Frequently Asked Questions: Solar System

Q. Why does water go down the plughole one way in the northern hemisphere on Earth and the other way in the southern hemisphere?
A. As the earth rotates from west to east, it pulls with it the ocean water and the atmosphere and any other fluids. So in the northern hemisphere, Water goes down the plughole counter-clockwise and in the southern hemisphere, it moves down clockwise.

Q. Do any planets have longer days than years?
A. Yes. A 'day' on Venus is less than a 'year' on that planet. A 'day' is the time it takes for the planet to rotate on its own axis (for Venus, 243 earth-days) and a 'year' is the time it takes for the planet to travel around the sun (for Venus, 225 earth-days).

Q. Which planet is furthest from the sun?
A. Neptune is the furthest planet from the sun. However, some dwarf planets, including Pluto, are further away from the sun than Neptune.

Q. What are the Aurora Borealis and the Aurora Australis?
A. They are called the 'Northern Lights' and the 'Southern Lights', and are 'electrified gases in the sky up in the Arctic and down in the Antarctic on Earth.

Q. Most planets are named after Roman gods. For example, Mars is the Roman god of War. Of what are the other gods?
A. Mercury = messenger god, Venus = god of love, Mars = god of war, Jupiter = ruler of the gods, Saturn = god of agriculture, Uranus = god of the heavens, Neptune = god of the sea.

Q. When Captain Cook discovered Australia, he was really on a trip to view the transit of Venus. What does this mean?
A. The transit of a planet such as Venus occurs when that planet passes between the earth and the sun. In 1770, Venus was closer to the earth than it was to the sun.