Thursday, December 27, 2012

Mars---The Red Planet.

Mars is the fourth planet from Sun & lies between Earth & Jupiter.It's surface is made up of red soil & thousands of rocks of all sizes.Though small in size,it has the highest mountain,the largest volcano and the deepest & longest valley in our solar system.That's not all.It even has the largest dust storms of all--lasting for months & covering the whole planet.How is that for small sized big achievements?

In many ways Mars is very much like Earth---it rotates in 24.6 hours,has seasons,winds,clouds, morning mist,frozen polar caps,mountains & valleys just like us.

The similarities end here because it's environment is too harsh to support life--
Firstly there is no water.

Secondly temperatures vary a lot.While summer temperature at the equator can be as high as 70*F,it may dip to -220*F at the poles.On the whole it is much colder than Earth.

Thirdly Mars takes nearly twice as long as Earth to orbit Sun.Therefore it's year is double that of Earth & it's seasons too last twice as long.

It's air has very little oxygen,which we all need to breathe.

It has two moons-Phobos & Deimos, while we have only one.

Mars' diameter is about one half of Earth's.It is so small that nearly seven Mars could fit inside Earth.

It's largest volcano Olympus Mons is hundred times as large as the largest volcano on Earth .It is also three times as high as Mount Everest.

Mars can be seen with naked eye because it shines with a bright red light.But we cannot see it when it's orbit takes it away to the other side of Sun.Mars travels round Sun at an average speed of 86871Km/h.Yet when we see it in the sky we cannot discern any movement-amazing isn't it ?

It takes nearly eight months for a spacecraft to reach Mars even if it is launched when Earth is nearest to it.Many probes have visited Mars but no evidence of life has been found.

From the astrological angle Mars as a ruling planet endows the person with courage,vitality,daring & recklessness.

Text courtesy Robin Kerrod
Image courtesy

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Planet Venus

 Venus is associated with love & beauty but planet Venus is the hottest planet in our solar system.By hot i do not mean sexy or sassy as women are often labelled,but as hot as 900*F.Quite a revelation isn't it?There's more--it is dotted with hundreds of volcanoes.There is thunder,lightening & acid rain but the rain evaporates before it reaches the surface.It's atmosphere is so heavy that standing on it you would feel as if you were under 3,000 Ft of water.Better not do that because you would be crushed under this huge pressure.There are also hundreds of craters but many more have been submerged under lava which flowed from the volcanoes.The surface mainly consists of volcanoes & rolling plains.There is not much variation in temperature whether it is night or day,hillock or a lowland.This is because it's atmosphere traps Sun's heat.Viewed from earth we will only see a white planet covered with clouds.The clouds are mainly made up of sulphuric acid.They extend up to 100Km above it's surface.

If you look at the south-east corner of sky at 6am in India nowadays,you will see Venus rising on the horizon.It is mostly seen as the morning star or evening star.After Sun & moon it is the brightest entity in the sky.Venus is known as the sister planet of Earth because it is almost the same size.Mariner 10 took nearly 3 months to reach it

Now some oddities--Venus orbits the sun in 225 earth days but rotates around it's axis in 243 which means it's day is longer than it's year.Ever heard of such a thing?This happens because it spins very slowly,but whizzes past the sun at a speed of 126,077 Kmh.Another unique feature is that while all other planets spin anti-clockwise,Venus spins clock-wise,so that over there sun rises in the west;and it rises ever so slowly.

.Every planet in the solar system is so unique that it is mind boggling!!!!!!

Text courtesy Robin Kerrod
Images courtesy Clipart &

Monday, December 17, 2012

Planet Mercury

A brave little planet of our solar system (only Pluto is smaller) is next door neighbor of the mighty Sun.Since it rotates nearest to it we can view it only at sunset or sunrise.It shines very brightly & we can see it with our naked eyes.

Mercury has borne the brunt of assaults by thousands of meteorites & asteroids,resulting in vast craters on it's surface.It also has steep round cliffs which are not found on any other planet.Sixty% of it's land is smooth like the moon.It is only slightly larger than our Moon.

