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*Note that in the image above the sizes are to scale, but the relative distances are


The solar system includes the Sun and all the objects that orbit around it due to its
as planets, comets, asteroids, meteoroids and moons.

The Solar System formed around 4.6 billion years ago.

There are eight planets in the Solar

are Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars while
are Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

System. The

four inner


The inner planets (also known as terrestrial planets) are smaller and made mostly of
rock and metal.

The outer planets (also known as gas giants) are much larger and made mostly of
hydrogen, helium and other gases.

As of 2008, there are also five dwarf planets: Pluto, Ceres, Eris, Makemake &

There is an asteroid belt which lies between the orbits or Mars and Jupiter, it
features a large number of irregular shaped asteroids.

For thousands of years humans were unaware of the Solar System and believed that
Earth was at the center of the Universe.

Astronomers such as Nicolas Copernicus, Galileo Galilee, Johannes Kepler and Isaac
Newton helped develop a new model that explained the movement of the planets
with the Sun at the center of the Solar System.

The Sun contains 99.86 percent of the Solar System's known mass, with Jupiter and
Saturn making up making up most of the rest. The small inner planets which include
Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars make up a very small percentage of the Solar
Systems mass.

In 2006 the International Astronomical Union adopted the term dwarf planet
for solar system objects that were bigger than small solar system bodies such
as comets and asteroids but not quite planets.
The definition of a dwarf planet is an object orbiting the Sun that is large enough
to be rounded by its own gravity but is not gravitationally dominant in its orbital
area and is not a moon.
As of 2008, there are five recognized dwarf planets: Pluto, Ceres, Eris, Makemake
& Haumea.
There are a number of other candidates for the status of dwarf planet. Some of
these classifications could be resolved as NASAs Dawn and Horizon missions
venture towards Pluto in the coming years.

Pluto hit the headlines in 2006 when it was demoted from a planet to a dwarf planet
by the International Astronomical Union. While most astronomers agreed with the
new classifications, some disagreed and still refer to Pluto as the ninth planet.

Ceres is located in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. It was
discovered in 1801, well before Pluto and 45 years before Neptune. Ceres was
considered a planet for around 50 years before being reclassified as an asteroid and
once again in 2006 as a dwarf planet.
Eris was discovered in 2005 and was referred to as the tenth planet until it was
reclassified in 2006. It is the largest of the dwarf planets.
Makemake was discovered in 2005 and the third largest dwarf planet behind Eris
and Pluto.
Haumea was discovered in 2004 and named a dwarf planet in 2008.

Planet Facts
Planets have fascinated scientists and humans in general for years, after all we do
live on one ourselves. By learning more about these amazing objects that orbit the
same sun as Earth, we can learn more about our own planet.
The beauty of the planets found in our solar system is that they are so varied, with
each one offering a new insight into everything from chemistry to physics,
geography and how our solar system was formed all those years ago.

It's a tough life living next to the sun but someone's got to do it. Find out why
Mercury has more in common with the Moon than our own Earth.
Similar in size to Earth but just a little hotter, ok make that a lot hotter! Venus is like
an oven on a high temperature thanks to its thick clouds which keep the heat in.

The 'Red Planet' hasn't quite been conquered by humans yet but it's had a few
interesting visitors in recent years. Find out more about this and the potential for
liquid water on this rocky planet.
It's big, its angry and its home to some of the most extreme conditions in our solar
system. Welcome to Jupiter, where storms rage and intense gravity rules.
This gas giant is famous for its beautiful rings as well as being the second biggest
planet in our solar system. Learn about the ice crystals that make up the rings and
much more
Keen to stand out from the crowd, Uranus rolls like a barrel rather than spinning like
Earth. Learn more about this and its long orbit around the sun.
Fierce storms rage on this planet at the edge of our solar system. Read about this
and other things that make Neptune such an interesting planet.

It's tough being the little guy and no one knows this
better than Pluto who isn't even considered a planet
anymore. Still, there's a lot to learn about an object
that orbits so far from the sun.