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Major features of the Solar System;sizes and distances not to scale. Fromleft to right): Pluto, Neptune, Uranus,Saturn, Jupiter, the asteroid belt, theSun, Mercury, Venus, Earth and its Moon, and Mars. A comet is also seenon the left.
consists of the Sun and the othercelestial objects gravitationally bound toit: the eight planets, their 166 knownmoons,
three dwarf planets (Ceres,Pluto, and Eris and their four knownmoons), and billions of small bodies. Thislast category includes asteroids, Kuiperbelt objects, comets, meteoroids, andinterplanetary dust.In broad terms, the charted regions of the Solar System consist of the Sun, fourterrestrial
, an asteroidbelt composed of small rocky bodies, fourgas giant
, and a secondbelt, called the Kuiper belt, composed of icy objects. Beyond the Kuiper beltis the scattered disc, the heliopause, and ultimately the hypothetical Oortcloud.In order of their distances from the Sun, the planets are Mercury, Venus,Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Six of the eight planetsare in turn orbited by natural satellites, usually termed "moons" afterEarth's Moon, and each of the outer planets is encircled by planetary ringsof dust and other particles. All the planets except Earth are named aftergods and goddesses from Greco-Roman mythology. The three dwarf planetsare Pluto, the largest known Kuiper belt object; Ceres, the largest object inthe asteroid belt; and Eris, which lies in the scattered disc.
See also: Definition of planet
Planets and dwarf planets of the Solar System; while the sizes are to scale,the relative distances from the Sunare not.
Objects orbiting the Sun are divided intothree classes: planets, dwarf planets, andsmall Solar System bodies. A planet is any body in orbit around theSun that a) has enough mass to formitself into a spherical shape and b) hascleared its immediate neighbourhood of all smaller objects. There are eightknown planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth,Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, andNeptune.