The Solar System
The sun at the middle of the solar system is really a star that is about 4.5 billion years old. That is really old! The sun is a giant ball of very hot gases that give light and heat to people on Earth. If there was no sun, you could not live on planet Earth. When gas shoots out from the sun, people who live near the north and south poles can see beautiful lights in the sky. Did you know that it is dangerous to look directly at the sun without sunglasses as it could damage your eyes? It is faaaaar too hot for me here. I think it’s time to visit the planets that move around this bright star.
Mercury, is 58 million km away from the sun and is the first planet in the solar system. This little planet is very bare and rocky and is covered in craters. It is very hot during the daytime and very cold in the night. Mercury is the planet that travels the fastest and it was named after the wing-footed messenger of the Gods. I wouldn’t like to live here because the side of the planet that faces the sun is tooooo hot and the side facing away from the sun is tooooo cold. Time I was off!
Venus is the second planet in the solar system. It is the hottest planet and it is full of volcanoes. It spins in a different direction from all the other planets and is covered with thick clouds of acid. It is often called the morning or evening star because it shines brightly in the sky. Venus was named after the Roman Goddess of Love. It is far too hot for me here. I’m off. Do you know what planet comes next?
Yes, that’s right – your own planet Earth.
Earth is the third planet in the solar system and I think it is the only planet that has life on it. It has lots of water and oxygen which helps people to stay alive. I am sure you know that Earth spins on an axis, giving you days, nights and seasons. A force called gravity helps you to walk on the planet without falling off into space. Wouldn’t it be funny to see lots of people floating around in space? You would have to tie yourself to Earth so that you could climb back on! Did you know that three quarters of Earth is covered in water? Time is short and I must go but I will return to discover more about this beautiful planet when I have completed my mission.
Mars is the fourth planet of the solar system. It has days and seasons like on Earth but on Mars they are longer. At one time, people thought there might be little green men on Mars but scientific expeditions have proved there is no life there. That’s really funny. I’m a little green man so maybe they were thinking about me. Millions of years ago, there was water on Mars but now it only has two ice caps and four huge volcanoes on its surface. Mars was named after the Roman God of War because of its red colour. I like this red planet but time is moving quickly, so let’s zoom off to see what we can find.
Jupiter is the fifth planet away from the sun. It is the biggest planet in the solar system and is full of gas. Jupiter’s famous red spot is really a cyclone that is bigger than Earth. This cyclone is made because Jupiter is the fastest spinning planet. Jupiter was named after the Roman King of the Gods. What a big planet this. I feel so small. I would like to find out more about Jupiter’s four big moons but I must move on.
Saturn is the sixth planet of the solar system. It is made from gas, just like Jupiter but it is very light in weight. I think I could push it with my space-mobile. Saturn is famous for the seven rings that can be seen around it. The centre of the planet is very hot but the temperature above its clouds is very cold. Saturn was named after the Roman God of Time. I wish I could stay here looking at the beautiful rings circling Saturn but it is time to move on and discover another planet.
Uranus is the seventh planet of the solar system. It was the first planet to be discovered by a telescope. This blue/green planet is also one of the gas planets surrounded by rings. Because of the way that it moves, its poles have 42 years of daylight and 42 years of darkness. Imagine living there. It has 27 moons, many of which are named after characters from William Shakespeare’s plays such as Titania, Oberon and Miranda. Uranus was named after the Father of Saturn and takes 84 Earth years to orbit the sun. I don’t want to stay that long. Do you? Come on! Let’s go!
Neptune is the last of the gas planets and it is the eighth planet of the solar system. It is about four times the size of Earth and has the strongest winds of all the planets. It takes 165 Earth years to orbit the sun. Most of the information about Uranus and Neptune was discovered when a spacecraft called voyager 2, passed near to them and sent back messages to scientists on Earth. Neptune was named after the Roman God of the Sea. Let’s go before we are blown away.
Pluto was once considered to be the ninth planet of the solar system but in 2006 it was decided that it should be called a dwarf planet. It is so far away from the sun that it was only discovered in 1930 and it is very difficult to see even through a telescope. Pluto is made of freezing cold ice and rock and has temperatures of up to -235 degrees Celsius. It has five moons and takes 248 Earth years to go round the sun in an egg-shaped orbit. Pluto is named after the Roman God of the Underworld. This planet is definitely faaaaar too cold for me. Now I am heading back to the most interesting planet in the solar system – Earth.
International Space Station
As I leave Pluto behind and journey back to Planet Earth I will stop off at the International Space-station and chat to the astronauts who live there.
Did you know that the space station travels at 17500 mph and orbits Earth 15.5 times every day. The astronauts who visit the space station come from 17 different countries and they spend most of their day cleaning and repairing the space station as well as conducting experiments and speaking to scientists on the ground. They also have to practice walking in space. Every astronaut must exercise for at least two hours and eat three main meals a day to keep them fit and healthy.
I wonder if they ever feel lonely living all those miles high above Earth? I must ask them.
I fly past many stars on my travels and only see them as single flashing lights but when people on Earth look at the night sky, they can see patterns amongst the stars. These patterns are called constellations and have been given names.
The constellation known as Orion is easily recognised and the three stars in the centre of it are known as Orion’s belt.
Draco looks like a snake slithering its way across the sky.
What an amazing place Space is but I can’t wait to visit Earth again and meet the people living there. If you ever see me come over and say “Hello”.
This is pod IGT signing off for today.
Pod IGT’s Challenge
Find out about other constellations that can found in the night sky.