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101 Fun Facts (and more) About the Planets: A Set of Eight 15 Minute Books, Educational Version

101 Fun Facts (and more) About the Planets: A Set of Eight 15 Minute Books, Educational Version

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101 Fun Facts (and more) About the Planets: A Set of Eight 15 Minute Books, Educational Version

195 pages
1 hour
Jan 27, 2014


Was Mercury bigger in the past?
How did Venus change the way people saw the world?
What is happening to Mount Everest, the highest place on Earth?
Does Mars have seasons?
Is there a surface to the planet Jupiter?
Who discovered Saturn’s rings?
What is strange about the way Uranus spins?
What is the coldest place in our solar system? (Hint: It isn’t the planet,)

Learn the answer to these questions and many more fun facts in this group of eight 15-Minute Books. The planets of our solar system have many strange and wonderful things about them. Surprise your friends, and even your parents with these fun facts.

This compilation includes the following 15-minute books:
14 Fun Facts About Mercury
14 Fun Facts About Venus
14 Fun Facts About Earth
14 Fun Facts About Mars
14 Fun Facts About Jupiter
14 Fun Facts About Saturn
14 Fun Facts About Uranus
14 Fun Facts About Neptune

Ages 9 and up
Educational Versions Include exercises designed to meet Common Core Standards. believes in the value of children practicing reading for 15 minutes every day. Our 15-Minute Books give children lots of fun, exciting choices to read, from classic stories, to mysteries, to books of knowledge. Open the world of reading to a child by having them read for 15 minutes a day.

Jan 27, 2014

About the author

Jeannie Meekins is an Australian writer who lives with her children and a couple of cats who think they own the computer. And if her dog could read, he’d be jealous, so it’s lucky that he can’t. Jeannie has also written over 10 books for children, many available through

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101 Fun Facts (and more) About the Planets - Jeannie Meekins

The planet Mercury. (NASA)

In the Milky Way Galaxy, there is a yellow sun that has eight planets.

The closest planet to the sun is Mercury – a tiny, hot, lifeless ball of rock that races around the sun in less than three months. What could possibly fascinate us about that?

Read on and find out.

Size comparison of Mercury, Venus and Earth. (NASA)

Fact 1: Mercury is the smallest planet in our solar system.

Mercury is the closest planet to our sun. It has an average distance of only 36 million miles (58 million km) from the sun.

Mercury has a slightly elliptical orbit. Its orbit is like a circle that has been stretched.

With the exception of Pluto, which is no longer considered a planet, Mercury is the smallest planet in our solar system. Mercury has a diameter of 3,031 miles (4,878 km) and is not much bigger than our moon, which has a diameter of about 2,165 miles (3,485 km).

The planets in our Solar System. (NASA/JPL)

Fact 2: Mercury was known to ancient peoples.

Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn were known to ancient peoples. These planets could be seen with the naked eye, without the aid of any special instruments.

They have been visible since we first looked into the night sky. Their paths were plotted through the skies and they were known to affect everything that happened in one’s life.

If you see a planet with the naked eye, it may look like any other star. It may be bigger, it may be brighter, it may be a different color, or it may look like any other star. The main difference is that it will move across the sky.

You won’t see it move. Planets are not like shooting stars. They don’t flash across the sky. Instead, they move slowly. You would need to watch over several nights – or even several months – to make sure it does move, and you would need to compare its location to the other stars around it.

If the other stars seem to stand still and your star seems to move, it’s a good chance that your star is a planet.

Photo mosaic of Mercury. (NASA)

Fact 3: Mercury is hard to see.

Mercury is much harder to see today than it was for ancient peoples.

The best times to see Mercury are about 30 minutes before sunrise or 30 minutes after sunset. The best time also depends on where Mercury is in its orbit of the sun. The planet will be low on the horizon and will either be following the sun or have the sun following it.

Because Mercury is so close to the sun, the sun’s light makes the sky too bright to see the tiny planet. It is only before sunrise or after sunset that the sky becomes dark enough.

There are many other things that stop us from seeing Mercury. If you live in an area that has city lights or even streetlights, the glare can often block out the tiny planet. If you have hills or trees, by the time the sun has gone down, the planet can be blocked out by such objects. Even the moon can brighten the sky enough to stop us from seeing Mercury.

Thousands of years ago, there were no street lights or bright electric lights in the houses. Because of this, when the sun went down, the sky was black.

Today, if you want to go Mercury watching, you would need to be on a hill or a flat desert. You would also need to be free of any lights from the land below. Then, maybe, at the right time you will see a tiny star low on the horizon, and that star might very well be Mercury.

A drawing of Urbain Le Verrier.

Fact 4: It was once believed that there was a planet between Mercury and the Sun.

Urbain Jean Joseph Le Verrier was a French astronomer and mathematician. He was one of the astronomers who predicted the existence of a planet beyond Uranus.

He believed that another object was affecting Uranus’ orbit. Something appeared to be pulling on it. Telescopes were pointed beyond Uranus and Neptune was discovered.

Using the same theory of affected orbits, he also predicted the possible existence of a body between Mercury and the sun. Something appeared to be affecting Mercury’s orbit.

This object was supposedly seen several times, shortly after its prediction. It was even given a name – Vulcan. But it has never been sighted again. Nor has any other object been seen between Mercury and the sun.

In 1915, Albert Einstein described his theory of general relativity. This explained the slight variations in Mercury’s orbit. Scientists no longer believe there is any planet between Mercury and the sun.

The interior of Mercury. (NASA)

Fact 5: Mercury has a magnetic field.

Mercury is not much bigger than our moon, and it looks a lot like our moon. Because of this, scientists didn’t really expect it to be much different from our moon.

It was thought to be just a lump of rock in orbit around the sun. But Mercury is no lump of rock. Mercury has a magnetic field.

A magnetic field is created by any metal that spins. Mercury spins slowly, but it does spin.

All planets that have a magnetic field have an iron core – including Earth. Therefore Mercury must also have a core of iron.

The magnetic field is relatively weak, indicating that the core is probably liquid. The iron core of Mercury is about three quarters the size of the planet.


Fact 6: Mercury may once have been bigger than it is.


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