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Space Information for Kids - Planets in our Solar System

From the earth, we can see six of the other planets in our solar system without a telescope. They look like bright stars, but they change their position from night to night. This is why they are called planets. Planet means "wanderer."
The six planets are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus. We can see them because they reflect the light of the sun—just as our moon does. The planet closest to us, Venus, is also the brightest. We see Venus sometimes at dawn as the "morning star" and sometimes at sunset as the "evening star." When they are closest to Earth, Mars and Jupiter shine nearly as brightly as Venus. Mars is easy to spot because it has a reddish-orange color. It is often called the Red Planet.

Mars and Venus appear so bright because they are our nearest neighbors among the planets. Jupiter lies very far away. It seems bright because it is so gigantic. It is more than a thousand times bigger than Earth! In fact, it is the biggest planet in the solar system.

What are planets made of?

Mars, Venus, and Mercury are balls of rock, like Earth. They are often called the terrestrial, or Earthlike, planets. The four giant planets—Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune— consist mainly of gas. These planets are similar in other ways. They are surrounded by rings made up of pieces of rock and ice. And they are at the center of miniature systems made up of many satellites, or moons.

The odd planet out is Pluto. This is the smallest planet of all, but it is so far away that we know little about it. It was not even discovered until 1930. It is a frozen world, with temperatures believed to be around -355 °F (-215 °C). Pluto has a moon called Charon.

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