20 jul. 2012

Astronomical games II. Planetary landscapes

Have you thought in other worlds?

How are their skies? What color are their atmospheres?

Imagine their sunrise tonalities or their bright sunsets of more than one sun. Planets that turn around red giants or binary systems, planets near to supernova clouds, a pulsar or even black holes.

Strange sights with a faraway beach not made of silicates wet of a not salted sea. Or maybe forest with strange trees… or even other cities?

If you would want to draw your ideas about alien landscapes, you could draw anything. Your imagination is the limit.

But what about to draw something closer to real worlds?

We have the opportunity to do it with the planets of our Solar System by knowing their soil and atmosphere components and even with the help of real pictures from spaceships.

Let us see their characteristics.

Mercury. Its soil is similar to the Moon’s with a lot of craters. Almost without atmosphere, its sky is dark during the days (of around 29 terrestrial days long) and nights (58 terrestrial days long, the complete day). And the Sun size?

Venus. This planet is very similar to Earth’s size but very different in other characteristics. Its temperature is around 500 Celsius degrees at surface (even higher than Mercury’s temperature). Its atmosphere full of carbon dioxide is very dense due to the greenhouse effect. The orange sky due to sulfuric dioxide content is covered by clouds always raining above its soil. This is a mortal rain evolved by thunderstorms and the Sun behind the clouds seems bigger than in the Earth’s sky.

Mars. Viking ships could take pictures of its real surface. Red soils and almost absent pink atmosphere due to the constant winds blowing all the time. The Sun size is smaller than in the Earth’s sky and its temperature is around -140 Celsius degrees during the night and 20 Celsius degrees in its days. Maybe for that Mars is seriously considered for future human city colonies. And of course, more ideas for future alien cities!

Jupiter. From this giant planet and beyond (except Pluto), the other planets are mostly made of gas with a possible hot core inside them and maybe solid or liquid. Jupiter clouds are colored from white to brown and orange tonalities as it was shown by Voyager’s pictures in 1979. A giant red spot is a sign of hard cyclones of big dimensions (higher than Earth’s size). In the top of Jupiter’s atmosphere, maybe you could see a light orange sky with a lot of small moons and a small yellow circle, the Sun.

Saturn. By Voyager 1 and 2 pictures, we know tha the sky of this planet is a light blue color with blue, orange and white clouds made of water (ice and gas), ammonium hydrosulfide, and white ammonium crystals, respectively, with a small Sun behind them and very similar to the other stars. Moreover, Saturn’s sky is full of moons and also crossed by the beautiful colors of its rings.

Uranus. In the top to the clouds this planet has a blue-green sky due to the methane content in its atmosphere. Voyager 2 also discovered new moons and rings. Thus Uranus sky is maybe a mixture of small points being its moons, the stars and the Sun of similar sizes.
Neptune. Voyager 2 took pictures of the planet in 1989. In the top of the cluds, its sky is maybe of a deep blue color due to methane content in its atmosphere. Many moons are in its sky together with the stars and the Sun that seems very similar to the other stars’ sizes.
Pluto. Considered planet for many people, we don’t have pictures of it. However, some telescopes have shown a yellow-like surface with a light atmosphere made of methane. With a soil maybe covered by a lot of craters and very low temperatures (-220 Celcius degrees) this planet could have a very dark sky with a really small bright point that is the Sun very faraway from it. Also there is a big semi-dark moon (Caronte) and a beautiful sky covered by stars in the night.

In astronomy talks, I have given this information about planet characteristics. Kids, young and adults have surprised me with their planetary landscape draws.

Do you like to draw someone?

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