Kathy Marbert

University of South Carolina, Aiken

As a student of the University of South Carolina, Aiken working on my teacher recertification, I have put together a lesson on the solar system.  The reader will hopefully learn at least a little something new about its make-up and workings.


Are you ready for a first-class tour of the Solar System?

Just sit back, relax, and prepare for a wonderful journey through the planets and outer space.

Fasten your seatbelts. Here we go!

The Solar System consists of the Sun and all the objects that orbit around it. The Sun is the heaviest, largest, and hottest body in the Solar System.

So far we know of nine planets in our Solar System. Perhaps more may be discovered when we are able to see farther and farther into deep space. These planets can be separated into two groups.

The inner planets, the ones that orbit closest to the Sun, are Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars. The outer planets - Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto - orbit much farther away.

Each of the nine planets has two ways of moving. Every planet spins, or rotates, on its own axis. (An axis is an imaginary line that goes through the poles.) The time it takes for a planet to rotate is known as a "day". Since the Earth spins on its axis every 24 hours, OUR day is 24 hours long. A day on Jupiter is the shortest - a little less than 10 hours. However, the planet Venus travels very slowly. One day on Venus would last for 243 of our Earth days!

The planets also revolve around the Sun. The path that each planet follows around the Sun is called its orbit.

The time needed for a planet to make one trip around the Sun is called a "year". You know that a year on Earth is about 365 and one-fourth days. Since Pluto's orbit is so far from the Sun, its year lasts for 247 of our years.



Besides the planets, there are countless smaller bodies that are part of our solar system:  asteroids, which are minor planets;

  comets, which are frozen balls of ice;

and meteors, which are solid particles, all belong to our Solar System.

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"The views expressed on this page are not necessarily those of the University of South Carolina."  (January, 2001)