One very interesting fact about Mercury is that while it whizzes past Sun at a speed of 172,000 kmh(the fastest speed in our solar system),taking 88 earth days to complete one year;it rotates very slowly,taking almost 59 earth days to constitute the daytime and an equal time span to make up the night.Add to this the fact that it has a negligible atmosphere to trap the surface heat & the consequence is that the part which faces the Sun heats up to 840*F & when the night comes it drops to -290*F.Playing hot and cold if you like!Another chimerical feature of this planet is that even in day time it's sky will be pitch black except for the luminous bodies when visible.One more bouncer from the same source-it tracks an elliptical orbit because of which if you were to stand on it's surface you would see the Sun changing sizes.It is a different matter that you would first roast to vapor or be frozen to an icicle,depending if it was day or night!The latest discovery by NASA suggests that it's North Pole has deposits of ice & water.Well!Surprises never cease in Astronomy!

Although nearest to Sun,it is not the hottest planet of our family.Which one is that?Surprise!Wait for the answer!

Text courtesy Robin Kerrod
Image courtesy

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Our Home--Planet Earth

As we go about our daily lives we seldom pause to think about the miracle,which is this(maybe the only), life supporting planet in our solar system.Here are some interesting facts about it--

Earth came into being about 4.6 billion years ago.It is a middle-sized planet in it's family of nine planets.It's diameter from north to south poles is less than 1/10th the diameter of Jupiter & five times more than that of Pluto-the smallest planet.At equator it's diameter is 7,926 miles & circumference is 25,000 miles.If someone drove round the equator at the speed of 50 miles p/h he would take about  3 weeks to complete one circle.It's average distance from Sun is 93,000,000 miles & it's core is believed to be as hot as 11,000*F.

The atmosphere around Earth stretches up to a height of nearly 400 miles but the air gets thinner as we go up because the weight of air over it diminishes concomitantly.The clouds are mostly at the height of 10-12 miles above the Earth surface.At 50 miles above Earth,in the mesosphere,temperatures can be as low as -100*F.Surprising,isn't it ?

As we all know,most of Earth's surface is covered by oceans whose average depth is two & a half miles but Marianas Trench in the Pacific ocean is nearly 7 miles deep.

Our Earth houses at least one & a half million different kinds of living beings.It all started billions of years ago in the form of simple life in early oceans.Then about 600 million years ago different life  forms began to emerge in the seas.Four hundred million years ago life deigned to appear on land starting with plants & going on to insects & amphibians.As late as 150 million years back reptiles were the main life form followed by the birds.At about 65 million years ago dinosaurs & some other species died & the animals we see around us began to emerge.We humans may think the world of ourselves,but we came into existence only about 3 million years ago.Quite a sobering thought that !!!!!!!!

Just look at this picture of Earth spinning like mad.Do you know it's speed?It is 1,670kmh at the equator.

Now sit tight for the last blast-our Earth is travelling round the Sun at this reckless speed of 100,000 Km/h.How's that for rash driving?

Text courtesy Robin Kerrod.
Images courtesy amazonaws .com & wikipedia.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Sun

The Sun , it's planets & their moons together form our solar system.
Sun is the only star in this family,which means that it has light of it's own.All other bodies reflect Sun's light.

The temperature on it's surface is 10,000*F but it can go up to 27,000,000*F at the core.

It is nearly150 million km away from Earth & it's diameter is about 865.000 miles.It is more than a hundred times bigger than the Earth but as stars go,it is not very big.Astronomers call it a dwarf star.

It's gravity is 30 times as strong as Earth's & reaches far out in space to distances of many billions of miles.If you were able to stand on it's surface you would not be able to pick up your foot--stuck there for ever!

It rotates on it's axis in about 25 Earth days & travels through space along with it's family (our solar system) & other stars in a galaxy known as the Milky Way (yes,it is not stationary).
This galaxy contains about 100 billion stars which are clustered together in a flat disc,bulging at the centre ,while it's arms spiral outwards.Our mighty Sun is on one arm far away from the centre.It  circles the centre of our galaxy in one cosmic year-which is about 225 million years.

Surprised?There is more to come--there are more than 15 billion galaxies in the universe--all situated far apart,empty spaces separating them.And there are billions of stars in each galaxy! Mind boggling isn't it ?

