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Astronomy. The Solar System. Our solar system consists of one Sun, eight planets, a few dwarf planets, and many, many, moons. The solar system also contains asteroids, meteors, meteorites, meteoroids and comets to name a few.

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the solar system
The Solar System
  • Our solar system consists of one Sun, eight planets, a few dwarf planets, and many, many, moons.
  • The solar system also contains asteroids, meteors, meteorites, meteoroids and comets to name a few.
  • The solar system also has man made items, also. Such as, satellites, rockets, a space station, and “space junk.”
the sun
  • The Sun is the closest star to us
  • It is what gives us light and energy for life
  • It is 92 million miles away from Earth = one astronomical unit (AU)
  • It is like a giant nuclear power plant, constantly converting Hydrogen into Helium. (H -> He)
  • It will eventually die out once it loses its fuel source, and the star will collapse
the s u n s interior
The Sun’sInterior
  • The Core: the location in the center of the star where the nuclear fusion is taking place
  • The Radiation Zone: middle layer where the energy very slowly passes from the core outward
  • The Convection Zone: outermost layer where the hot gases rises from the RZ and cool and then fall back towards the RZ—creating a convection current
features on the sun
Features on the Sun
  • Sunspots: cool areas located on the Sun
  • Prominences: loops of gas usually linking groups of sunspots
  • Solar Flare: connected prominences that have so much energy that they are released from the Sun out into space
    • They can be seen as auroras on Earth
    • They can disrupt our satellite links and cell phone services


Prominence and Solar Flares


sun spots
Sun Spots
  • Solar flare: March 9, 2012
  • Stars are classified according to their color, temperature, size, composition, and brightness.
  • Color: determined by the temperature
    • (coolest) RedRed-Orange Yellow  White Blue (hottest)
    • 0C 3000 4500 5750 10,000 50,000
  • Size: Even though they all appear the same to us, they can be very different
  • Composition: Helium, Hydrogen, Sodium, Calcium
  • Brightness: depends on its size and temperature
    • Apparent Brightness: Brightness as seen from Earth
    • Absolute Brightness: Brightness of the star if we were all at equal distances to every star
the eight planets plus pluto
The Inner Planets

Small and Rocky

Few or no Moons





The Outer Planets

Large and gaseous

Many Moons

All have rings





The EIGHT Planets(plus Pluto)
poor pluto
Poor Pluto
  • Why doesn’t Pluto qualify as a planet?
    • It’s too small
    • It doesn’t fit the pattern of a planet in that location in our solar system
    • Its orbit is out of sync with the other planets
    • It is now considered a DWARF PLANET

Sometimes called a sub-planet

mercury inner planet
Mercury — Inner Planet
  • Smallest Planet
  • Closest to the Sun
  • Has virtually no atmosphere, which is why it has so many craters
  • Moon: none
  • Day: 59 Earth days
  • Year: 0.24 Earth Year

( about 88 days)

venus inner planet
Venus — Inner Planet
  • Very similar is size and shape to Earth, so it is sometimes called “Earth’s Twin”
  • Its atmosphere is so thick its always cloudy, but those clouds are acidic!
  • Moon: none
  • Day: 243 Earth days
  • Year: 0.62 Earth Years

( 226 days)

earth inner planet
Earth — Inner Planet
  • Rocky planet with an atmosphere which is mostly Nitrogen
  • Only planet with Life
  • Only planet with liquid water
  • Moon: one
mars inner planet
Mars — Inner Planet
  • The atmosphere is 95% CO2.
  • The planet has extreme temperature differences…70oF during the day and -225oF at night!
  • Mars also is tilted like Earth, so it too has seasons
  • Location we are planning on making a space station in the near future
  • Moons: two
  • Day: 24.7 Earth hours
  • Year: 1.9 Earth Years

(693 Earth Days)

asteroid belt
Asteroid Belt
  • The inner planets and the outer planets are separated by an asteroid belt
  • An asteroid is a small rocky substance that orbits the Sun
jupiter outer planet
Jupiter – Outer Planet
  • Largest Planet
  • Thick atmosphere made out of Hydrogen and Helium
  • Probably has a dense core, but most of the planet is gaseous
  • Has rings
  • Moons: 60+
  • Day: 10 Earth Hours
  • Year: 12 Earth Years
saturn outer planet
Saturn—Outer Planet
  • Second largest planet in the solar system
  • Well known for its system of rings
  • Gaseous planet made out of Helium and Hydrogen
  • Moons: 31+
  • Day: 11 hours
  • Year: 29 years
uranus outer planet
Uranus—Outer Planet
  • Also a gaseous planet, with traces of methane which makes it blue-green
  • It axis of rotation is tilted so it rotates head over heel instead of spinning like a top
  • Does have rings
  • Moons:13+
  • Day: 16 hours
  • Year: 84 Earth Years
neptune outer planet
Neptune –Outer Planet
  • Cold, blue planet
  • It has clouds and storms, but not with water like ours
  • Does have rings
  • Moons: 13+
  • Day: 16 hours
  • Year: 164 years
meteors meteorites meteroids
  • Meteoroid: free floating rock in outer space
  • Meteor: rock fragments burning as they make there way through our atmosphere; we see them as “Shooting Stars”
  • Meteorite: If there are any pieces of rock that make it to the ground, the remaining piece is called a meteorite



Meteor or shooting star

Crater caused by meteorite

Meteorites onMars

black holes
Black Holes
  • An object in space whose gravity is so strong that not even light can escape
  • A comet is a ball of dust and ice that orbits the Sun
  • Sometimes called a “Dirty Snowball”
  • The most famous is Halley’s Comet that appears every 76 years, due in 2062, (last seen in 1986, next seen in 2062)
  • The last comet we could see was Hale-Bopp in 1997



Halley’s Comet

Hale-Bopp 1997

  • The seasons on Earth are due to the tilt of the Earth, NOT how close we are to the Sun.
  • We are actually closest to the Sun in the Winter, but the Northern Hemisphere is tilted away from the sun, so we receive less direct Sun rays.


tilt of the earth causes seasons
Tilt of the Earth causes Seasons

During the winter, we are tilted AWAY from the Sun.

During the summer, we are tilted TOWARDS the Sun

distance of earth to the sun during its orbit
Distance of Earth to the Sun during its Orbit

We are CLOSER to the Sun on January 2nd than on July 2nd