Welcome home! As we continue our journey across the solar system, we figured it was a good idea to stop at Earth for some snacks — and of course, some interesting facts about our planet that you need to know! Now, you might be asking yourself, why do we even need to talk about our own celestial body? We’ll address that question and more as we explore some interesting facts about Earth that you might not have otherwise known.
10 Interesting Facts About Earth
What do you know about our own planet? Expand your knowledge with the tidbits about Earth below.
1. The Rotation
Did you know that the Earth’s rotation is slowing down? It’s not enough to notice while standing on the grass, but it’s happening. Scientists estimate that we’re losing roughly 1.7 milliseconds every hundred years. If the human race is still on Earth 140 million years from now, they’ll have to adapt to a 25 hour day.
2. The Moons
While it might not be as bright as the one you see in the night sky, the Earth actually has another hidden moon. It’s too small to see without the aid of a telescope. Still, 3753 Cruithne orbits the sun and takes around 800 years to complete a ring around the Earth.
3. The Tilt
Drawings and pictures might portray our home planet as standing straight up in space, but it’s tilted by about 66 degrees on its axis. This tilt means some portions of the surface are closer to the sun than others at any given time. The tilt of our axis is the reason we have seasons.
4. The Mountains
For a long time, Mt. Everest was considered the tallest mountain in the world, but it only has that title if you stop measuring at sea level. Mauna Kea in Hawaii only reaches 13,802 feet above sea level. However, once you go below the surface of the ocean, the total height of this dormant volcano is 33,500 feet. It’s a full 4,000 feet taller than Everest at its peak.
5. The Year
While we celebrate the new year every 365 days — unless it’s a leap year — the actual length of Earth’s orbit is 365.24 days. It’s that extra 1/4 day that adds up, so every four years we celebrate a Leap Year and add an extra day to February.
6. The Name
Many of the planets in our solar system — Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn — are visible to the naked eye and were named after Roman gods during ancient times. When we could spot the rest of the planets in our celestial neighborhood, we continued the naming trend. Earth is the only planet in the solar system not named after an ancient god.
7. The Magnetic Field
While Earth isn’t the only planet with a magnetic field, ours plays a special role in protecting us from radiation and solar winds. The rotation of our planet’s core generates a magnetic field that serves to deflect the most dangerous radiation. It also allows plant and animal life to grow and thrive.
8. The Size
Our little blue marble might look small when you compare it to the gas giants beyond the asteroid belt. However, it’s the largest of the terrestrial or rocky planets that exist between the sun and the asteroid belt. Still, more than one million of our planets could fit inside the sun.
9. The Discoveries
We might be looking toward the stars, but there are still plenty of things for us to discover here at home. We’re still, to this day, finding new species of flora and fauna. Plus, we’ve only explored around 20% of the ocean floor, so there are still a lot of facts about Earth to uncover.
10. The Snow
If you look at two snowflakes under a microscope, you’d be hard-pressed to find two that look alike. Each winter season, around 1 septillion ice crystals fall from the sky. That’s 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 snowflakes.
What Will Scientists Discover Next?
Science news delivered weekly!
Earth Properties & Information
- Location: Third planet from the sun, and third of the inner planets.
- Distance from sun: 149,598,262 km — 92,956,050 miles or 1 AU.
- Composition: Iron, oxygen, silicon, magnesium, and other trace elements, like aluminum and potassium.
- Size: 12,756 km — 7,926 mi — at the equator.
- Surface: Temperate, allowing for the presence of liquid water and plant and animal life
- Structure: Solid inner core made primarily of iron, surrounded by a liquid outer core, a semi-liquid mantle and a solid crust.
- Color: Primarily blue, white and green when observed from orbit.
- Atmosphere: 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, 0.9% argon, and 0.03% carbon dioxide, as well as other trace elements.
- Temperature: Ranges from -81°C to 47°C, depending on locations and seasons.
- Orbital Period: 365.24 days.
- Rotation Period: 23 hours, 56 minutes and 4 seconds.
When Did We Discover We Weren’t The Center of the Universe?
As we know, no one “discovered” Earth. As a species, we evolved here and have been here the whole time. However, for centuries, astronomers and scientists believed Earth was stationary in space and was the center of the known universe. They believed the sun orbited the Earth rather than the other way around.
It wasn’t until the 16th Century when Nicolaus Copernicus started to theorize that the sun — not the Earth — was the center of the universe. While he wasn’t strictly correct, he was the first person to develop the heliocentric model of the solar system with the Earth and other planets orbiting the sun.
In the 20th century, with advances in telescope technology and the discovery of other galaxies, we came to a new conclusion — that there is no center of the universe. Instead, the Big Bang created a massive mess that doesn’t have one central point and is expanding in all directions.
What Is Earth Known for and What Makes It Unique?
What do you think makes our planet unique in the cosmos? The first and most obvious thing that comes to mind is humanity. As far as we know — and we arguably don’t know a lot about the universe yet — we’re the only planet in the solar system with intelligent life. This little blue marble is home to the most stubborn, infuriating, frustrating, amazing, marvelous and unique species in the cosmos.
We’re lucky that out of all the planets in all the galaxies in the universe, ours happened to be in the right place at the right time. The odds of that happening, if you’ll excuse the scientific parlance, is astronomical.
There is so much that makes our little blue marble unique. We’re lucky to call it home — even as we make our first forays out into the cosmos.
More About Our Galaxy, the Milky Way
Did you learn any new facts about Earth? Did we miss your favorite fact about our home world? Let us know in the comments below. Then, stick with us as we explore the red planet on everyone’s minds these days — Mars.