In the big blue sky, the Sun looks like a small, shiny circle. But the Sun is actually really huge, just really far away (93 million miles). Here’s a handy trick to remember: the stripey planet Jupiter is 10 times as wide as our whole Earth, and the Sun is 10 times as wide as Jupiter. That means the Sun is 100 times as wide as Earth. So our friend Evy H. asked, how much does the Sun weigh? Well, “weight” means how much Earth’s gravity pulls down on a thing. But its “mass,” or the amount of stuff in it, is 2 nonillion kilograms, which is a 2 followed by thirty zeroes! On a scale on Earth, that would weigh 4 1/2 nonillion pounds — and totally squash us all. (And by the way, if you’re a fan with your own number question, send it in and we’ll try to answer it!)
Wee ones: The Sun is really a giant ball, which looks like a circle from the side. Can you find any ball shapes in the room? How many?
Little kids: Along with the Sun and Jupiter, we can see Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and the Moon without binoculars or telescopes. How many sky objects is that? Bonus: The days of the week are named after them, like SUN-day. The 4th day of the week is named after Mercury in other languages. Which day is that?
Big kids: If Earth is 8,000 miles wide and Jupiter is about 10 times as wide, about how wide is Jupiter in miles? Bonus: Then about how wide is the Sun in miles?
The sky’s the limit: Our moon is only about 2,000 miles wide. How many moons wide is the Sun?
Wee ones: Different for everyone…you might have a toy ball, a globe or a marble.
Little kids: 7 sky objects. Bonus: Wednesday (miercoles in Spanish, mercredi in French).
Big kids: About 80,000 miles. Bonus: About 800,000 miles.
The sky’s the limit: 400 times, since Earth is 4 times as wide as the Moon and the Sun is 100 times as wide as we are. Every Earth-width “chunk” has 4 moon widths in it.
Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking before she could walk, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.