Can Planets Bend Light?

Because large objects in space have an effect on light, can smaller objects do the same thing? Can something the size of the Earth also influence light and make it bend?
This artist's concept shows OGLE-2016-BLG-1195Lb, a planet discovered through a technique called microlensing. Image credit: 

This artist's concept shows OGLE-2016-BLG-1195Lb, a planet discovered through a technique called microlensing. Image credit: 

Every object in the universe with mass has the potential to bend light a little; the harder part is being able to measure that change.

This behavior of light, taking apparently curved paths around very massive...

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How Much Closer To The Sun Does The Moon Travel?

Does the Moon get closer to the Sun than the Earth?
Photographed by an Expedition 28 crew member onboard the International Space Station, this image shows the moon at center, with the limb of Earth near the bottom transitioning into the orange-colored troposphere, the lowest and most dense portion of the Earth's atmosphere. Image credit: NASA

Photographed by an Expedition 28 crew member onboard the International Space Station, this image shows the moon at center, with the limb of Earth near the bottom transitioning into the orange-colored troposphere, the lowest and most dense portion of the Earth's atmosphere. Image credit: NASA

In order to tackle this question, we have to understand a bit about the geometry of the solar system, and how both the planets and the moons which orbit those planets behave.

Most of the planets in the solar system circle the Sun in a very thin plane, meaning...

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What Does The Far Side Of The Moon Look Like?

Have we taken any sort of video, or still pictures of the dark side of the moon?
An oblique view of the Crater Daedalus on the lunar farside as seen from the Apollo 11 spacecraft in lunar orbit. Daedalus (formerly referred to as Crater No. 308) is has a diameter of about 50 miles. This is a typical scene showing the rugged terrain on the farside of the moon. Image credit: NASA

An oblique view of the Crater Daedalus on the lunar farside as seen from the Apollo 11 spacecraft in lunar orbit. Daedalus (formerly referred to as Crater No. 308) is has a diameter of about 50 miles. This is a typical scene showing the rugged terrain on the farside of the moon. Image credit: NASA

We absolutely have, and they are super fun! A first point of clarification, though - there’s no “dark side” of the Moon.

There’s a far side which is never visible from our perspective on the Earth, but with the exception of during a full moon, the far side of the moon is...

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Why Don't Space Suits Go Rigid When Astronauts Go On Spacewalks?

Why don’t space suits inflate like a Michelin Man when on the Moon or outside the Space Station?
In this photo, Astronaut David A. Wolf, STS-112 mission specialist, anchored to a foot restraint on the Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS) or Canadarm2, carries the Starboard One (S1) outboard nadir external camera. Image credit: NASA

In this photo, Astronaut David A. Wolf, STS-112 mission specialist, anchored to a foot restraint on the Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS) or Canadarm2, carries the Starboard One (S1) outboard nadir external camera. Image credit: NASA

They very easily could! If you had a poorly designed space suit or an overly pressurized suit, an astronaut could very easily find themselves immobilized, unable to contort their suit into a useful position. With the inside of a suit set to normal sea level pressure...

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How Do We Map The Earth’s Gravity?

Can Earth’s center of gravity be located? And if so, to what precision?
Satellite measurements offer scientists a new view of our planet. Warm colors (red, orange, yellow) represent areas with strong gravity. Cool colors (green, blue) represent areas with weak gravity. Image credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Satellite measurements offer scientists a new view of our planet. Warm colors (red, orange, yellow) represent areas with strong gravity. Cool colors (green, blue) represent areas with weak gravity. Image credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Earth’s center of gravity can be located! We talked a few months ago about measuring the force of gravity surrounding the Moon, and that the way we do this measurement is by having twin satellites, and calculating the difference in gravitational pull...

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