Student Research Pages - Planets (Inner Planets)

Cover-Stars
Solar System

Image created by NASA.

Of the 8 planets in our solar system, you have a good chance of seeing 4 without a telescope: Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Venus shines especially brightly (except in October).

We group the planets of our solar system into "inner" and "outer" planets. What's the difference?

Inner planets: the four closet to the sun.
They are also called the "terrestrial planets" because they are made mostly of rock and metal.

Outer planets: the four farthest from the sun.
They are also called the "gas giants" because they are made mostly of gases.

Mercury

Mercury
(Used by permission of The University of Texas McDonald Observatory.)

Inner Planets

Mercury
  • One day on Mercury lasts almost 59 Earth days!
  • Of all the planets, Mercury orbits closest to the sun.
  • Late evening skies in March make the best time for spotting Mercury.
Venus

Venus
(Used by permission of The University of Texas McDonald Observatory.)

Venus
  • Venus spins backwards!
  • Venus orbits second closest to the sun.
  • Venus dazzles more brightly than even most stars in the early-evening sky.
Seasons
Earth

Earth
(Used by permission of The University of Texas McDonald Observatory.)

Earth
  • Earth's the only planet where water exists as a liquid – this VERY important because water supports lots of different life forms that other planets cannot support!
  • Earth is the third planet from the sun.
  • The tilt of Earth on its axis creates the seasons.
Mars

Mars
(Used by permission of The University of Texas McDonald Observatory.)

Mars
  • A year on Mars is about as long as two Earth years.
  • Mars orbits fourth from the sun.
  • Mars isn't easy to spot, but you'll have the best shot in November and December around 11:00 p.m.

 

<== The Milky Way Outer Planets ==>


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