Solar System Overview

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  • 0:01 What Is the Solar System?
  • 0:35 The Sun and Planets
  • 2:29 The Moons
  • 3:27 Asteroids, Comets, Meteoroids
  • 4:57 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson will go over the major aspects of our solar system, including the sun, planets, moons, asteroids, comets, meteors, meteorites, and meteoroids.

What is the Solar System?

The Solar System is the sun, along with all the planets, moons, asteroids, and meteoroids, held by the sun's gravitational field.

That definition clearly means there is a lot of stuff hanging around in our solar system. It's like any neighborhood on Earth. There will be big and small houses. There will be all sorts of cars driving by and a lot of other things.

Because there's so much to learn about the solar system, this lesson will focus on giving you an important general overview of its components.

The Sun and Planets

The Sun is our solar system's central star, of medium size and brightness. It's actually pretty cool that we only have one star. We're used to it and think it's boring, but about half of all stars are located in binary systems, or two stars. We don't want two stars in our solar system because astronomers believe life would be much harder, if not impossible, to come by with the craziness of two stars in one small space.

It's like two people who constantly argue with one another; no life form (dog, cat, human, or otherwise) wants to be anywhere near them.

So, in our little neighborhood there are no arguments as there is only one king and ruler. It is our sun, and it dictates just about everything due to its size and gravitational field.

There are eight planets that orbit our sun. They are in order, from nearest to the sun to farthest away from it as follows:

  • Mercury
  • Venus
  • Earth
  • Mars
  • Jupiter
  • Saturn
  • Uranus
  • Neptune

To help you remember their order, think of the mnemonic, 'My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nachos,' where the first letter of every word obviously stands for the first letter of each planet.

Pluto is now considered to be a large dwarf planet after it was demoted from fully-fledged planetary status not too long ago.

The 'real' planets, if you will, are further subdivided into the terrestrial planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Earth) and the Jovian planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune). The latter are gas giants that have no solid surface.

The Moons

Some planets in our solar system have one or more moons. A moon is a natural satellite of a planet. You see our moon almost every clear night, but Earth is anything but special.

Terrestrial planets have few, if any moons, while the Jovian planets have scores of them.

The planets in our solar system that have moons include:

  • Earth, with one moon.
  • Mars, with two moons.
  • Jupiter, which has at least 50 known moons with 17 more awaiting confirmation.
  • Saturn has 53 known ones and 9 more in confirmation limbo.
  • Uranus can count on 27 moons.
  • Neptune has an unlucky 13 of them. Maybe that's why it's the last planet.

It's therefore really easy to know the answer to the question of how many planets in our solar system have no moon. It's two, the very first two planets, Mercury and Venus, which have no moons.

Asteroids, Comets, Meteoroids

Our solar system also contains asteroids. An asteroid is a minor planet that's made up of metal and/or rock.

Most asteroids are located in the asteroid belt that loops between Mars and Jupiter.

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