Last week at work I was asked to make a science project about the solar system featuring American Crafts Thickers (thick-stickers). I actually had to do some research - thank goodness for something called the world wide web! So what do you think, do I deserve an "A"? :)I found this stuff about planets pretty interesting. And, where have I been the last few years? I didn't know that Pluto is not considered a planet anymore. Everything I learned in kindergarten has changed. What I find most fascinating is how small we are. I mean, 1321 Earths could fit inside Jupiter. And do you know how big Earth is? It takes like 14 hours just to fly to the other side. Anyways. Here are some fun facts about the planets in our solar system:
This is a visual comparison of the first four planets, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars.
Records of Mercury’s existence date back to 1000 BC. It doesn’t have any moons. It is about half the size of Earth. It is the smallest of the eight planets and closest to the sun. It orbits around the sun in 88 days. It takes 59 days to rotate on its axis. The average surface temperature is 800 degrees. A space probe flyby is expected in 2008 so we can learn more about this planet.
Venus is named after the Roman goddess of love. It is the brightest natural object in the night sky except for the moon. It is sometimes called Earth’s “sister planet” because it is similar in size, gravity and bulk composition. . Venus doesn’t have any moons. It orbits the sun every 225 days and rotates on its axis every 243 days. That means a day is longer than a year! It is the hottest planet, reaching up to 900 degrees.
Earth is the only place in the universe where life is known to exist. It orbits the sun every 365 days (one year) and rotates on its axis every 24 hours (one day). It has one moon. Surface temperatures range from -129 degrees to 136 degrees. The tilted axis is what makes the four distinct seasons. Earth formed 4.5 billion years ago. The atmosphere is 78% Nitrogen and 21% Oxygen.
Mars is named after the Roman god of war. It is often referred to as the “Red Planet” because of its reddish appearance. There are currently 3 space probes orbiting Mars. Mars has two moons. It is about 1/10 the size of Earth. Mars orbits the sun every 687 days and rotates on its axis every 24 hours and 39 minutes. Ice has been found on Mars so it’s possible life exists/existed on it.
Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system - 1321 Earths could fit inside it. Jupiter is named after the Roman god Jupiter. It is classified as a gas giant. Jupiter has 63 moons. It orbits the sun every 12 years and rotates on its axis every 399 days. The atmospheric temperature is about -162 degrees. The “Great Red Spot,” easily visible on the surface, is a giant storm that’s been going on since at least the 17th century.
Saturn is named after the Roman god Saturnus. It is a gas giant and the second largest planet in the solar system. Saturn has a prominent system of rings, consisting mostly of ice, debris and dust. 60 known moons orbit Saturn. Wind speeds reach up to 1118 mph. It takes 30 years to orbit the sun and rotates on its axis every 378 days. 95 Earths could fit inside Saturn. If Saturn was submerged in a giant (and I mean giant!) bath tub, it would float.
Uranus is named after the ancient Greek deity of the sky. It looks like a piece of blue bubblegum to me. It was discovered in 1871. It takes 84 years to orbit the sun and 369 days to rotate on its axis. The axis is tilted 90 degrees so each pole gets around 42 years of continuous sunlight, followed by 42 years of darkness. Uranus has a set of vertical rings, though not nearly as extensive as Saturn’s. Uranus has 63 moons.
Neptune is named after the Roman god of the sea. It was discovered in 1846. Neptune has 13 moons. It takes 164 years to orbit around the sun and 367 days to rotate on its axis. 58 Earths could fit inside Neptune. Wind speeds reach up to 1300 mph. It is the coldest planet (because it’s furthest from the sun) with surface temperatures of -360 degrees. Neptune has a small ring system confirmed by the flyby of the Voyager 2.