standard values for the Earth
Earth properties, because we live here and using it for comparisons make sense.
- astronomical unit [slide]
1 au = 149,597,870,700 m exactly
- The standard distance from the Earth to the sun is a good unit for describing distances int he solar system.
- aphelion, perihelion, average
- Mercury, Jupiter, Neptune
- Pioneers, Voyagers, New Horizons
- Earth radius [slide]
r♁ = 6.3781 × 106 m exactly
- Geosynchronous satellites, like those used for satellite broadcasting or weather monitoring, orbit about 7 r♁ from Earth's center.
- The moon is about 60 r♁ from the Earth.
- The James Webb Space Telescope sits near the second Lagrange point (L2) with the Earth and sun always behind it — 234 r♁ from Earth.
- Earth mass
m♁ = 5.97212 × 1024 kg approximately
- standard gravity
g = 9.80665 m/s2 exactly
Standard gravity as a unit for describing the pull of gravity itself.
- Gravity on the surface of the Earth varies from 0.997 g on the equator to 1.003 g at the poles and has an average value of 0.999 g.
- Gravity on the Moon is about 0.17 g, often stated as ⅙ g.
- Gravity on Mars is about 0.38 g, which could roughly be approximated as ⅓ g.
Standard gravity as a unit for describing the apparent gravity felt in an accelerating reference frame.
- Objects are apparently weightless in free fall (or in orbit, which is perpetual free fall) — a 0 g reference frame.
- Riding on a roller coaster can make you feel heavier at times. Frame of reference acceleration peaks at an excitingly safe 2–3 g.
- G induced loss of consciousness (abbreviated G-LOC or g-LOC) occurs somewhere around 6–7 g for most people, but well trained pilots have been known to manage 9 g (albeit with considerable effort). Above 10 g and probably everyone will pass out. A related physiological condition is near loss or almost loss of consciousness (A-LOC)
- standard atmosphere
1 atm = 101,325 Pa exactly
- Jupiter properties, because so many exoplanets are similar in size to Jupiter
- Solar properties, because what other star do we know as well
- Eta Carinae 5,000,000 L☉.
- Most massive star known R136a1 107 L☉.
- Most powerful supernova observed SN 2015L a.k.a. ASASSN-15lh 5.7 × 1011 L☉.
- gamma ray burst 1018 L☉.
- galactic year (cosmic year): 225 million years, but I've seen 250 million as welL☉
- Mars properties, because Mars has been occupied by space probes for so long we need to know what time it is there
- sol (Martian day)
- mean tropical year (Martian year)
- Crab nebula
- "The Crab is arguably the most exhaustively studied celestial object beyond the solar system, and the apparent stability of its luminosity at all wavelengths has made it an attractive reference for calibrating observing instruments. The brightness of other objects is often quoted in "millicrabs." But the startling observation of a powerful gamma-ray flare from the Crab last September belies that vaunted stability, and it challenges the accepted theory of how charged particles are accelerated inside supernova remnants. That theory has its beginnings in Enrico Fermi's 1949 attempt to explain the origin of cosmic rays." doi:10.1063/1.3563807
- FOE for "ten to the fifty-one ergs" (1044 joules) a.k.a. a bethe for the German-Amrican nuclear physicist Hans Bethe (1906–2005).
Astronomical distances are so large that using meters is cumbersome. For really large distances the light year is the best unit. A light year is the distance that light would travel in one year in a vacuum. Since the speed of light is fast, and a year is long, the light year is a pretty good unit for astronomy. One light year is about ten petameters (ten quadrillion meters) as the following calculation shows.
Start with the definition of speed and solve it for distance. The traditional symbol for the speed of light is c from the Latin word for swiftness — celeritas.
|∆s = c∆t||⇐||
Numbers in, answer out.
|∆s = c∆t
∆s = (3.00 × 108 m/s)
∆s = 9.46 × 1015 m
Δs ≈ 10 petameters
Since both the speed of light and the year have exactly defined values in the International System of Units, the light year can be stated with an unnecessarily large number of significant digits.
|∆s = c∆t
∆s = (299,792,458 m/s)
∆s = 9,460,730,472,580,800 m
Some distances in light years are provided below.
- The distance to Proxima Centauri (the star nearest the Sun) is 4.3 light years.
- The diameter of the Milky Way (the collection of stars that includes the Sun and all the stars visible to the naked eye) is about 100,000 light years.
- The distance to Andromeda (the nearest galaxy outside the Milky Way) is about 2 million light years.
- The distance to the edge of the universe (the observable part of it) is 13.8 billion light years.
|radius||6.957 × 108||m|
|luminosity||3.828 × 1026||W|
|mass parameter||1.3271244 × 1020||m3/s2|
|mass1||1.98841 × 1030||kg|
|equatorial radius*||6.3781 × 106||m|
|polar radius||6.3568 × 106||m|
|mass parameter||3.986004 × 1014||m3/s2|
|mass1||5.97212 × 1024||kg|
|astronomical unit2 (au)||149,597,870,700||m|
|Julian year2 (y)||365.25||day|
|light year2 (ly)||9,460,730,472,580,800||m|
|standard gravity3 (g)||9.80665||m/s2|
|standard atmosphere4 (atm)||101,325||Pa|
|equatorial radius*||7.1492 × 107||m|
|polar radius||6.6854 × 107||m|
|mass parameter||1.2668653 × 1017||m3/s2|
|mass1||1.89812 × 1027||kg|
- stories — typical multiunit, residential building
- 3 meters
- 10 feet (3.048 m)
- city blocks — gridded cities
- 1/20 mile (80.47 m): New York (borough of Manhattan)
- 1/16 mile (100.6 m): Houston, Milwaukee
- 1/8 mile (201.2 m): Chicago
- olympic swimming pools
- 50 × 25 × 2 m = 2500 m3 = 2,500,000 L
- football fields — International, American, Candian or Australian?
- 100 m
- 100 yards (91.44 m)
- cricket pitches — between the wickets
- 1 chain, 1/80 mile, 22 yards (20.12 m)
- banana equivalent dose
- "Bananas produce antimatter, releasing one positron—the antimatter equivalent of an electron—about every 75 minutes. This occurs because bananas contain a small amount of potassium-40, a naturally occurring isotope of potassium. As potassium-40 decays, it occasionally spits out a positron in the process."