Venus’s mean radius is 6,051.8 km (3,760.4 miles), or about 95 percent of Earth’s at the Equator, while its mass is 4.87 × 1024 kg, or 81.5 percent that of Earth. Haumea lives in the Kuiper belt and is about the same size as Pluto. It spins very fast, which distorts its shape, making it look like a football. Neptune is now the most distant planet and is a cold and dark world nearly 3 billion miles from the Sun. For planets sake, we need to end all wars by the quickest means.

Earth is the planet we live on, the third of eight planets in our solar system and the only known place in the universe to support life. The solar system even contains objects from interstellar space that are just passing through. ‘Oumuamua had an unusual cigarlike or pancakelike shape and was possibly composed of nitrogen ice. Comet Borisov was much like the comets of the solar system but with a much higher abundance of carbon monoxide. Scientists have multiple theories that explain how the solar system formed.

What is (and isn’t) a planet?

Plants and other autotrophs depend on carbon dioxide to create nutrients in a process called photosynthesis. Animals and other organisms that consume autotrophs obtain carbon. Fossil fuels, the remains of ancient plants and animals, contain very high amounts of carbon. The crust and the upper portion of the mantle form the lithosphere.

They are typically categorized based on their physical characteristics, compositions, and other defining features. Within our solar system, we have terrestrial planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars), gas giants (Jupiter and Saturn), and so-called ice giants (Uranus and Neptune). Beyond these categories, we also have dwarf planets like Pluto.

This is supposedly a giant planet with a very elongated orbit. And because of that, it takes thousands of years to orbit the Sun. It is an ice giant and is mostly composed of water, methane, and ammonia. Though it is a bit smaller than Uranus, it is much denser. It also has the strongest winds in the entire solar system. The astronomer William Herschel discovered it in 1781 through a telescope.

  • Mercury, the innermost planet of the solar system and the eighth in size and mass.
  • Its diameter is about 12,700 kilometers (7,900 miles), and its mass is about 5.97×1024 kilograms (6.58×1021 tons).
  • Evaporation is the process of a liquid turning into a gas, or vapor.
  • Our planet, Earth, is an oasis not only in space, but in time.
  • Our nearest planetary neighbor, the second planet from the Sun, has a surface hot enough to melt lead.

Today, ocean waters continue to cover nearly three-quarters of our planet. Thanks to their incredible diversity, from smoldering rocky worlds to gargantuan gas giants, the solar system’s planets are still some of the most compelling subjects of study in the entire cosmos. And in recent decades, the roster of fascinating and bizarre planets beyond our solar system has exploded. Venus is a volcanic planet with lots of craters on the surface.

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The atmosphere is responsible for temperature and other weather patterns on Earth. It blocks most of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation (UV), conducts solar radiation and precipitation through constantly moving air masses, and keeps our planet’s average surface temperature to about 15° Celsius (59° Fahrenheit). It consists of a solid center surrounded by an outer layer of liquid. The core is found about 2,900 kilometers (1,802 miles) below Earth’s surface, and has a radius of about 3,485 kilometers (2,165 miles).


Pluto had been officially listed among the planets since it was discovered in 1930 orbiting beyond Neptune, but in 1992 an icy object was discovered still farther from the Sun than Pluto. Many other such discoveries followed, including an object named Eris that appears to be at least as large as Pluto. It became apparent that Pluto was simply one of the larger members of this new group of objects, collectively known as the Kuiper belt. For a discussion of that action and of the definition of planet approved by the IAU, see planet. The rotation of Venus on its axis is unusual in both its direction and its speed. The Sun and most of the planets in the solar system rotate in a counterclockwise direction when viewed from above their north poles; this direction is called direct, or prograde.

How large is the universe? This Week in Astronomy with Dave Eicher

This means it is spherical in shape, but not perfectly round. It has a slightly greater radius at the Equator, the imaginary line running horizontally around the middle of the planet. In addition to bulging in the middle, Earth’s poles are slightly flattened. The geoid describes the model shape of Earth, and is used to calculate precise surface locations.

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Since they are just exposed in the open, the iron reacts with oxygen which results in a red rust color. These swirls of rusty dust are swept up by large storms into the atmosphere making its sky reddish. Read our post here if you want to learn more about why Mars is red.

Don’t spend too much time considering a mission to visit the spot where the universe was born, though, as a person cannot visit the place where the Big Bang happened. It’s not that the universe was a dark, empty space and an explosion happened in it from which all matter sprang forth. Space itself expanded from a single point to the enormous cosmos as the universe expanded over time.

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Interesting Planet Facts about the Eight Planets


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