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Mercury is the closest planet to

the Sun. It orbits in a highly


elliptical orbit ranging from 46
million km (29 million miles) from
the Sun out to 70 million km (43.5
million miles).
It takes about 88 Earth days to
orbit the Sun but rotates on its axis
once every 59 Earth days. Because
of the slow rotation, a single day on
Mercury (mid day to mid day) takes
176 Earth days. Its axial tilt is Discovery:Knowntotheancients
remarkably small at 3/100ths of a andvisibletothenakedeye
degree. Much smaller than any Named for:MessengeroftheRoman
other planet. gods
Diameter:3,031miles(4,878km)
Orbit:88Earthdays
Day:58.6Earthdays
Venus
Thesecondplanetfromthesun,
Venusisterriblyhot,evenhotter
thanMercury.Theatmosphereis
toxic.Thepressureatthesurface
wouldcrushandkillyou.Scientists
describeVenussituationasa
runawaygreenhouseeffect.Itssize
andstructurearesimilartoEarth,
Discovery:Knowntothe
Venus'thick,toxicatmospheretraps ancientsandvisibletothe
heatinarunaway"greenhouse nakedeye
effect."Oddly,Venusspinsslowlyin Named for:Romangoddess
theoppositedirectionofmost ofloveandbeauty
planets. Diameter:7,521miles
(12,104km)
Orbit:225Earthdays
Day:241Earthdays
The third closest planet
to the Sun is Earth and
is the largest and
densest of the inner
planets. Earth orbits in a
reasonably circular at
150 million km and is the
first of the planets to
have a moon. Earth is of
course the only place Diameter:7,926miles
that we know of that has (12,760km)
life. Orbit:365.24days
Day:23hours,56
minutes
MARS
The fourth planet from the sun, is a
cold, dusty place. The dust, an iron
oxide, gives the planet its reddish
cast. Mars shares similarities with
Earth: It is rocky, has mountains
and valleys, and storm systems
ranging from localized tornado-like
dust devils to planet-engulfing dust Discovery:Knowntothe
storms. It snows on Mars. And Mars ancientsandvisibletothe
harbors water ice. Scientists think nakedeye
it was once wet and warm, though Named for:Romangodofwar
today its cold and desert-like. Diameter:4,217miles(6,787
km)
Orbit:687Earthdays
Day:JustmorethanoneEarth
day(24hours,37minutes)
Phobos(left)Deimos(right)
Discovery:Knowntothe
ancientsandvisibletothe
nakedeye
Named for:RuleroftheRoman
gods
Diameter:86,881miles
(139,822km)
Orbit:11.9Earthyears
Day:9.8Earthhours

JUPITER
The fifth planet from the sun, Jupiter is huge and is the
most massive planet in our solar system. Its a mostly
gaseous world, mostly hydrogen and helium. Its swirling
clouds are colorful due to different types of trace gases. A
big feature is the Great Red Spot, a giant storm which has
raged for hundreds of years. Jupiter has a strong magnetic
field, and with dozens of moons, it looks a bit like a
miniature solar system.
Discovery:Knowntotheancients
andvisibletothenakedeye
Named for:Romangodof
agriculture
Diameter:74,900miles(120,500
km)
Orbit:29.5Earthyears
Day:About10.5Earthhours

SATURN
The sixth planet from the sun is known most
for its rings. The rings are made of ice and
rock. Scientists are not yet sure how they
formed. The gaseous planet is mostly
hydrogen and helium. It has numerous
moons.
Discovery:1781byWilliamHerschel
(wasthoughtpreviouslytobeastar)
Named for:Personificationof
heaveninancientmyth
Diameter:31,763miles(51,120km)
Orbit:84Earthyears
Day:18Earthhours

URANUS
The seventh planet from the sun, Uranus is an oddball. Its the only
giant planet whose equator is nearly at right angles to its orbit it
basically orbits on its side. Astronomers think the planet collided with
some other planet-size object long ago, causing the tilt. The tilt causes
extreme seasons that last 20-plus years, and the sun beats down on
one pole or the other for 84 Earth-years. Uranus is about the same size
as Neptune. Methane in the atmosphere gives Uranus its blue-green
tint. It hasnumerous moonsand faint rings.
NEPTUNE
The eighth planet from
the sun, Neptune is
known for strong winds
sometimes faster than
the speed of sound.
Neptune is far out and
cold. The planet is more
than 30 times as far from
the sun as Earth. It has a Discovery:1846
rocky core. Neptune was Named for:Romangodof
the first planet to be water
predicted to exist by Diameter:30,775miles(49,530
using math, before it was km)
detected. Orbit:165Earthyears
Day:19Earthhours