The solar system

Life in the Solar System
Our solar system contains planets, comets and asteroids all of which travel around our star, the Sun.
Between 1801 and 1807 small starlike objects were discovered in the solar system. These small bodies became known as Minor Planets or...
Different theories account for the formation of the solar system.
The Sun
The diameter of the Sun is 1,400,000 km (840,000 miles) which is more than 100 times the diameter of the Earth.
Sunspots are a phenomenon that has been known about for at least several thousands of years.
Thumbnail of the partial solar eclipse - 3 October 2005
An eclipse occurs when a body cuts off the light from a light source so that we can no longer see it shining.
The Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis are seen in the northern and southern hemispheres respectively.
The Moon is the closest astronomical object to the Earth.
The Moon photographed by the crew of Apollo 17 in December 1972 (NASA)
Four times smaller in diameter than the Earth, our Moon was probably formed shortly after the rest of our solar system, about 4500 million...
Full Moon by Jathin Premjith (Kingdom of Bahrain), aged 13
The phrase 'once in a blue Moon' is a familiar one meaning once in a very long interval of time. The phrase goes back to at least 1824 when...
Montage of the solar system
The main difference between planets and stars is that stars shine with their own light, and planets shine by reflected light.
Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun. With a diameter of 4880 km, it is the second smallest.
Venus is the second closest planet to the Sun. It has no moon. With a diameter of 12,104 kilometres it is the closest in size to the Earth.
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and there has been much speculation over the years about the possibility of other life forms...
Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system. Its diameter is 11 times that of the Earth, its mass twice the sum of all the other...
Saturn is probably the best known and most beautiful planet in the solar system.
Uranus is the seventh planet of the Solar System, with a diameter of about 52,400 km. It orbits the Sun every 84 years.
Neptune is the eighth planet from the Sun, orbiting the Sun every 165 years at a mean distance of 30.1 times that of the Earth (...
A true colour image of Pluto
Pluto has been recategorised as a 'dwarf planet' and is no longer recognised as a full planet.
The solar system information gives tables of data relating to the orbits of planets, the globes of planets, and the satellite distances...
The furthest object was probably a comet which passed the Sun many years ago, returning to the furthest limits of the solar system.
An illustration of the orbit of the asteroid Hermes
Until Isaac Newton formulated his Laws of Motion it was generally thought that to keep a body in motion it was necessary to use a force to...
Tides are created by the gravitational attraction of one massive body on another.
The surface temperatures of the planets vary from more than 400 degrees on Mercury and Venus to below -200 degrees on the distant planets.
A year after its discovery, the newly designated ‘dwarf planet’ 2003 UB313 was named Eris.
2001 KX76, a newly discovered planetary body
An icy planetary body has been discovered orbiting the Sun beyond Neptune.