These facts were so amazing that i wanted to share them with you all.Just imagine-where do I & U stand in this humongous universe?

How did you like these snippets about the Sun ?I hope you found them interesting.
Disclaimer :The facts given in this post have been culled from a book "The Planets" written by Robin Kerrod.
The pictures are courtesy NASA &

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Moving On

Shit happens!No matter how careful we are,someone somewhere,will cross our path in such a way that ugliness results.It could happen because our interests clash or because our personalities conflict.Maybe the other person has a grouse against us & he has chosen this moment to bring it out into the open.Or there could be a gap in communication & the two of us might be working at cross purposes.Whatever be the reason;the result is the same--there is anger,a feeling of being victimized,not having been understood or having been humiliated,on both sides.Naturally both of us think that we have been wronged and the other person  is being hurtful,mean or at best cranky.

We all do what we think is right .In fact we always think that we are right.Therefore it is difficult to arrive at an objective appraisal.We may expect the other person to apologize and be willing to forget the event but the other person too,might be going through the same emotions.Chances are,that a decent closure will not happen.How can it,when both parties are waiting for their opponent to redress the wrong? 

The result is that there is anger & unpleasantness on both sides.It is futile to go into who is wrong,or who started it.This is best left to the judiciary.Let us presume that there is no initiative from either side to make amends.What do we do then?Do we allow this matter to scar our happiness?Or should we just forgive,forget, and look ahead?There can be no clear cut answers to this.If our opponent happens to be a close relation we may not like to break that tie for ever.It would not be pragmatic to do so too.If it is a friend or a colleague whom we cannot avoid,we could just skirt by him till our anger subsides.There is a third category--persons who have no active role in our lives at any level;it would hardly matter if we cut all connections with them.In such cases unfriending the person could be a viable option.In fact we might feel more relaxed if we did so.

When we pick either of the three options,we take a constructive step forward.It could erase the stress which had been rankling us.But this will happen only if we refuse to go back to that situation again.Forgiveness eases the pain sustains relationships.

But sometimes we are so enraged by an incident that we are overcome by anger,hatred and animosity.We may even think up ways of retaliating.But as the quote below states :

"Between stimulus and response there is a space.In that space is our power to choose our response.In our response lies our growth and our freedom."Viktor E. Frankl

So if you find yourself in a mood to take revenge, ask yourself :

*Am I sure that the other person was 100% at fault?

*Did I not do anything to provoke him?

*While I plan to get even with him,am I not neglecting other pressing matters?

*Will my vengeance assuage my hurt sans any negative fallout?

*If by chance,I discover that my adversary was not really at fault will I not experience further humiliation?

*Will I ever repent having spoiled that relationship?

*How is this helping me?

*Suppose I relinquish this whole episode as an unsavory one time incident, will I not be more at peace?

*What is more important for me--getting even with him or conserving my serenity?

I do hope the answers to these questions will point to the path forward.All of us are imperfect humans.Sometimes we too hurt others by our words,actions or even our silence.It may be willful or unintentional.If we can give the same margin of error to the other person, the ambiance around us will be more tranquil and we will be more at peace with life !!!!!

Monday, December 3, 2012


I opened my eyes in the lap of a super Taurean and none better could i have wished for!Taureans are famous for being kind,affectionate,patient,loyal,steady,conservative,dependable,predictable and practical.Phew! Did i leave any adjective there?It is not my fault,they are like that only.And believe me, i do not say this because my mom was one.

Moving on to other things,they love music, beauty & harmony.No wonder they are so easy to get along with.It helps if you ply them with lavish spreads of tasty grub & do not comment about their weight.Ahem, they are also very possessive & woe betide their lover/spouse if s/he has a roving eye because they can be very jealous.

They are slow to anger & violent outbursts are rare.Determination & perseverance are their hall marks.They are inflexible & resist change.What else?Oh yeah,they are rather materialistic in outlook & love their comforts because these things give them security.

I think i had better stop-i can see some brick-bats coming my way!Let me hasten to add that these are only general guidelines--individual horoscopes count a lot.
So that's all for today-happy feasting to all you cool Taurians!!!

The stuff in this post has mostly been learnt from a book by Richard Sterling & the cute pic is from to both!!!!