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A planet is a large space object which revolves around a star. It also reflects that star’s light. Eight planets have been discovered in our solar system. Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars are the closet planets to the sun known as the Inner Planets. Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune are the outer planets and are large balls of gases with rings around them. All eight planets travel around the Sun in a different orbit.
Mercury is the second smallest planet in our solar system. Only the planet Pluto is smaller. Mercury is about the same size as our Moon. It is very close to the Sun. Mercury travels around the Sun faster than any other planet. That is how it got its name.
Venus is called the Evening Star. It is called this because it looks so bright to us from Earth.Venus is the closest planet to Earth, but it does not have oceans or human life like Earth. Venus gets so hot during the day that it could melt a lead cannonball. The temperature rises to 484 degrees Celsius on the side facing the Sun.
Seventy percent of the Earth's surface is covered by water. The remaining 30 percent is covered by mountains, volcanoes, deserts, plains, and valleys. Earth is the third closest planet to the Sun. It has an atmosphere made up of many different gases, but mainly it is nitrogen and oxygen. The atmosphere gives us air to breathe. We live on the planet Earth.
Mars has many craters which were formed by meteorites or asteroids hitting it. Mars also has some of the tallest volcanoes and some of the deepest valleys in our solar system. Mars has two moons, Phobos and Deimos which have unusual shapes. Scientists think these potato-shaped moons were once asteroids captured by Mars' gravitational pull .
Jupiter is a large gas planet whose clouds change colors daily. This planet is made mostly of hydrogen and helium gases. Jupiter gives off two times more heat than it gets from the Sun. It shines very brightly in the night sky for nine months of the year when it is closest to Earth.
Saturn is a very large gasplanet which spins very rapidly on its axis. It spins so fast that it flattens out the top and the bottom of the planet. The fast spin also causes Saturn to bulge at its equator. Saturn's atmosphere has winds which can blow at over 1800 kilometers per hour! The white spots on Saturn are believed to be powerful storms. Saturn is surrounded by over 1000 rings made of ice and dust.
Uranus is one of the smaller gas giants in our solar system, but it is still large enough to hold 64 planets the size of Earth. Uranus tilts over so far on its axis that it rotates on its side. Uranus' atmosphere is made up of hydrogen, helium, and methane. The temperature in the upper atmosphere is very cold. The cold methane gas is what gives Uranus its blue-green color.
This planet has large, dark circles on its surface which astronomers believe to be storms. Neptune has two thick and two thin rings which surround it. Neptune also has at least nine moons. Four of these moons orbit the planet within the rings. One of Neptune's moons, Triton, orbits the planet in a direction opposite to Neptune's other moons. Neptune is the farthest planet from the Sun.