10 Wonders of the Solar System

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7. Earth’s Magnificent Total Solar Eclipses

The gloriously perfect total solar eclipses that we witness from Earth stand unparalleled across the Solar system and universe at large. After the last total solar eclipse was seen in North America back in August last year, the experts deduced that this breathtaking occurrence is triggered when the moon comes in between the sun and the Earth. It triggers totality when the lunar disk shrouds and takes over the entire surface of the sun, while the fire-filled atmosphere remains exposed.

It takes fortune and mathematic precision to make sure that these two strikingly different and opposing celestial beings manage to line-up so magnificently without causing any damage across the solar system. It is interesting to note that even though moon has a diameter that is nearly 400 times tinnier than that of the sun, it also happens to 400 times nearer to the sun. This is where the art of illusions comes into play, making the moon and sun seem like they have the exact same sizes.

Earth’s Magnificent Total Solar Eclipses
Andrew Kroh/Flickr

It is also important to note that the moon doesn’t make a static orbit around the sun. Researchers have noted that a billion years ago, the moon was 10% closer and was capable of blocking out the entire surface of the sun. Deductions on the future reveal that given moon’s moving rate of 1.6 inches or 4 cm per year, after 600 million years have passed, it is likely to drift so far away from the sun that it be not able to shroud up the shell of the sun at all.

In simpler words, the generation of today is extremely lucky to have witnessed this marvelous wonder of the galaxy, and although temporary, it can be experienced again in April 2024 across North America.

8. Callisto’s Ice Spires

The ice spires of Callisto have been an object of extreme fascination ever since they were first discovered by NASA back in 2001. Callisto happens to be the second-biggest moon that orbits Jupiter, and it consists of some of the most ancient and densely cratered surfaces across the Solar system. For the longest periods of time, astronomers believed the Jupiter had no existing traces of active geological life.

However, they were in for a massive shock when Galileo’s spacecraft flew above Callisto’s surface at a small distance of 85 miles, which is around 137 km. They managed to picture some mysteriously bizarre objects, which were later discovered as 300 feet high ice-caked spires that rose up to 100 meters above Callisto’s surface.

Callisto’s Ice Spires
NASA

Astronomers claim that these ice spires came into being through the waste material left behind by spatial collisions and meteor impacts, and their differently bizarre and spiked, pointy edges were formed by erosion that occurred due to the sublimation.

Much like the case of the total solar eclipses that we witness on Earth or the glorious Great Red Spot on the surface of Jupiter, these ice spires on Callisto are about to vanish away into the history of the solar system. Astronomers observed this development during the Galileo space mission conducted back in 2001 because the ice spires are constantly eroding and will completely vanish in a matter of time.

In 2033, the European Space Agency’s Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) initiative spacecraft is all set to visit and capture pictures of all three Galilean moons orbiting Jupiter, which are Callisto, Europa and Ganymede. The explorers also intend to research these mysterious ice spires in more detail.

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