Planets

Where can I find information about the different planets in our solar system?

Senior Primary

(Years 5-8)

Image: [no title] by NASA on Stocksnap.io

Entry last updated: 22/03/22

Introduction

Planets are round objects that move in circles around stars. There are 8 planets in our solar system (including Earth), and 5 dwarf planets. These planets move around our star, which we call the Sun.

The planets

Here is a list of planets in our solar system.

Mercury : Closest to the Sun, this planet gets both very hot and very cold.

Venus : The brightest planet in the solar system.

Earth : The third planet from the Sun and our home - it's unique in many ways.

Mars : Sometimes called the ’red planet’ because it’s tinted red by iron oxide.

Jupiter : The largest planet, more than 300 times larger than the Earth.

Saturn : The second largest planet, which is surrounded by rings.

Uranus : The seventh planet from the sun, with 27 moons (that we know of).

Neptune : The planet farthest away from the sun.

Dwarf planets : Pluto, Ceres, Eris, Makemake and Haumea.

Facts and pictures

There are some great websites that have useful and reliable information about the planets, even though they are so far away! A lot of this information has been collected by satellites and spacecraft that are sent into space to find out more about planets and how the solar system works.

Solar System Exploration

This is a website run by NASA which has some awesome pictures and facts about our solar system. NASA is an overseas government organisation that researches and explores space.

  • Select the Planets topic.
  • Choose the planet you are interested in.
  • We liked the About Planets topic which shows our whole solar system.

Ask an Astronomer

This website is supported by NASA and has some great answers to astronomy questions.

  • Keep going down the page until you find the planet you're looking for.
  • Choose a question to explore your planet eg Is there life on Mars?
  • Explore this site to find the answers to lots of questions about space and about each of the planets.

Tips: We like sites that are from government or other reputable organisations, because we can trust the information. You can sometimes tell these sites by their web address – they might have .gov or .edu in their address – or by looking at their About us or Contact pages.

Windows to the Universe

This website is written by science teachers. It is a great place for questions about space and has lots of useful facts.

Planets for Kids

This website has been created for kids and has lots of interesting facts and statistics about planets, moons and the sun.

  • Select the Planets topic.
  • Then choose the planet you are interested in.
  • Explore the website to find out about other galaxies.

Tips: Websites that have .org or .net in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the organisation’s mission and values are.

Articles and videos

Humans have been interested in the planets for thousands of years, long before people knew what planets were like or how far away they are. Thanks to spacecraft and powerful telescopes we are now able to observe planets more closely and find out more about them. Try these websites for more detailed information about the planets.

Britannica School

This is one of the EPIC resources. EPIC is a collection of reliable databases covering lots of different topics. It’s put together especially for New Zealand school students and helps to answer questions like this.

  • Select Middle.
  • Search for 'planets'.
  • Choose the planet you want to research eg Neptune.
  • Select Images & Videos to see pictures of your planet.
  • In the Related topic, select Web's best sites to find some other websites to explore.

Tips: Search words, or keywords, are the most important words in our question. Usually it’s better to leave out small words like ‘the’, ‘a’ and ‘of’ and just choose the main ones, eg 'planets'. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.

Science in Context

This is another EPIC resource which has lots of articles from encyclopedias, magazines and journals.

  • Go to Browse Topics.
  • From the Topics dropdown menu choose Physics and Astronomy.
  • From the list select Planets and Dwarf Planets or a planet you're interested in.
  • Each topic gives an Overview and resources are grouped by type eg reference or videos.

Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.

Books

There have been many books written about the planets - check out your local public or school library to see what they have.

Some recommended titles are:

SCIS no: 1832261

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