Although we have been studying it for thousands of years, the Universe never ceases to amaze us. We find out something new and exciting about our solar system every year, and with every new discovery we are one step closer to the question that has been haunting us since the dawn of civilisation: are we alone in the Universe?
As complex and puzzling as it may be, our solar system can be easily explained in several simple, fun and entertaining facts, which will hopefully help sparkle your children’s interest to discover more. Here you will find the top 10 most interesting facts about the solar system for kids:
1. All Celestial Bodies in Our Solar System Revolve Around the Sun
Until a few centuries ago, people were absolutely convinced that the Earth is the center of the Universe and that the Sun and all the other celestial bodies revolve around it, when the truth is that the Sun is the centerpiece and all the other planets (including the earth) orbit around it, due to its immense gravity. Formed around five billion years ago, our solar system encompasses a variety of different planets, moons, meteoroids, asteroids, comets and space residue.
2. There are Four Planets with Rings – Not Just Saturn!
Saturn is not the only planet that has rings around it – Uranus, Neptune and Jupiter have as well. The reason why Saturn is known for its rings is because they are the biggest and the most visible ones from Earth. Astronomers and scientists have discovered that these rings are made up of ice, rocks and other particles, and they orbit around planets the same way planets orbit around the Sun.
3. There is an Asteroid Belt Between Jupiter and Mars
The Galaxy is home to an indefinite number of celestial bodies, asteroids and asteroid belts, and our solar system only represents a fraction of the observable Universe. However, as far as we can tell, there is one notable asteroid belt located right between Jupiter and Mars, and it is made of a variety of asteroids of different shapes and sizes.
4. One Day on Mercury Equals Two Months on Earth
This is one of the most interesting facts about our solar system for kids. Based on the way we track days, months and years (one full rotation of the Earth), one day on Mercury, which is the innermost planet of our solar system, equals no less than 58 days on Earth. Also, given the fact that Mercury is so close to the Sun, one year on Mercury equals to only 88 days on Earth.
5. A Supernova Explosion Produces More Energy Than the Sun
It is known that when a Supernova explodes, it outshines the entire galaxy. However, did you know that the first few seconds following the explosion, the Supernova generates dramatically more energy than the Sun did ever since it was created?
6. There are Eight Planets and Five Dwarf Planets in Our Solar System
For centuries, we only knew about five planets in our solar system, but as we have evolved and started building state of the art telescopes, we have managed to identify not only eight planets but also five additional dwarf planets. The planets are Mercury, Neptune, Uranus, Venus, Terra (Earth), Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, while the dwarf planets (large planetary bodies that have not cleared their orbit, but that do not orbit around other celestial bodies either) are Ceres, Haumea, Makemake, Eris and the well-known Pluto.
7. Terrestrial Planets vs. Gas Giants
There are two different types of planets in our solar system: the inner planets, which are also known as terrestrial planets mainly because they consist of metals and rocks, and the outer planets which are also known as gas giants and are mainly made of gases such as helium and hydrogen.
8. There are No Less than 140 Different Moons in Our Solar System
Just because we only see one Moon from Earth – ours – it does not mean that it is the only one in our solar system. As a matter of fact, astronomers have managed to identify and name up to 140 moons that orbit all the eight planets in the system. Unlike the planets, which orbit the Sun, these Moons orbit the planets they are closest too and once again, it is the gravitational force that is responsible for this.
9. Venus is the Hottest Planet in the Solar System
You may be tempted to believe that the hottest planet in the solar system would be the innermost one – Mercury, in our case. However, the truth is that Venus holds that title, and it is considerably hotter than Mercury and any other planet mainly because of its extremely thick atmosphere that simply traps the heat generated by the Sun.
10. The Olympus Mons of Mars is the Largest Volcanic Mountain
Earth is certainly not the only planet in our solar system to have sky-high Volcanic mountains – as a matter of fact, the largest one is known as Olympus Mons, it is located on Mars and it measures no less than 27 kilometres in height.
Jack Bennett is the founder and editor of Stargazing in the UK. He lives in London and have started this blog about stargazing and amateur astronomy for beginners to keep track of his attempts to explore the Universe.