Student Research Pages - Planets (Inner Planets)
Of the 8 planets in our solar system, you have a good chance of seeing 4 without a telescope: Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Venus shines especially brightly (except in October).
We group the planets of our solar system into "inner" and "outer" planets. What's the difference?
Inner planets: the four closet to the sun.
They are also called the "terrestrial planets" because they are made mostly of rock and metal.
Outer planets: the four farthest from the sun.
They are also called the "gas giants" because they are made mostly of gases.
- One day on Mercury lasts almost 59 Earth days!
- Of all the planets, Mercury orbits closest to the sun.
- Late evening skies in March make the best time for spotting Mercury.
- Venus spins backwards!
- Venus orbits second closest to the sun.
- Venus dazzles more brightly than even most stars in the early-evening sky.
- Earth's the only planet where water exists as a liquid – this VERY important because water supports lots of different life forms that other planets cannot support!
- Earth is the third planet from the sun.
- The tilt of Earth on its axis creates the seasons.
- A year on Mars is about as long as two Earth years.
- Mars orbits fourth from the sun.
- Mars isn't easy to spot, but you'll have the best shot in November and December around 11:00 p.m.