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Educational Guide to the Solar System

Most kids know that the sun, the moon, and the Earth are part of the solar system. The solar system also includes the planets of Venus, Pluto, Neptune, Saturn, Mercury, Mars, Uranus, and Jupiter. Stars, comets, meterorites, and asteroids are also elements in the solar system. Hundreds of years of study have allowed astronomers to discover more and more about the solar system. The following looks at some of the interesting features of our solar system. The Sun The sun is a star located in the middle of the solar system. Though it seems like the sun would be the largest star in the universe, there are other stars that are much larger. Everyone know that the sun is hot, but, did you know that temperature of the sun is 27,000,000 degrees Fahrenheit? The sun is made up of many gases including hydrogen, helium, carbon, nitrogen, iron, and oxygen. When the moon moves between the sun and the earth it is called a solar eclipse. When a solar eclipse occurs, it gets dark on earth for a few minutes during the day and the temperature drops making it colder. The Moon A kid traveling from the earth to the moon in a space ship would have to travel 240,000 miles to get there! This is about a three day trip. The moon goes around the earth at high speed, approximately 2,288 miles per hour. The moon is much smaller than the earth. If the earth were divided into four equal pieces, the moon would be the size of just one of the pieces. The Stars Most kids know that stars are made up of swirling gases. Here are some things that kids may not know about stars. There are billions and billions of stars in our solar system; no one knows the exact number. The star that is 'closest' to the earth is called Proxima Centauri. Proxima Centauri is about 25,300,000,000,000 miles away from earth! The Planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Earth, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto are the nine planets that comprise our Solar System. Each planet has its own unique features. For instance, Venus is known as the Eartwin. Venus and the Earth are approximately the same size and weight. Aside from those similarities, the two planets have different types of atmospheres. The planet Mercury is known for having lots of craters. There are no weather conditions on Mercury that can erode the craters, so many remain on the planet. Mercury is also notable for its grey, rocky surface. The planet Mars is known for its red color. The color is a result of the particles of rust that make up its surface. This windy planet experiences lots of dust storms. The location of our planet Earth is the third from the sun and it's billions of years old. While the names of many of our planets come from Greek mythology, the Earth gets its name from an Old English word meaning, 'ground.' The Earth is covered with trillions of gallons of water. The planet Jupiter has a large red spot on it that can be seen through a telescope. This spot is a storm occuring on the planet. The storm is almost the same as a hurricane on Earth, but is more powerful. The stripes on the planet Jupiter are atmospheric gases that are moving in different directions. The planet Saturn is known for its rings. These rings are made up of pieces of asteroids and comets that are running into one another. The planet Uranus is made up of several types of gases including hydrogen and helium. There are at least 27 moons around Uranus. The name Uranus stands for the Greek god of the sky. The planet Neptune is made up of several gases and is blue. There is a dark spot on the surface of Neptune that represents a powerful wind storm. The planet Pluto is known for its extremely cold temperatures. The temperature can get as low as -369 degrees Fahrenheit. Scientists think that Pluto has at least three moons. Asteroids Asteroids are made of rock and come in many sizes. They can be a few inches to hundreds of miles wide. Astronomers have seen asteroids floating through space in groups and individually. The biggest difference between an asteroid and a comet is their construction. Asteroids are rocky structures while comets are formed by gases and dust. Comets Comets are made up of a combination of ice, dust, and various types of gases. Halley's comet is one of the most well-known comets in astronomy. The last time it was seen was in 1986. Halley's comet will be seen again in 2062. Comets change in size as they travel through the atmosphere. Most comets are fewer than six miles wide through the middle. Meteorites Meteorites are rocky pieces of matter traveling through space. Like asteroids and comets, meteoritescome in all shapes and sizes. There are also different types of meteorites including stony meteorites and iron meteorites. Generally, a meteorite gets its name from the location where it is found. Some famous meteorites found on Earth include Cape York, Hoba, and the Allende meteorite. ~Interesting Facts on the Planets ~Learning about the Elements of the Solar System ~A Fun Activity on the Planets and Your 'Age' ~A Planetary Puzzle and More! ~Information on the Planets and Our Solar System ~How to Identify Meteorites ~Questions and Answers about the Solar System ~Learn about Our Universe ~Discover Facts about the Planets ~All about the Planets ~A Comet Game ~A Web Quest about Constellations ~A Web Quest about the Planets ~Facts on the Moon! ~Information on the Lunar Cycle ~Learning about the Earth ~Printable Word Search about the Solar System ~A Virtual Scavenger Hunt on the Solar System ~Profiles of Famous Astronauts ~Explanation of Asteroids

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