10 Fascinating Facts About Earth

Earth Aligns

Photo: Shutterstock

We’ve all grown up on Earth, but how much do we know about our home planet? Here are 10 awesome facts about the third rock from the sun. Want to gain some daily interesting knowledge? Today I Found Out offers a free daily newsletter to help you feed your brain.

Along with orbiting around the Sun at 66,600 mph, the Earth is also rotating at its axis at about 1,070 miles per hour.

So you are simultaneously hurtling around the Sun at 66,600 mph while sitting on a rock that is spinning at 1,070 mph.

On top of that, our whole solar system is rocketing through space around the centre of the Milky Way at around 559,234 mph.

On top of that, our galaxy is hurtling through space at around 671,080 mph, with respect to our local group of galaxies.

On top of that, for all we know, our entire Universe is hurtling through some unknown medium at some other ridiculous speed.

The energy required to stop the Earth orbiting the Sun is about 2.6478 × 1033 joules or 7.3551 × 1029 watt hours or 6.3285*1017megatons of TNT.

The Earth isn't perfectly spherical in shape.

The combination of gravitational and centrifugal forces, along with the tilted axis of the Earth have resulted in a bulge of mass around the equator.

Therefore the Earth's shape is classified as an oblate spheroid or ellipsoid. The polar diameter of the Earth is about 26.7 miles (43 km) shorter than its equatorial diameter causing a difference of about 0.3%.

This very slightly oblate shape affects the weight of an object according to its position on the Earth's surface.

For example: A 20-lb bag of sand would weigh less at the equator than at the North Pole. This is because the further an object gets from the centre of the Earth, the less it weighs.

If the Earth were a perfect sphere, then objects would weigh exactly the same anywhere on Earth.

The Earth is hottest when it is furthest from the Sun on its orbit, not when it is closest.

During the period when the Earth is furthest from the Sun (aphelion- in July when the Earth is at around 94.8 million miles/ 152.6 million kilometers away from the Sun), the average temperature of the entire planet is about 4°F (2.3°C) higher than when it is closest to the Sun (perihelion- in January when we are at about 91.1 million miles /146.6 million kilometers away from the Sun).

On average, the intensity of sunlight falling on Earth during aphelion is about 7% less than during perihelion. Despite this, the Earth ends up being warmer during the period in which it is furthest away from the Sun.

As you might have guessed then or already known, the seasons are not caused by the distance the Earth is from the Sun, but rather are caused completely by the fact that the Earth is tilted on its axis 23.5°. This is why when it's summer in the Northern Hemisphere, it's winter in the Southern Hemisphere, and vice-verse.

The average temperature of the Earth year round is around 61°F (16.1°C).

The average coldest temperature on the Earth, in Antarctica, is around -60°F or -51.1°C and the average of the hottest part of the Earth, in the Sahara Desert, is around 130°F (54.4°C).

That said, the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth was 136°F (57.77 °C) in El Azizia, Libya on the edge of the Sahara Desert. The second hottest, 134°F (56.6°C), was recorded in Death Valley, California in the Mojave Desert way back in 1913.

Whereas, the coldest temperature on the Earth was recorded at Vostok, Antarctica on July 31, 1983 at -128.6°F (-89.22°C).

Light travels from the Sun to the Earth in about 8 minutes and 19 seconds.

While it only takes 8 minutes and 19 seconds for the light from the surface of the Sun to reach us, it actually takes about 10,000-170,000 years for a photon to travel from the core of the Sun to the surface.

The Earth's solid iron core, is surrounded by a fluid ocean of hot, liquid metal, that creates electric currents and consequently generates a magnetic field.

The magnetic North Pole, first located in the early 19th century, has moved more than 600 miles (1,100 kilometers) northward since then.

In the early 20th century it was estimated to have been migrating at about 10 miles (16 km) per year and is said to be moving even faster now at about 40 miles (64 km) per year in a northward direction.

About 800,000 years ago if you were to have stood facing what we call North now (by compass), you would actually have been facing South.

As alluded to, gravity on the Earth is not uniform.

According to a paper published in the journal 'Nature', scientists theorized that at one point the Earth may have had two close orbiting Moons.

Outlined in the research paper, they explain just as the Moon was created some 4.5 billion years ago most likely from debris accreted, when a Mar's-sized object collided into Earth, a smaller sister moon made of the same rocky debris was also formed.

This smaller moon was believed to have eventually had a slow-moving collision with the bigger Moon. The slow speed collision could have been forceful enough to plaster debris from the companion moon to the larger moon, rather than a fast collision that would have caused a crater or displayed signs of melting rock from the impact.

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.