Facts About Planets

The solar system is a huge space that consists of the Sun, the planets, and other objects. Other objects in the solar system include moons, comets, asteroids, dwarf planets, dust and gas. All planets and objects in the solar system orbit, or travel around, the Sun. However, most of the solar system is empty space even with all these objects.

The solar system itself is part of a galaxy called the Milky Way. A galaxy is a huge system of stars, gas, dust and other objects that are held together by a pulling force called gravity. The solar system with all its objects orbits the centre of the Milky Way galaxy. The universe is in fact made up of billions of galaxies that were formed billions of years ago when the universe began.

the Solar System

How the Solar System Formed

The solar system was formed about 4.7 billion years ago. Scientists think that it started as a cloud of gas and dust, then gravity pulled parts of the cloud together into clumps. The gravity pressed the largest clump so tightly until it got so hot. This clump then became the Sun. The other clumps became planets over millions of years. The powerful gravity of the Sun pulled the planets and made them orbit the Sun. Some of the leftover clumps became asteroids, comets and other objects in the solar system.

The Sun

The Sun is the star at the centre of the solar system and the largest object in it. It is a hot ball of gases, mainly hydrogen and helium, and it gives off a great amount of energy. It is around 4.5 billion years old. The Sun’s diameter is 1,392,000 kilometres (865,000 miles). The Sun alone contains about 99% of all the material in the solar system. The temperature at the Sun’s core is more than 15,600,000° C (28,080,000° F). All planets, comets, and asteroids in the solar system orbit the sun. Life on Earth depends on heat and light from the Sun, and it would not exist without the Sun.

the Sun

The Planets

There are eight planets orbiting the Sun in the solar system. These planets are: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. If you can’t remember the correct order, try this sentence: “My Very Easy Method Just Speeds Up Naming.” Let’s explore each planet in detail!

Interesting Facts about Planets

  1. Mercury is the second densest planet in the solar system, after Earth, even though it is so small.
  2. Sunlight takes about 3.2 minutes to travel from the Sun to Mercury.
  3. Mercury is bright and it can be seen from Earth without a telescope.
  4. Although Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun, it is not the hottest planet. The hottest planet in the solar system is Venus.
  5. Venus and Mercury are the only planets in the Solar System that do not have any moons.
  6. Venus can be seen with the naked eye from Earth without a telescope.
  7. Venus shines so bright because it reflects most of the sunlight that it receives from the Sun.
  8. A space journey from Earth to Venus takes 6 months long.
  9. Any spacecraft sent to Venus survives only for around an hour because of the hot temperatures.
  10. Venus is the planet that has the most volcanoes in the solar system. It has more than 1600 volcanoes, and some of them are active.
  11. Scientists call the distance between the Sun and Earth an “astronomical unit.” This unit is used to measure and compare great distances in space.
  12. Without the atmosphere of Earth, oceans would freeze and there wouldn’t be life on Earth anymore.
  13. Sunlight takes about 8 minutes to travel from the Sun and reach Earth.
  14. Earth’s moon is the fifth largest moon in the solar system.
  15. A spacecraft takes about 3 days to travel from the Earth to the Moon.
  16. Earth is so compact that it is actually the densest planet in the solar system.
  17. The Moon rises from the east and sets from the west, just like the Sun.
  18. The Moon is shaped like an egg.
  19. Most scientists believe that there is water on the Moon, but they are still researching.
  20. Earth’s moon is simply called “the Moon” because people did not know any other moons until 1610 when Jupiter’s first moons were discovered.
  21. Mars can be seen with the naked eye from Earth without any telescopes.
  22. There are pieces of Mars that have fallen on Earth.
  23. Mars has strong winds, and they are an obstacle for the space crafts that scientists send from Earth.
  24. Mars has seasons like Earth, but they last longer than they do on Earth.
  25. Jupiter can be seen from Earth without a telescope.
  26. Every 13 months, Jupiter comes closer to Earth and becomes very bright in our night sky.
  27. A space journey from Earth to Jupiter takes around 13 months long.
  28. Some scientists consider Jupiter a failed star because of its great mass. If Jupiter were 75 times more massive, it would become a star just like the Sun.
  29. Jupiter generates more heat than it receives from the Sun.
  30. Saturn is the least dense planet in the solar system that if you could put it in water, it would float.
  31. Saturn generates more heat than it receives from the Sun.
  32. The winds on Saturn are the second fastest winds of a planet in the solar system, after Neptune’s winds.
  33. The day “Saturday” is named after planet Saturn.
  34. Uranus was the first planet that scientists discovered after the invention of the telescope.
  35. Uranus can sometimes be seen with the naked eye from Earth, but only on a very clear night sky.
  36. In 2033, Uranus will complete its third orbit around the Sun since its discovery.
  37. The moons of Uranus are all dark and frozen.
  38. The surfaces of the biggest moons of Uranus together are smaller than the continent of Australia.
  39. Both Uranus and Neptune share similar compositions, so scientists classify them as “ice giants.”
  40. Neptune is the only planet that cannot be seen from Earth with the naked eye. It can only be seen with the use of a telescope.
  41. One of Neptune’s moons, called Triton, is the coldest object in the solar system.
  42. Pluto, Venus, and Uranus rotate from east to west. This is called a retrograde rotation.
  43. Pluto is tilted, meaning that it rotates almost on its side.
  44. Pluto passes inside the orbit of Neptune when it comes closer to the Sun.
  45. Although Pluto is farther from the Sun than Neptune, it gets closer than Neptune to the Sun during its orbit.
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