The Solar System and Earth Patterns

Planets in the Solar System

We now know that our sun is the center of our solar system.

Eight planets, some dwarf planets, many moons, dust, gas, and thousands of asteroids and comets orbit around the sun.

Our solar system is made up of eight planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.

The eight planets sorted by size from largest to smallest are: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Earth, Venus, Mars, and Mercury.

Terrestrial planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars

  • Made up mostly of rock or metal

Gas giants: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune

  • Made up mostly of gases


  • Average-sized yellow star

  • Approximately 4.6 billion years old

  • The planets revolve around the Sun


  • Closest to the sun

  • Small, heavily cratered planet

  • Smallest planet in our solar system


  • Second from the sun

  • Similar to Earth in size and mass

  • Has a permanent blanket of clouds that trap so much heat that the temperatures on Venus are very hot


  • Third from the sun

  • About 150 million kilometers from the sun

  • Large amounts of water and an oxygen-rich atmosphere

  • Earth’s protective atmosphere blocks out most of the sun’s damaging rays


  • Fourth from the sun

  • Thin atmosphere

  • The surface of Mars has an orange-reddish color because its soil has rust


  • Fifth from the sun

  • Largest planet in the solar system

  • No solid surface


  • Sixth from the sun

  • Has prominent rings


  • Seventh from the sun

  • Spins on its side; the tilt of its axis is more than 90°


  • Eighth from the sun

  • Appears blue through telescopes


  • Dwarf planet

  • Is no longer considered a planet due to its small size and irregular orbit

Earth's Seasons

Rotation: the Earth spins on its axis and completes a full rotation every 24 hours

Revolution: the Earth moves around the sun and completes a full revolution every 365 ¼ days

Earth’s axis is tilted 23.5°, and because of this, we get seasons. As the Earth revolves around the Sun, during different times of the year, sometimes the Northern Hemisphere is tilted towards the sun and sometimes the Southern Hemisphere is tilted towards the sun.

Summer occurs in a hemisphere when that hemisphere is tilted towards the sun.

Winter occurs in a hemisphere when that hemisphere is tilted away from the sun.

Phases of the Moon

The moon doesn’t produce its own light; it reflects the Sun’s light. As the moon revolves around Earth, as it does so about once every month, the Sun lights up different parts of it, creating the phases of the moon.

Waxing: the moon appears to be getting bigger

Waning: the moon appears to be getting smaller

New moon: the moon is between the Earth and the Sun, so the lit up side of the moon is facing away from us

Crescent: we can see a small sliver of the moon’s lit up side

First/third quarter: the moon, Earth, and Sun form a right angle, and we can see half of the moon’s lit up side

Gibbous: we can see the majority of the moon’s lit up side

Full moon: the Earth is between the moon and the Sun, and the moon is completely lit up

Historical Models of the Solar System

Earth-centered model

  • The Earth is the center of the universe and all other heavenly bodies orbit around Earth

  • Believed by early astronomers such as Aristotle and Ptolemy

Sun-centered model

  • Current model

  • The planets in our solar system orbit the Sun

  • Proposed by Copernicus and Galileo


Sources Used and Helpful Links