Ever since the first humans looked up at the sky, we’ve been curious about what’s out there.
Whether it’s a planet made of diamonds or a supermassive black hole with a gravitational pull so strong that not even light can escape its grasp, there’s always something new to discover in our own solar system.
And when you think about it, our solar system is pretty amazing. It contains everything from Earth—the only place we know of that can support life as we know it—to all sorts of other planets and moons, asteroids, and comets.
But there are some facts about our solar system that might surprise even the most seasoned stargazers. Here are 7 of them:
A light-year is a distance that light travels in one year at a speed of 186,000 miles (300,000 kilometers) per second, which equates to 5.88 trillion miles (9.46 trillion kilometers) per year.
If you were traveling at light speed (which is 186,000 miles per second), it would take 1.87 light years to get to the outer edge of our solar system – the Oort Cloud. So we can conclude that it would take about 3.74 light years to make a complete trip around our solar system.
The Sun is a massive ball of hot gas. Light from the Sun takes about 8 minutes to reach Earth due to its distance of approximately 93 million miles (150 million kilometers).
The eight planets of our solar system are divided into two groups: the inner planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars) and the outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune). The inner planets are made of rocks and metals, whereas the outer planets are made of gas and ice.
4. A solar system object orbits the Sun backward.
Most other solar system bodies orbit counter clockwise around the Sun when viewed from the Sun’s north pole. Drac is an exception: it’s orbiting clockwise.
The astronomers who discovered it named the object “Drac.” It unusually orbits the solar system. It is orbiting at a 104-degree tilt, which means it is moving backward. The team that discovered it named it Drac, after the legend that Dracula could walk up walls.
Researchers were initially perplexed as to how Drac got into such an unusual orbit. Nevertheless, in recent years, some light has been shed on the question by backward-traveling trans-Neptunian objects.
5. Proxima Centauri is the closest star to Earth.
The nearest star to Earth is Proxima Centauri which lies just over 4 light-years (25 trillion miles) away.
The closest star to our sun is the Alpha Centauri system, which consists of three stars: Alpha Centauri A and B and Proxima Centauri. Alpha Centauri A and B are both similar in size and brightness to our sun, while Proxima Centauri is smaller and dimmer than our sun.
The brightest star in the night sky is Sirius (-1.46 magnitude) in the constellation of Canis Major, which is located 8.6 light years away from us.
6. Not all planets become hotter closer to the sun.
As it normally goes, a planet is known to be hotter closer to the sun. Mercury, which orbits at only 0.39 AU (astronomical units), has an average temperature of 427 degrees Celsius (800 degrees Fahrenheit).
On the other hand, Neptune is much further away from the Sun than Mercury, so its surface temperature is -200 degrees Celsius (-328 degrees Fahrenheit).
Venus, surprisingly, is hotter than Mercury even though it is farther away. This is due to its thick carbon dioxide atmosphere that results in a greenhouse effect. Mercury’s atmosphere is thin and thus cannot easily trap the sun’s heat.
Tip When Teaching Students About the Solar System
The solar system is a vast and fascinating place. It contains many different types of planets, moons, asteroids, comets, and other objects. Learning about the solar system can be fun and interesting for children.
If you want to teach your students about the solar system in your classroom, you can use videos. These videos will help you teach kids about the different parts of the solar system and how they work together to keep our planet healthy.
There are many different types of videos online that can assist you in educating kids about the solar system. Some people create animated videos, while others show real footage of space exploration missions. These videos can help students understand how each planet works on its own and how they interact with each other when they’re not in their orbits around the sun.
There are even videos available that explain how planets formed billions of years ago when dust particles collided in outer space. Therefore, make sure to use this method to teach children about the solar system.
Written by Hannah Angni
Featured Image by brgfx on Freepik