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Nebular Planets Basics- Information and Theory on Our Solar System.

Updated on August 4, 2014
The Planets of the Solar System
The Planets of the Solar System
Mercury
Mercury

Mercury

Mercury is the closest planet to our sun, named after the Roman god of trade. Think "MER"-chandise.

  • This planet is small, dense, hot, and has many craters so that it looks like our moon.
  • Mercury has no atmosphere and no moons.
  • Its surface temperature ranges from 150°Cto 450°C (302°F to 842°F).

Venus
Venus

Venus

Venus has always been considered a beautiful planet, which is why it was named after the Roman goddess of beauty.

  • Almost the same size and density of Earth, Venus is the third brightest object in sky and can be seen alternately in the mornings and evenings, which is why Venus is often called the "Morning Star" or "Evening Star".
  • A runaway greenhouse effect makes it the hottest planet. There are high concentrations of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and sulfur, which make sulfuric acid. If you remember using this stuff in chemistry class, you know that it is highly corrosive.
  • Atmospheric pressure is over 90 times that of Earth, so it can certainly crush a human.
  • It is very difficult to land spacecraft on Venus, but the surface has been mapped out using radar by spacecraft in orbit.
  • There is a lot of volcanic activity on Venus, and a high amount of lightening in the atmosphere.

Venus, the Maya Dresden Codex
Venus, the Maya Dresden Codex

Mars

This planet was named after the Roman god of war.

  • It has a red surface due to rust (iron oxide) and a very thin atmosphere of carbon dioxide.
  • Mars has WATER! Its polar caps are frozen water and carbon dioxide. There is also evidence that Mars had liquid water at one time, seen in the effects of erosion over its surface.
  • If you're standing on Mars, the sky also looks red.
  • Mars has 2 very small moons.

Mars
Mars

Jupiter

This is the largest planet in the solar system, which is why it was named after the king of the Roman gods.

  • Jupiter has very thick cloud cover, which scientists believe leads down to a liquid hydrogen core.
  • If Jupiter had more mass, it could become a small star.
  • This lovely planet has thin, dark rings, several moons, and a famous Red Spot, which is a huge storm system.

Jupiter, showing its Red Spot on the bottom right
Jupiter, showing its Red Spot on the bottom right

Saturn

This is another large, gaseous planet, which was named for the Roman god of agriculture.

  • The atmosphere is made of hydrogen and helium, and it is believed that the planet has a liquid metal core. Most of Saturn's atmosphere is even less dense than water.
  • Saturn has famous rings, which are mostly made of dust, rocks, and frozen water, and are actually 10 feet thick.
  • The moon's of Saturn actually help to maintain its rings.

How did Saturn get its rings?

The Roche Limit states that if a moon gets too close to a planet, the planet's gravitational pull can actually rip the moon into pieces, which may explain how Saturn's rings were formed!

Saturn, showing a moon crossing across the bottom half (the small black spot)
Saturn, showing a moon crossing across the bottom half (the small black spot)

Uranus

Uranus is light blue in color, and is a little funky, because it rotates on its side. It has faint rings. It gets its name from the Greek representation of the sky.

Uranus, showing its rings.
Uranus, showing its rings.

Neptune

Neptune is bluish-greenish, as is named after the Roman god of the sea. It has rings and a white spot.

  • The existence of Neptune was actually predicted before the planet was discovered.
  • Some professors instructed young English and French students to look for another planet, because they knew that something was interrupting Uranus' orbit.

Neptune
Neptune
Pluto
Pluto

Pluto

Yes, you're right, this is no longer a planet, but I have always had a fondness for lonely little Pluto, and I'm having a hard time letting it go.

  • It is now technically considered a "dwarf planet".
  • It spends 10 years during its orbit closer to the sun than Neptune.
  • Not surprisingly, Pluto was named for the Greek god of the underworld (also known as Hades).

What is Titius Bode's Law?

  • A mechanical relationship between the distances from the sun to all of the planets.
  • Basically, you follow a numerical pattern, assigning a number to Each planet. You add 4, divide by 10, and you get the distance of the planet from the sun in AUs*.

So for example, let's look at Mercury, the closest planet to the sun. Since it is the closest planet, we'll start with the number 0.

0 plus 4 equals 4. 4 divided by 10 equals .4

Mercury is .39 au* from the sun.

For Venus, we'll start with 3.

3 + 4 = 7. 7/10 = .7

Venus is .72 au from the sun.

  • For each planet after Venus, you double the starting number of the previous planet.
  • The pattern continues all the way up to Pluto.
  • The only planet that does not fit into Titius-Bode's law is Neptune.


*AU = Astronomical Unit. Based on the average distance of the Earth from the Sun.

Titius Bode's Law

Mercury: 0
0 +4 = 4
4 divided by 10 = .4
Mercury's distance: .39 au
Venus: 3
7
.7
.72
Earth: 6
10
1
1
Mars: 12
16
1.6
1.52
Asteroid Belt: 24
28
2.8
2.7
Jupiter: 48
52
5.2
5.2
Saturn: 96
100
10
9.58

Comments

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    • stephaniedas profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Das 

      6 years ago from Miami, US

      Thank you for the wonderful feedback. I am really writing these hubs about something I enjoy so much, so its nice to hear that other people enjoy it too. The only thing I was worried about explaining well was the last part about Titius Bode's law...I learned about it in a classroom, so it is difficult to turn that verbal explanation into a hub.

      Also, Uranus is one of my favorite planets because I think its so interesting that it rotates on its "side" compared to all of the other planets.

    • ktrapp profile image

      Kristin Trapp 

      6 years ago from Illinois

      This is a very useful article for any one needing to do research on planets. The photos are amazing and it is so interesting how each planet differs.

    • Iintertrans profile image

      Iintertrans 

      6 years ago from New Delhi

      Dear stephaniedas,

      When 1000 of planet based documents are there you had really given a neat and clean account of our planet system. It is a nice read.

      I had really voted this up.

      You had written in such a way that is very interesting for even the kids to read.

      I had voted this useful and interesting.

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