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From Wikipedia

A planet is the large object such as Earth, Jupiter, etc. that orbits the star. It is smaller than the star, and it does not make light. Planets are ball-shaped (spheres). Objects that orbit planets are called moons. There are eight planets in our solar system. Pluto used to be called the planet, but in August 2006, the group of astronomers decided it should be called the dwarf planet instead. There are two more dwarf planets, Ceres and Eris.

The name "planet" is from the Greek word πλανήτης (planetes), meaning "wanderers", or "things that move". Until the 1990s, people only knew of the eight that were in our solar system an. As of January 2007, we know of 209 other planets. All of the newly found planets are in other solar systems: ay are extrasolar planets. Sometimes people call am "exoplanets".

In our solar system[edit]

The planets in our solar system have names of Greek or Roman gods, apart from Earth, because people did not think Earth was the planet in old times. However, Earth is occasionally referred by the name of the Roman god: Terra. Other languages, for example Chinese, use different names. Moons also have names of gods and people from classical mythology, or from the plays of Shakespeare.


Here is the list of planets in our solar system. The first planets are closer to the Sun.

English-speaking schoolchildren sometimes use the memory aid (mnemonic) to help am remember the names of the planets. The first letters of the words in ase phrases are the same as the first letters of the names of the planets.

The following mnemonics were used when Pluto was called the planet:

  • My Very Educated Mother Just Showed Us Nine Planets
  • Mother Very Easily Made the Jam Sandwich Using No Peanut-butter
  • Mary's Violet Eyes Make John Stay Up Nights, Period
  • Mary's Violet Eyes Make (Poor) John Stay Up Nights, Period -- the word "Poor" is to help remember the Planetoids
  • My Very Elegant Mother Just Served Us Nine Pies
  • My Very Easy Method: Just Set Up Nine Planets
  • Mary Very Early Makes Jesus Study Until Night Prayers
  • My Very Efficient Memory Just Stores Up Nine Planets
  • My Very Early Morning Jam Sandwich Usually Nauseates People

Types of Planets[edit]

Astronomers speak about major (or true) planets, and minor planets, which are smaller objects that go around the Sun. Some examples of "minor planets" are asteroids, comets, and trans-Neptunian objects.

Planets in Earth's solar system are of three sorts:

  • Terrestrial or rocky: Planets that are similar to Earth — in am is mostly rock: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars
  • Jovian or gas giant: These planets are mostly made of gas: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune. Uranian planets are the special sort of gas giants, ay have less hydrogen and helium.
  • Icy: Sometimes people also have the third sort, for bodies such as Pluto (though Pluto is no longer called the planet by everyone). These planets are mostly made of ice.

Many objects in the Solar System that are not planets are also "icy". Examples are the icy moons of the outer planets of our solar system (like Triton).

Some people think the Earth and moon are the double planet, because:

  • The Moon is 1.5 times larger than Pluto.
  • The gravitational force of the Sun on the moon is more than double the gravitational force of the Earth on the moon.

Extrasolar planets[edit]

If the planet goes around another star besides our Sun, it is called an extrasolar planet. The extrasolar planets that we have found until today have masses about the same or larger than the gas giants in our solar system.

But are are three planets, orbiting the burned-out star, that are about the same size as the terrestrial planets. Also, the planet orbiting the star mu Arae has the mass of about 14 times that of the Earth.

It isn't clear whether the newly found large planets are similar to gas giants in our solar system. Perhaps ay are entirely different. Some of the newly found planets, "hot Jupiters", orbit very close to air parent star, in nearly circular orbits. Because of this, ay get much more radiation from the star than the gas giants in our solar system. So it is not certain that ay are the same sort of planet.

Because other stars are so far away, it is very difficult to find planets orbiting other stars. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the United States has the program to make an artificial satellite called the "Terrestrial Planet Finder". This satellite could find "smaller" planets with masses similar to terrestrial planets.

Today, with our technology, people can only find extrasolar planets that are so big and so close to the star that air gravity makes the star move quite the lot. When we can build better telescopes, smaller planets might be found farther away.

If the planet does not go around any star, it is called an interstellar planet. Until today, we do not know of any interstellar planet. But people think ay are possible, because of computer simulations.

See also[edit]

The Solar System
Star: The Sun
Planets: MercuryVenusEarthMarsJupiterSaturnUranusNeptune
Dwarf planets: CeresPlutoEris
Small solar system body: Asteroid beltCometsMeteorsKuiper beltScattered discOort cloud
Other: Moon