Outer Planets of the Solar System: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune

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  • 0:05 Four Giants and a Dwarf
  • 1:53 Jupiter
  • 2:33 Saturn
  • 3:08 Uranus
  • 4:03 Neptune
  • 4:54 Pluto
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Amy Meyers

Amy holds a Master of Science. She has taught science at the high school and college levels.

Take a tour of the outer planets of our solar system: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Find out what makes each of these gas giants unique and learn about Pluto, a dwarf planet.

Four Giants and a Dwarf

Hello! My name is Star. Welcome to Out of This World Tours! Today's unique tour of the solar system includes breathtaking views of the four outer planets, commonly called gas giants: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. We'll also visit the dwarf planet, Pluto. So hop on board my ship and come with me for a ride!

It is a bit of a journey to get to our first stop. While we're traveling almost one billion kilometers, depending on where the two planets are in their orbits, let me give you some of the history of this area.

Our solar system consists of eight planets, one sun, one dwarf planet, an asteroid belt, and many moons. The sun is in the middle of our solar system. Next come Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars. These are the small and rocky inner planets known as the terrestrial planets. After Mars, there is an asteroid belt that separates the inner planets from the outer ones. The outer planets are called the jovian planets, meaning huge gas giant. These planets in order are Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Pluto comes after Neptune, but it is no longer considered a planet. It is now a dwarf planet.

The outer planets are also called the gas giants because of their composition.
Gas Giant Outer Planets

Size is the most obvious difference between the inner and outer planets. The outer planets are huge! Our largest inner planet is Earth, and Earth is only 1/4 the size of the smallest outer planet, Neptune.

The inner planets are rocky, sometimes all the way to their core. Gas giants are made mostly of gas with a non-gaseous core. Scientists haven't been able to discover exactly what exists in the core of a gas giant. They believe it may be solid or made of liquid metal.

Hold on, we're traveling through the asteroid belt now, and the ride gets a bit bumpy. Finally, that's over. Look! Here we are at our first stop - Jupiter.


Jupiter is the first of the outer planets in order. It is also the biggest, with a mass that is more than all the other planets combined. Jupiter is so big that it often changes the trajectory of passing comets and thereby protects the inner planets from being hit by them.

Jupiter spins very fast on its axis, so one day there is short, only 10 Earth hours. But its year is quite long, nearly 12 Earth years.

Look out your window and check out those colorful bands. The pattern of wide and narrow bands you see are made of whirling clouds. Jupiter also has very faint rings and at least 50 moons - probably more! Wow! What a great place to visit.


The next stop on our tour is Saturn. Most people know Saturn for its rings, which are the brightest rings in the solar system. Many people don't know that Saturn is also a windy place, with winds at its equator that get up to 1100 miles per hour! Saturn also boasts 50 moons, including the largest moon in the solar system - Titan. Titan is bigger than the planet Mercury and is so large it has its own atmosphere.

A day on Saturn is 10 hours 39 minutes, and a year lasts 29.4 Earth years.

Alright, enough about this wonderful ringed planet. Off we go to planet number seven!


Uranus looks different than the other planets, as you can see. It is tipped on its side. Scientists aren't sure why it is tilted, but they think it may have been hit by a large object, possibly a planet, a long time ago that caused it to tilt. Another theory is that the gravity of its large moons is pulling it over to its side.

Uranus was discovered only 200 years ago, and it is hard for scientists to study because it is so far from Earth. Scientists do know it has narrow, dark rings, is four times the size of Earth, and has at least 27 moons.

Uranus was possibly hit by a large object, causing it to tip on its side.
Uranus Tipped Planet

A day on Uranus is shorter than an Earth day at 17 hours 14 minutes, and its year lasts nearly a century at 84.3 Earth years.

When they were first studying Uranus, scientists noticed that its orbit was different than what they expected. They thought this might be due to the gravity from another planet, so they started looking for one and found Neptune and Pluto. So that's where we're going next!


Ladies and Gentlemen, look out your window as we arrive at Neptune. You probably know Neptune as the blue planet, but you might not know the blue color is caused by the methane gas in its atmosphere. Neptune is also the windiest planet, clocking wind speeds of up to 2000 kilometers per hour! Scientists haven't studied Neptune much because it is so far away that it is hard to get information about it, and scientists have only once sent unmanned ships to visit it.

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