a quarter days to orbit the sun each one of those days lasting 24 hours in length.
Earth is the fifth largest planet in our solar system and has been referred to as “The Blue Planet” due to its surface being 71% water and only 29% rock however it is actually the densest planet in our solar system being made up mostly of Iron, oxygen and silicon. The Earth’s interior is composed of four layers, three solid and one liquid, a molten metal which is nearly as hot as the surface of the sun. It is at the core where the main part of Earth’s magnetic field is generated which acts as a defence against the strong solar radiation coming from the sun. Our surface temperature varies from -88°C to a scorching 58°C depending on where about you happen to be standing. Due to Earth’s axial tilt of 23° we have seasonal change in climate, with very different and extraordinary weather systems ranging from High Winds, Freezing Rain, Fog, Floods, Thunderstorms, Snow, Rain, Tornados, Hail, Hurricanes, Tsunamis with the odd sunny day thrown in and that’s just may in Northen Ireland. One interesting factoid I discovered in my research is that contrary to popular belief, the Earth is not a greater distance from the Sun during winter it is actually the Earth is closer to the Sun during winter! The reason for colder days is the shorter length of the day.
I thought this may be a little dull being our own home planet however I have come to realize just how interesting and dynamic a planet that Earth actually is. Desserts Icecaps Forests, Jungles, Plains, Mountains, Valleys, Caves and Coastlines Earth really is a vibrant and extraordinary place. Standing on that equator you would be spinning around Earth’s centre at 1000 miles per hour and at the poles you would be standing still while turning in a circle. Its highest point is Mount Everest standing tall at 8848 meters above sea level and the lowest point is Challenger Deep laying at a staggering 10916 meters below sea level. Actually 95% of what lies under the oceans remains unexplored. We actually have better maps of the moon and mars than we do of the deep ocean. The first of the Planets so far to have a notable Moon, however we will talk about that another time! Below are a few links to the sites I gathered my information on but I would like to advise you to check out www.astronomycast.com and www.universetoday.com Photo Credit: Reto Stöckli, Nazmi El Saleous, and Marit Jentoft-Nilsen, NASA GSFC.