Astronomy Questions

Tell us your questions about astronomy and engineering and we'll do our best to get back to you with an answer. We'll also feature the best questions on our website and as part of our display at the Visitor Centre.

Here are some examples to get you thinking!

Which star is the closest?

The closest star to our sun is Proxima Centauri at 4.2 light years away. It was identified by the Scottish astronomer Robert Innes in 1915.

Proxima Centauri is in the southern skies. In the Northern Hemisphere the closest star we can see with the naked eye is Sirius, which is 8.6 light years away.

Is there gravity in space?

Yes! If there weren’t then the Moon and planets would fly off into space. Gravity is what keeps the planets orbiting around the Sun, and the Moon orbiting around the Earth.

On the surface of the Moon the gravity is much weaker than on Earth. This is why astronauts can jump much higher on the Moon.

Why is the Sun hot?

Inside the Sun, hydrogen atoms are combining to form helium, the gas that makes party balloons float. This is called nuclear fusion and it releases a lot of energy. Most of this energy is given off as infrared waves, which we feel as heat.

This is very different to how a fire burns to make heat.