5 Lies You Were Taught About the Earth

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5 Lies You Were Taught About the Earth

When it comes to our home planet, it can be hard to separate fact from fiction. For instance, in spite of what you may have heard in history or science class, it’s not, in fact, possible to see the Great Wall of China from outer space.

And that’s not the only common misconception about Earth. Here are some of the biggest lies you were probably taught about Earth.

Columbus Discovered That the Earth Is Round

An old model ship
Credit: Theera Disayarat / Shutterstock.com

You’ve probably heard the famous “in fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue” poem. As the legend goes, against all odds, Christopher Columbus headed out on a voyage to East Asia by heading west instead of east from Europe. The monarchy (who funded the trip) was worried that Columbus would never return because, of course, Earth was a big flat pancake and he might fall off.

Even by the 1400s, flat Earth theories had already been debunked, and the orb shape was already accepted after being proposed by Pythagoras thousands of years before. In fact, the voyage was plotted out based on the fact that the Earth was round! Coming upon America was a surprise, however.

You Can See The Great Wall of China From Space

The Great Wall of China
Credit: zhao jiankang / Shutterstock.com

It makes for a great story: Way up from outer space, astronauts can gaze upon the Great Wall of China. We hate to tell you, this not true.

While the wall may be great, according to NASA, it’s less visible than you might think from outer space. In fact, Chinese astronaut Yang Liwei reported that he wasn’t able to see the structure from space. Other astronauts have reported that it’s barely visible with a telephoto lens but not to the naked eye.

However, there’s still some good news for astro-followers: Certain landmarks, like cities and major reservoirs, are visible from space.

Earth Is Closer to The Sun in Summer

The sun rising above Earth in outer space
Credit: Skylines / Shutterstock.com

It seems like sound logic: it’s hotter in the summer because the Earth is closer to the sun at that time of year, right? Sorry, but no.

Consider this. If that were the case, how could it be summer in the southern hemisphere at the same time it’s winter in the northern hemisphere?

While it’s a little harder to wrap your mind around, it’s all based on the angle of the Earth. The Earth tilts, and its axis can vary throughout the course of its cycle. This is what causes the difference in seasons. A greater tilt means hotter summers and colder winters.

A Compass Always Points Due North

A compass sitting on a rock
Credit: R_Tee / iStock

If you trust movies and TV, then you’re apt to think that a compass will always point due north. However, this isn’t quite the case. A compass points to the magnetic north. This is an important distinction because the magnetic pole changes based on activity in the Earth’s core.

That’s right: the magnetic pole that attracts all compasses is a moving target. It has been moving rapidly in recent years — as much as 30 or more miles per year. So be sure to take your compass reading with a grain of salt!

Deserts Are Always Hot

A desert landscape in Joshua Tree National Park
Credit: Joke van Eeghem / Shutterstock.com

While the term “desert” probably makes you think of miles of sand and heat-induced mirages, deserts are not always hot.

A desert is considered any place that receives less than 10 inches of rain per year. This isn’t limited to hot places. For example, many of the polar regions of the world could be considered deserts because they don’t get much precipitation.

Doesn’t it feel good to unearth (get it?) the truth? There are plenty of misconceptions about the planet that we call home. But as time goes on and we learn more, we’re correcting these long-held, so-called “truths.”

3 Desert Destinations to Relax In

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

3 Desert Destinations to Relax In

Deserts are an excellent place to take some time for yourself. Sparsely inhabited spaces, breathtaking sights, and warm climates will all help you unwind. Here are three desert destinations where you can relax.

Joshua Tree, California

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This quirky town is located a couple of hours outside of Los Angeles and is a high-desert refuge for artists and free thinkers. It is also the entry point to Joshua Tree National Park. While many desert destinations are defined by their general emptiness, Joshua Tree National Park is celebrated for the great abundance of interesting things.

The park gets its name from the trees that are found almost everywhere. Joshua trees appear to have come to life from the illustrations of a Dr. Seuss book. The ubiquity of the trees and the many interestingly shaped boulders and other natural rock structures give the park an otherworldly appeal.

Joshua Tree is also a haven for rock climbing, if your idea of relaxing involves climbing to the top of a boulder or a cliff face. In addition, extensive trail systems let you wander the park and see the unique ecosystem where the Colorado and Mojave deserts meet. There are also multiple campsites where you can sleep under the stars and enjoy the eerie landscape in the dark.

Sedona, Arizona

Credit: Beth Ruggiero-York / Shutterstock.com

If you prefer your desert oasis to have a bit more infrastructure, head to Sedona. This town, just 30 miles south of Flagstaff, is known for the striking red sandstone rock formations that surround it. Sedona is also at the center of hundreds of miles of trails for use by runners, bikers, and hikers.

Sedona first came to prominence as the center of the Sedona spiritual vortexes, or natural lines of electromagnetic energy. While the Sedona spiritual vortexes may not be for everyone, learning about the history of the phenomenon can be a fun, different way to relax on your trip.

Fine dining and vegan options can be found in town alongside luxurious accommodations. Sedona’s deep desert location can make it a tough sell during the summer months, when temperatures are regularly in the 90s. However, it is an excellent fall destination, when temperatures drop to a much more comfortable level.

Moab, Utah

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The small town of Moab may not have the same luxuries that Sedona offers, but the desert surroundings more than make up for this. The biggest draws are the nearby Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park.

Arches National Park is to the north of Moab and is adjacent to the town. Here you will find over 2,000 natural stone archways formed over centuries of erosion. About five miles south of Moab is Canyonlands National Park, a desert destination divided into four distinct areas by the intersection of the Green River and the Colorado River. The Island in the Sky Mesa allows for panoramic views of the surrounding desert. The Needles section of the park will let you visit impressive sandstone spires.

Moab doesn’t deliver relaxing desert activities only from inside the nearby parks, however. Within proximity of the city, you will also find spots where you can mountain bike, raft, and camp. No matter how you prefer to relax in the desert, you will find a way to do so in Moab.