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Fascinating Facts About the Solar System

Bhavya Verma Feb 29, 2020
The planet Mercury takes 88 Earth days to orbit the Sun while it takes Neptune 165 Earth years to do so. More such facts about the solar system are presented here.
All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them. ~ Galileo Galilei
The abstruseness of this ever expanding Universe mesmerizes everyone. It's like a labyrinth of celestial bodies, alluring human beings to go deeper into its infinite world! From the beauty of twinkling stars, to the super power of the Sun, our solar system is an enigma, one that we always try to explore, to the best of our technological abilities.
The more we go deep into it, the farther and farther the horizon seems to be. With a gratitude and a salute to the master creator, Let us attempt to present before you some astonishing, wonderful and eye-popping facts about our solar system which will leave you awestruck.

Basic Facts

There are 8 planets in the solar system that revolve around the Sun. These are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Let us take a look at the realities about our planets and the Solar System.
  • The Sun is almost 4.6 billion years old and its diameter is 1.4 million kilometers.
  • The Sun is, in fact, an average-sized middle-aged star that was formed by a huge cloud of dust and gases.
  • The temperature at the core of the sun is 15 million kelvins and it spins on its axis from east to west.
  • It takes around eight minutes for the light to reach the Earth from the Sun. The Earth receives only one billionth of the total energy that the sun produces.
  • Mercury, the smallest planet, is 58 million kilometers away from the Sun. Its diameter is 4,880 kilometers.
  • It rotates on its axis in 59 Earth days and revolves around the Sun in 88 Earth days.
  • Due to its proximity to the Sun, Mercury has huge variations from as high as 870°F to as low as -300°F. Its crust is believed to be rocky, thin and is covered with craters, and its core is thick and metallic.
  • Venus, the brightest planet, is 67 million miles away from the Sun with a diameter of 7,521 miles.
  • It rotates in 243 Earth days and revolves around the Sun in 225 Earth days. Its surface temperature is as high as 900°F and it is covered with craters, mountains, lava plains, volcanoes, etc.
  • Earth, the blue planet has a diameter of 7,926 miles and is 93 million miles away from the Sun.
  • It spins on its axis in 23 hours and 56 minutes, and revolves around the Sun in 365¼ days.
  • The average surface temperature is around 60°F and it is covered mostly with salt water in the form of oceans.
  • Mars, the red planet, is 142 million miles away from the Sun and has a diameter of 4,212 miles.
  • It rotates on its axis in 24 hours and 37 minutes and takes 687 Earth days to revolve.
  • Its temperature ranges between 190-90°F. The surface has canyons, volcanoes, dry ice and a lot of rust (iron oxide) that gives it the red color.
  • Jupiter, the biggest planet in the solar system, has a diameter of 89,000 miles and is 483 million miles away from the Sun.
  • It takes 12 Earth years to go round the Sun but only 10 Earth hours to spin on its own axis.
  • Jupiter has a gaseous surface which becomes denser with depth, and the temperature of its uppermost cloud is -244°F.
  • Saturn is the second largest planet in the system with a diameter of 74,900 miles and is around 888 million miles away from Sun.
  • It spins on its axis in 11 Earth hours and takes 29.4 Earth years to orbit the Sun.
  • It does not have a solid surface and the average temperature is around -300°F.
  • Uranus is the third largest planet in the solar system with 31,800 miles diameter and is 1.8 billion miles away from the Sun.
  • It orbits around the Sun in 84 Earth years and rotates on its own axis in 17 hours.
  • Its average temperature is around -350°F which makes it very cold and it too, does not have a solid surface.
  • Neptune is almost as large as Uranus with a diameter of 31,000 miles and is 2.8 billion miles away from the Sun.
  • It spins on the axis in 16 Earth hours but takes 165 Earth years to orbit the Sun.
  • The gaseous surface of Neptune which makes it appear blue, has a temperature of -370°F.

Fun Facts

  • 99.86% mass of the solar system is that of the Sun.
  • Saturn, if put in water, would float due to low density.
  • The nearest star to the Sun is the Proxima Centauri which is still 4.2 light years away.
  • Mars has the highest volcano 'Olympus Mons' (it is 14 miles above the surface) and the largest canyon 'Valles Marineris' (1300 miles long, 300 miles wide and 5 miles deep) in the solar system.
  • The 'Great Comet' seen in 1843 has the longest tail that stretched over 800 million kilometers which is almost the distance between Earth and Jupiter.
  • Some pieces of Mars are found on Earth which are present in the form of rocks.
  • Jupiter's moon 'Io' is known as the 'pizza moon' because the sulfur emitted from its volcanic activities makes its surface resemble a pepperoni pizza.
  • Asteroid 1950 DA has an orbit that intersects Earth's orbit and hence, it is considered to be the greatest threat.
  • Saturn's moon Titan is the only moon that has an atmosphere thicker than Earth.
  • Landing on the giant planets of our solar system would be foolish as there is nothing to land on. They are all gaseous and have molten liquid core that is hot.
  • We only see one side of the Moon at any given time because it takes almost the same time to rotate on its axis and revolve around the Sun.
  • Pluto has 1,000 times dimmer sunlight as compared to Earth.
  • Ceres makes for almost ¼ of the mass of main asteroid belt and even some asteroids have moons like asteroid 'Ida'.
  • It is believed that Uranus had a collision with another big object that resulted in its side tilt. Due to this it has 21 years of nighttime and daytime in winter and summer respectively, and 42 years of day and night in the spring and fall at its north pole.
  • Jupiter gives off more energy than it absorbs from the Sun.
  • It would take almost 800 years to reach Pluto and 26 years to reach the Sun in a commercial airplane. Hence, the speed of a spaceship is 30 times more than that of the fastest jet plane.
  • A day on Venus is longer than a year; it orbits the Sun faster than it rotates on its axis.
  • Pluto takes 248 Earth years to complete one round of the Sun.
  • Uranus and Neptune appear bluish because the red light of the visible spectrum is absorbed by the methane present in their atmosphere and blue is reflected.

Interesting Facts

  • There are 5 Dwarf planets in our Solar system namely, Ceres, Pluto, Haumea, Makemake, and Eris. Out of these, we only know enough about Ceres and Pluto.
  • 6 moons orbit the dwarf planets where each have - Pluto(3), Haumea(2), Eris(1).
  • There are 168 moons that orbit around the 8 planets of our solar system where the numbers are Earth(1), Mars(2), Jupiter(63), Saturn(62), Uranus(27), Neptune(13).
  • There is an asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter and the number of asteroids discovered till date are 537,161.
  • There are around 3976 known comets in our solar system and another estimated 1,000,000,000 comets held by the Sun's gravity.
  • Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune all have rings but Saturn's rings are the most prominent and Neptune's rings are in the shape of an arc.
  • All the planets spin on their axis, except for Uranus that spins like a barrel on its side.
  • Venus spins in the opposite direction as that of the earth.
  • The Kuiper belt is present beyond the orbit of Neptune and consists of the leftovers of the solar system formation which includes mostly frozen methane, ammonia and water collectively termed as 'ices'.
  • It's interesting to know how exactly did the solar system come into existence.
This was just a tip of the iceberg. There is still a plethora of information that we haven't unveiled about the universe in general, like is there life on other planets, and our solar system in particular.
One of the reasons is that our universe is still expanding. There is so much we have explored and still so much more to learn and understand, and for us mere mortals to bow to the Creator and his master plan.