Without the sun, we wouldn’t have life. It plays a vital role in our environment, our climate, our currents and seasons, but how much do we really know about this big flaming ball in the sky? Read on for our top 10 amazing facts about the sun for kids!
The sun is around 4.6 billion years old.
If you thought your grandpa was old, just consider that the sun has been present in our solar system for around 4.6 billion years! Our Earth actually formed from elements of the same solar nebula a little later on, and now orbits around the sun at a distance of approximately 149.6 million kilometres.
The Sun alone contains 99.8% of all the matter in our solar system.
The sun has a diameter or about 1.4 million kilometres. While this is relatively small compared to most other giant stars (that’s the largest stars we know about), the sun makes Earth and other planets look like small fry in comparison.
More than one million Earths could fit into the sun.
Earth’s diameter is around 110 times smaller than that of the sun. To put these different sizes into perspective, you could fit around 960,000 Earth-shaped globes within the sun. If you squished many Earths together you could actually fit 1.3 million of them into the sun.
The sun causes the incredible Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis.
The sun shoots out charged particles known as solar wind at around 450 kilometres per second. When these reach the Earth’s magnetic fields (magnetosphere), they disturb gas particles which can create fantastic colours and shifting shapes visible to those in the far north and south.
It takes 8 minutes for light from the sun to reach us here on Earth.
This is one of our favourite sun facts for kids! It takes around 170,000 years for energy to move from the sun’s core to its convective zone, yet it takes just eight minutes and 20 seconds for that energy to travel to Earth in the form of light – at the blistering pace of around 3,000,000 metres per second.
At its core, the sun is about 15 million degrees Celsius.
That’s hot enough to sustain thermonuclear fusion! At its surface, the sun is a much cooler 5,500 degrees Celsius (which is still hot enough to boil diamonds). Solar flares can actually temporarily heat the sun’s surface up to an unfathomable 44 million degrees Celsius.
We’re largely made up of elements from stars just like the sun.
Have you seen all of the elements on the periodic table? Stars convert their hydrogen gas to all of these various elements as they live and die, which is what forms us and our Earth. As NASA elegantly puts it, the iron in our blood actually comes from stars that exploded long ago.
One day the Sun could engulf the Earth.
The sun is made up from about 92.1% hydrogen and 7.8% helium, and it will burn each other up in that order as it expands to a size that will eventually consume Mercury, Venus and possibly Earth. It’s almost burnt up half its lifetime already. Don’t worry though – the sun still has enough hydrogen to burn for about 6.5 billion years yet.
You can get sunburnt when it’s overcast.
There’s a lot of messaging about sun safety for kids but it’s easy to forget that some UV rays can actually make their way through cloud – and can even be stronger with patchy clouds because of the reflection factor. A great reason to seek shade and wear protective clothing when you’re outside!
Your eyes can get ‘sunburnt’.
Too much UV radiation from the sun can cause short and long-term damage to our eyes; the most common type being acute photo keratopathy which is essentially sunburn of the cornea. That’s why it’s a very good idea to wear high rated, wraparound sunglasses when you’re out and about.