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Basics of Our Solar System

How much do you know about our solar system, the galaxy it's found in, and the universe beyond? Get the quick facts on the solar system right here!

Our Solar System - What's In It?

If the Milky Way galaxy were shrunk down to the size of North America, our solar system would fit inside a coffee cup. Our solar system is made up of a star that we call the Sun , along with eight or nine planets (more on that later): Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and the most controversial: Pluto. The solar system also includes the satellites of these planets, numerous comets, asteroids, and meteoroids.

Our Solar SystemOur Solar System

Our Solar System - How Many Planets?

It has long been taught that our solar system contains nine planets, but that number was cast into doubt in 2006 when the International Astronomical Union voted to reclassify Pluto as a dwaft planet. The reason for it's demotion has to do with Pluto not being "gravitationally dominant" in its orbital zone. What does that mean? For an object to be gravitationally dominant it must exert a gravitational pull on the objects surrounding it. For example, the earth has a stronger pull on the Moon than the Moon has on the earth. That means the earth is gravitationally dominant. There are two other dwarf planets in our solar system besides newly demoted Pluto: Ceres and Eris.

Planet NamesPlanet Names

Our Solar System - How Big is It?

In order to get a good visual of the relative sizes of our solar system, imagine a model that has been reduced by a factor of one billion. That means the Earth is now the size of an olive. The Moon is a pepper corn orbiting about a foot away. The Sun is now the height of a man and about a city block from Earth. Jupiter has just become the size of a large grapefruit and is five blocks away from the Sun. Saturn, the size of an apple, is ten blocks away, Uranus and Neptune, both lemons, are twenty and thirty blocks away. A human on this scale is the size of an atom and the nearest star is more than 24,850 miles (40,000 km) away.

Our Solar System - How Was It Created?

The question of how our solar system - and also our universe - were created is a seriously contentious issue! There is a chance that we might never know entirely, but there some well-researched theories as to how it was created. The most famous and believed by astronomers is the Big Bang theory. The theory goes that about 14 billion years ago, the entire universe was thousands of times smaller than a pinhead. It was incredably hot and dense. At some point the micor-universe exploded, the blast made all this debris in the universe. The planets, moons and asteroids today are the survivors from that explosion and our Sun is the central star and the universe is still expanding to this day.

  • Drop us a line if you know something cool about our solar system. It is a great subject for a science project at school.
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What's Your Favorite Heavenly Body?

  • Earth.
  • Mercury.
  • Jessica Alba.
  • Saturn.

General In The Forums

ThePaleWalker636
(Requested by @snoopynwoodstock123 ) (Sorry this one's shorter than usual. I wanted it to be to the point, but it was fun to write. Enjoy!) Shin and Oka were bent over an array of smoking potions, dark vials, and musty powders, arranging them in the intricate patterns of ritual. Silent except for panicked, labored breathing, Oka grabbed a vial of a sickeningly sweet, dark red liquid and began tracing the lines of charcoal pencil already drawn onto the stone floor. Oka closed her eyes for a second, holding her breath. “Shin, hand me the book.”  He did so with trembling hands, and Oka turned to the proper page of the dusty book. The pages almost crumbled in her hands because of age and wear. The exotic and disgusting ingredients, the pentagram drawn upon the floor, and the pages and pages of Latin text proved that this was not your every-day ritual, but instead the last ditch effort of defeated prey to escape from a hunter that prowled throughout the hallways, prodded on by insane lust. For the past six hours, a first year student had been rampaging throughout the school, slaughtering all in her path, and, after being contacted by the police, she took hostages of all surviving the initial attack. Oka and Shin had just managed to escape and begin to prepare an attack of the supernatural kind. Oka took a deep breath and began reading the accursed text. Shin held his breath as the words on the water-damaged page began to glow a faint red, glowing brighter and brighter and pulsating like a heartbeat as the seconds ticked by, each feeling like an eternity. Suddenly, they heard a sound that sent chills like spiders of ice racing down their backs: a giggle, a laugh from just beyond the door and footsteps prowling the surrounding halls. There was a monster lurking outside with an intent to kill. Oka’s voice lowered to a barest whisper, but she could not stop the chant, or they would have to begin the process over again, and that would take time they didn’t have. The footsteps grew closer, each foot fall sounding like a sledgehammer in the silence of the corpse-ridden school, echoing in the ears of the two hidden students. Shin began to tremble, and Oka wanted comfort him so badly, but she could not put down the candle of dripping black wax in her hand or murmur any words except for the ancient Latin text. Then, with a glint in his eye of fierce determination, Shin stood up, and Oka’s eyes followed him curiously while her mouth continued to usher forth the chant. What was he-? “Oka,” he whispered. “She- no, it is going to find us before the ritual is complete.” Oka’s eyes suddenly widened in panic as she began to predict in her mind what he would say next. Shin continued, “I won’t be of much help in the fight, but I can be a distraction.” Shin held up is hands to try and calm Oka as she began to shake her head furiously, but unable to say any words to stop him. “It’ll buy enough time for you to achieve power enough to stop her. Goodbye, my friend.” Shin bent down and gently kissed Oka on the forehead. Oka screamed internally, begging him not to go, but he could not hear her thoughts. With the fate of a martyr before him, Shin reached up to the door that was framed by streams of light, and at the last second, he turned back to Oka and smiled sadly. He blinked, and a single tear rolled down his face. Then his head turned back to his fate. He reached up, and pushed the door open. The last seconds he was in view felt like slow motion as Shin stepped away from the dark room into the harsh, unyielding light that enveloped him like a gateway to wherever Shin was going after death. Then, the door swung shut. Oka could only watch the doors close and hear the echoing screams of laughter and the disgusting sounds of a knife penetrating human flesh. Screams were swiftly silenced but ended with bubbling croaks. Oh, Shin, she thought in agony to herself as tears streamed down her face. Shin, why did you have to do that? Curse this ritual that prevented me from saving him, from stopping him! It’s all my fault, oh, Shin!! A final, gasping gurgle issued from the space outside, signaling Shin’s death.  Oka said the ending words of the ritual with gasping, sobbing breaths. A dark mist began to swirl, like living shadows, and Oka could feel the rush of strength and passion that was poured into her form as arms, pale as ghosts with fingernails red as blood, erupted from the ground like hellish flowers in a circle around the now-floating Oka. They responded to her thought and will, twitching with anticipation of vengeance. Oka could feel the strength and speed coursing through these new extensions to her form. With a mere flick of her finger, the arms reached up and tore the door separating Oka from her enemy effortlessly, leaving the doorway dusty and open. Yandere-chan, the monster, a psychopath for love, stepped through the door way, covered with the blood of one of Oka’s only friends. She looked at Oka while stroking her dripping blade with the look of someone exhilarated by the thought of a true fight at last, and Oka screamed with tormented laughter somehow more nightmarish than Yandere-chan’s own. This was going to be a hell of a fight.  
reply 7 minutes
endlesssky
June 9th
reply 13 minutes
-Gwen9--
-Gwen9-- posted in Random:
Cat
reply about 3 hours
jordand08
jordand08 posted in Say Anything:
This is great, Kris!Loved it. 
reply about 3 hours
CobaltBlue
CobaltBlue posted in Random:
Kawaii
reply about 5 hours