Solar System – The Sun and Planets
Have you ever looked at the stars at night and wondered about what’s up there? Space is a big place with a lot to explore. At the center of our solar system is the Sun. Around the Sun orbit eight planets, as well as stars, bits of dust, comets and meteoroids. We live in a spiral galaxy known as the Milky Way.
The Sun is huge. It makes up 98 percent of the matter in the solar system. Because of its weight, it has the most gravity. It pulls everything in the solar system toward it. At the same time, the planets pull against that force. Because of this push-pull effect, we don’t get too close to the sun or too far away. Instead, we orbit around the Sun at a predictable pace and location.
Fun Facts about the Solar System for Kids
- The planets nearest the Sun – Mercury, Venus and Earth – lie in the inner solar system. The other planets, as well as asteroids and space junk, lie in the outer solar system.
- The planets nearest the Sun are called terrestrial planets because they are made of solid matter. Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are called the gas giants. They don’t have a solid surface.
- The asteroid belt is an area between Jupiter and Mars where thousands of bits of matter and comets orbit. Some of these pieces are no larger than a speck of dust. Others are 100 miles across or more. Some even have their own moons.
- Scientists have several theories about how the solar system began. Some believe that the solar system was formed when huge clouds of dust and gas collapsed, creating a circular motion sort of like water going down the drain. From these collapsed clouds grew the Sun, planets and stars. People argue over how the process started. Many people believe God created the universe. Others believe the process started by itself.
- The solar system has eight recognized planets, but it has over 100 smaller worlds. Some of these have lakes of liquid methane or erupting volcanoes. Europa has an ocean of water.
- The planets nearest the Sun are smaller than those at the edge of the solar system. The planets nearest the Sun are made of rock and dust. Those near the edge are mostly gas or liquid.
- The planets of the solar system include Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Pluto was previously thought of as a planet. It is now thought of as a dwarf planet. It sits in the Kuiper belt, which includes comets, dust and other dwarf planets. The Kuiper belt lies on the edge of the solar system.
- The moon is made of rock. Since the beginning of mankind, people have watched and studied it.
Solar System Vocabulary
- Orbit: a circular path controlled by gravity
- Galaxy: a huge solar system made up of stars, planets, dust and a central star
- Collapse: falling in on itself
Learn More All About the Solar System, the Sun and Planets
Watch and listen to this fun solar system video:
A video song all about the solar system.
Solar System Q&A
Question: Are there other solar systems?
Answers: Scientists believe there are trillions of other stars like the Sun, which have their own solar systems. It’s quite possible that some of these solar systems may contain life.
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