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The solar system astronomy for kids

Updated on August 3, 2012

Astronomy for kids

We are in an age now where kids are drawn to computers, T.V and many other things that keep their short attention spans. How then can you get your kids to leave the house and consider more than when the next GTA is coming out.

The answer is astronomy for kids. The solar system is absolutely fascinating subject, one which will hold your children's attentions span. So how can you get your children in the planets, the solar system and astronomy.

Well you need to embrace interactive methods, get them playing games and enjoying the subject. Many people think you need a telescope and whilst this can make things even more interesting it is not a vital requirement and a lot of fun can be had using computers, the night sky and some imagination.

So we'll first look at some of the planets and I will link you to some useful resources.

Jupiter and some of it's moons

Jupiter the largest planet in the Solar system, you can clearly see the red spot, which is a storm which has been seen since 1831.
Jupiter the largest planet in the Solar system, you can clearly see the red spot, which is a storm which has been seen since 1831. | Source

Astronomy for kids planets

Firstly let's look at the solar system in order moving from the sun in the centre outwards

  1. Sun -This is our solar systems start and without it we would not be here.
  2. Mercury - This is the closest planet to the sun, it has less than 2 days in a year!
  3. Venus - The brightest planet in the sky and can often be seen with the naked eye.
  4. Earth - The planet you are standing on. Has water in all three states, ice (solid), water (liquid), clouds (gas). This is partly what allows life to survive.
  5. Mars - Got the largest volcano in the solar system at 27km high
  6. Astroid Belt - Contains a dwarf planet called Ceres
  7. Jupiter - Largest planet in the solar system, A day lasts just 9 hours 55 minutes!
  8. Saturn - Even though it's the second largest planet it's also the lightest!
  9. Uranus - has an axis of 97.7 degrees meaning it rotates almost parallel to the other planets
  10. Neptune - Orbits the sun very slowly, 1 Neptune year lasts 165 Earth years!
  11. Pluto - Sadly has been reclassified a dwarf planet
  12. Kuiper Belt - An area beyond Neptune which is similar to the asteroid belt but contain may ices or frozen gases.

To help children remember the planets in order and a couple of facts about each here is a useful video.

Astronomy for kids planets song

The solar system Orbit

The solar system astronomy for kids

The solar system conjures up images in many peoples mind but it really is a beautiful thing to see the video to the right shows the orbits of the planets in the solar system in relation to each other. You can clearly see the fast orbiting Mercury in comparison to the extreme slow rotation of Neptune.

You can help your kids get an idea on the distances involved and the scales by helping them make a model of the solar system:

Equipment

Things You'll Need

  • Two 4 1/2-inch Styrofoam rings
  • 1 iinch Styrofoam ball
  • 2-inch Styrofoam ball
  • 2 1/2-inch Styrofoam ball
  • 3-inch Styrofoam ball
  • 4-inch Styrofoam ball
  • 6-inch Styrofoam ball
  • Two 1 1/4-inch Styrofoam balls
  • Two 1 1/2-inch Styrofoam balls
  • Yellow, black, orange, blue, green and red acrylic paints
  • Two 36-by-1 1/8-inch dowel rods
  • Paintbrush
  • Ruler
  • Glue
  • Craft scissors


The solar system astronomy for kids

An excelent model of the solar system made by kids.
An excelent model of the solar system made by kids. | Source

Instructions to make your solar system

  1. Cut the dowel rods (wooden rods) into lengths of 2.5 inches, 4 inches, 5 inches, 6 inches, 7 inches, 8 inches, 10 inches, 11.5 inches, and 14.5 inches.
  2. Paint the Styrofoam balls to represent the planets. For Mars and Pluto, use the 1 1/4-inch balls For Mercury use the 1-inch ball For Earth and Venus use the 1 1/2-inch balls For Neptune use the 2-inch ball For Uranus use the 2 1/2-inch ball For Saturn use the 3-inch ball For Jupiter use the 4-inch ball For the sun use the 6-inch ball.
  3. Connect the dowel rods to the planets and to the sun with glue. Place the closest planet, Mercury, on the shortest dowel rod, and then work your way down the longer dowel rods as you move on to each planet in the solar system.

Astronomy games for kids

There are loads of games which can be played to help kids with learning about the planets and the solar system some of those are to the right. There are also many sites which have resources and interactive games to help develop your child's interest and knowledge.

http://www.kidsastronomy.com - This is a superb site which has many games including, build your own solar system, hangman, quizzes, make a planet and colouring resources. It could be used to take what you are talking about and puttito encourageng it into practice.

http://exploringtinyplanets.com/ - A set of educational and interactive resources about planets. Has structured content aimed at 4-7 years old. An excellent resource.

http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/menu/play/ - A series of games developped by Nasa to encourage astronomy for kids.

Whatever you are looking for remember to also get out in the garden and look at the night sky that is the best and most interactive way to learn, bring astronomy to life and spark a lifelong interest in this wonderful subject.

Children's Planet Quiz

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Comments

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    • dipless profile imageAUTHOR

      dipless 

      6 years ago from Manchester

      Thank you very much, you are pretty awesome.

    • TFScientist profile image

      Rhys Baker 

      6 years ago from Peterborough, UK

      Five out of Five! I'm awesome! Good hub - liked the model. Thanks for sharing

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