"How big is the Sun?" It's one of those questions children will inevitably ask at some point, and that you might struggle to find the right way to answer. It's one thing to say it's 330,000 times more massive than Earth, or that it contains a minimum of 99.8% of the solar system's total mass. But most children will probably stare back blankly when you say that. Instead, you might explain that you could easily fit more than a million Earths into the Sun.
If you want to see faces of true astonishment, try telling the kids that our Sun is actually pretty average. It is simply one of more than 100 billion suns, or stars, in the Milky Way galaxy. And while some stars are smaller, plenty are much, much bigger. For example, the red giant Betelgeuse is approximately 700 times bigger than our Sun. Not only that, but even though you can't look directly at the Sun, its brightness is nothing compared with that of Betelgeuse, which is 14,000 times greater.
Some more Sun stats:
- The Sun is 93 million miles (150 million km) from Earth, which is a good thing: Its surface temperature is 10,000 degrees F (5,538 degrees C).
- It is estimated that the Sun was "born" about 4.5 billion years ago and has about 7 billion years left.
- Most of the Sun (74%) consists of hydrogen, 24% percent is helium, and the remaining 2% is a mix of many other elements.