We live on Earth, which is a planet. Looking up at the sky we can see the sun during the day and at night we can see the moon, planets and stars.
Our sun is a star that is alive and makes lots of energy. It is yellow and medium in size. The sun is still young enough to last at least 5 billion years. Our sun is the center of our solar system with planets circling around it.
You can see other planets in the night sky. There are 8 planets orbiting the sun. They are bright, but they don’t twinkle like stars. The Earth is the only planet with animals and plants because it has oxygen and water. The earth looks blue from space because of the large oceans and water surrounding continents. Our sister planet, Venus, is almost the same size as earth. Mars is smaller than earth, but it has polar ice caps like the Earth. Mercury is closest to the sun and Venus is the hottest planet. Jupiter is a gaseous planet and has only a small amount of rock in the center. Pluto is the furthest from the sun and is considered a dwarf planet.
There are 5 dwarf planets that are in our solar system. Dwarf planets are smaller celestial, round bodies that are not considered moons. They orbit the sun like larger planets. The difference between dwarf planets and planets is their size.
The moon circles the earth. The moon orbits the earth in less than 27 days. There are 13 lunar cycles during the earth’s solar year. The moon changes each night depending on how much light it is reflecting from the sun. The moon reflects sunlight like a mirror.
The moon can affect our ocean tides and weather. The moon is one of the easiest nightly bodies to see. It is fun to observe the different phases of the moon. You can printout the moon cards and put them on a chart or calendar.
The night sky is full of stars. Young stars are called blue giants. They are so big that they don’t last very long. Older stars are called red dwarfs. They are the longest lasting stars. Our sun is a yellow dwarf that is still full of energy. Stars are born or formed in a nebulae. The opposite of a new star is a black hole. A black hole is created when an old large star collapses on itself.
People like to imagine what patterns of stars look like. These shapes that are made from stars are called constellations. The big dipper constellation is a sign post in the northern hemisphere and the crux or southern cross constellation is easy to find in the southern hemisphere.
Sometimes objects from space orbit near our Earth. They can be asteroids, meteors or comets. Asteroids are pieces of rock in space. Meteors are sometimes called shooting stars, even though they are not stars. They are small pieces of metal or rock traveling through space. Comets are dirty snowballs of ice and dirt. When comets move towards the sun you will be able to see a tail.
The most recent bodies in our solar system are man made. They include the space station, satellites and space craft.
Lessons, Vocabulary and Nomenclature Reading Printouts for the Solar System.