Solar System


  • Began 5 ________ years ago when gas and dust collapsed due to gravity
    • Rotation- spins around axis
    • ____________- one trip around the sun


Fun Facts about the Planets

Mercury- biggest _____________ difference. 441 to --279 degrees F, one day is ______ of its year, covered in craters

Venus- volcanoes, extreme ______________ effect, rains __________ acid, day is longer than a year and rotates backwards

Earth- well you know about that!

Mars- ________ from iron oxide! Evidence of water erosion. Gigantic face on Mars was thought to be evidence of aliens! The Mars Rovers have yet to find life.

Asteriod Belt- rocky fragments of a failed _________ that circle the sun. Never formed into a planet due to gravitational pull from Jupiter.

Jupiter- failed sun (brown planet), _______ times the mass of all the other planets combined!, belts of colored clouds, day is 9 hours! Great ______Spot- red swirling hurricane.

Saturn- rings are failed moon, so light it ________ on water.

Uranus- ______ planet, rings, rotates sideways!

Neptune- blue planet, moving great dark spot, rings.

Pluto- dwarf planet, not a real planet because small, rocky and has ________ orbit, switches with Neptune for ____th planet.


Homework: Pick a planet and research its characteristics. Then, design a creature that could survive on that planet!


ALien Creature Design Lab

Planetary Creature Fact sheet

Planetary Data Sheet- reference tables

Welcome to the Planets facts

Nine Planets facts

Designing Your Alien!


2 Types of Planets

Jovian/ Gas Giant-

Note that the inner planets are all tiny and crowded in close to the sun!

Fun fact: Planets were orginally named (in latin) for the days of the week.

Here's a good way to remember the order of planets:

My Very Excellent Mother Just Sent Us N__________! (or Nine Pizzas!!)

Ways to tell a planet from a star:

  • Planets appear to move a lot ___________ through the sky than stars.
  • Stars twinkle, planets don't
  • Some planets can be a lot ___________ than any of the stars (except for our sun!)

New planets outside our solar system are found all the time!



Other Objects in the Solar System

Moons- orbit planets

Comets- dirty ___________

  • frozen gas-
  • highly tilted orbit
  • tail of comet is pushed by solar _________ (charged particles)- pushed opposite the sun

Meteor- rocky particle that enters our atmosphere. A __________ star!

Asteroid- large meteor that orbits the sun (often comes from the asteroid belt)

How often do meteors and asteroids hit the Earth?

  • pea sized rock hits our atm every ___________
  • grapefruit size _____ a year
  • 1/2 football field size every ________ years
  • 1 mile wide- every __00,000 years
  • 6 miles wide (size that killed the dinosaurs)- every __00 million years

Can we stop the next big one?


Historical Astronomy

Ptolemy- 87-150 A.D. Proposed the Geocentric Model for the Solar System- the ________ was at the center of the solar system and every planet and the sun revolved around it!

Planets were believed to travel in perfect _________ around the Earth and to move in retrograde motion- planets drifted ___________ and forwards!

This was the accepted model for 13 centuries and backed by the Church.

Copernicus- 1473-1543 A.D. Proposed the Heliocentric Model for the Solar System which correctly placed the _______ at its center.

Tycho Brahe- 1546-1601. Impossibly rude man who was an excellent observer of nature. Catalogued hundreds of ________. Lost his ________ in a duel over mathematics!

Johannes Kepler- 1571-1630. Assistant to Brahe and extraordinary mathematician. Proposed the Laws of Planetary Motion.

  1. Planets move in ellipses- ________ not circles.
  2. The __________ a planet is to the sun in its orbit the faster it will move
  3. Between two planets, the _______ planet will orbit fastest.

Galileo Galilei 1564-1642. Father of modern observational astronomy. Challenged the geocentric model. Placed under _________ arrest for heresy. Improved the telescope.

  1. Saw the moon had ___________- Imperfect sphere!!!
  2. Discovered four _________ of Jupiter. Everything "should" revolve around the Earth!
  3. Found the phases of Venus to indicate it revolved around the _______ not the Earth.
  4. Discovered sun_________ (which caused him to go blind)- Imperfect sphere!!!!!

Isaac Newton- Proposed the mathematical formula for _________.

  1. The more massive the planets the _________ the gravity between them.
  2. The _________ the planets, the greater the gravitational pull.

Elvis weighed 225 on Earth...

How much would Elvis weigh on:

  • Elvis on Mercury- 97 lbs
  • Elvis on Jupiter- _______ lbs
  • Elvis on the moon- 43 lbs
  • Elvis on the SUN- _______ lbs

Gravity experiment in space


Eccentricity- How oval an orbit is. The higher the number the more oval the orbit. The numbers range between 0 and 1.

eccentricity= distance between the foci divided by the length of the major axis

Eccentricity of a circle is _______. The eccentricity of a straight line is 1.


Fun fact: The Earth's orbit is a very slight ellipse. During fall and winter we are closer to the sun so it is shorter in duration than spring and summer.




The Sun!

The sun contains 99.9% of the mass of the solar system and it is 93 million miles away. If it burned out right NOW it would take us ____ minutes to realize it.

Gallery of pictures

Sun Spots are darked regions of the sun's surface caused by magnetic storms that surge every ____ years!


Northern lights are created when solar wind interacts with our magnetosphere.

Aurora Boreolis


What's up in space