The Solar System is the realm of the Sun.
It consists of a number of different objects.
The Solar System does not include the stars.
- The Sun itself. The Sun is a star that we see from close up. It is a huge ball of glowing gases with a mass over 330,000 that of the Earth. Indeed all the other objects in the Solar System put together have a mass of less than 1% that of the Sun.
- Eight Major Planets (also known as Classical Planets). These orbit the Sun at various distances and include
the Earth. The major planets revolve around the Sun in elliptical orbits that are, for the most part, nearly circular. These orbits are roughly in
the same plain.
- Numerous Satellites. Most of the planets have satellite systems (moons). The Earth has a single Moon; Venus has none while
Jupiter and Saturn have dozens. Some satellites are as big as the smaller planets; others are irregularly shaped rocks a few kilometers in size.
- A multitude of Minor Planets.
- Asteroids (or Planetoids) orbit in the inner solar system mainly between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Some
are found close to the Sun among the inner planets. A few actually go around the Sun in the orbit of a planet like Jupiter (these are called
Trojans). Several orbit among the outer planets and these are called Centaurs. A few are large enough to be
spherical but most are irregular in shape. They are mainly made up of rock, metal or carbon.
- Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs). These are icy worlds orbiting in the outer solar system beyond the major planets. The larger ones
are spherical. Pluto is the most famous KBO (it was once classified as a planet) and it possesses satellites. Many have markedly elliptical orbits,
often not in the plane of the orbits of the major planets.
- The Comets. These are icy and rocky bodies that orbit the Sun in highly elliptical orbits that are very inclined to the plane of the orbits of the major planets. When they pass close to the Sun, they heat up and materials in the comet evaporate and produce a stream of dust and gases. This is the tail of the comet which always points away from the Sun.
In this section, I will introduce the reader to the main bodies in the Solar System. Tables will give more detailed information.
Tabulated details about the Sun with explanations of the terms used. The Sun is the Solar System's star, a huge ball of glowing gases.
Tabulated details about the Earth with explanations of the terms used. The Earth is the Solar System's third planet. It is the only planet that is known to harbour life.
Tabulated details about the Moon with explanations of the terms used. The Moon is the Earth's only natural satellite and the only other body apart from the Earth itself that human beings have visited.
Tabulated details about the eight major planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune) with explanations of the terms used. There are links to tables about the satellites of
Tabulated details about selected minor planets (Astroids, Trojans, Centaurs and Kuiper Belt Objects) with explanations of the terms used.
Tabulated details about the two moons of Mars.
Tabulated details about the 63 moons of Jupiter.
Tabulated details about the 60 moons of Saturn.
Tabulated details about 27 moons of Uranus.
Tabulated details about the 13 moons of Neptune.
Tabulated details about the 4 moons of Kuiper Belt Object, Pluto.
Tabulated details about the 2 moons of Kuiper Belt Object, Haumea.
© 2006 by KryssTal
This section is dedicated to Bob Snell.
KryssTal Related Pages
A table containing a list of the 20 brightest stars and explanations of all the associated terms like magnitude, spectral type and radial velocity.
When and how humans gained knowledge about the Universe and our place in it.
How the various properties of stars are measured.
The force that moves apples and planets. A short introduction to the ideas of Kepler and Newton that culminated with the theory of Universal Gravitation.
External Solar System Links
These links will open in a separate window
The NASA Page
Up to date information and images from NASA about all aspects of astronomy.
Interactive site with educational activities.
Database of extra-solar planets.
Jets Observing the Skies
An excellent source for children with questions and quizzes.