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The Solar System


Facts About the Solar System
The 10 Largest Bodies in the Solar System
The 10 Largest Planetary Moons
Miscellaneous Photos of the SunMiscellaneous Photos of the Sun
Solar Activity in 1959Solar Activity in 1959
One of the greatest solar flares ever seen occurred on May 10. A total eclipse of the Sun occurred on October 2.
Solar Activity in 1979Solar Activity in 1979
A total eclipse of the Sun was visible across much of Canada and parts of the northern United States on February 26.
is the smallest planet in the Solar System. Despite being so close to the Sun, it is believed that water ice may actually be present in the protected shadows of some craters.
is the sixth largest planet. Except for the Sun and the Moon, it is the brightest object in the sky. Its rotation is unusual in that it is both very slow and retrograde. Venus is similar enough to Earth in many ways that the two have often been called "sister planets." The first spacecraft to land on another planet was the Soviet Union's Venera 7, which landed on Venus in 1970.
is the seventh largest planet. At its closest approach to Earth it is the third brightest object in the night sky. The largest mountain in the Solar System is on Mars. It is one of only two planets in the Solar System to have had a spacecraft land on its surface.
are the relatively small rocky bodies that occupy the orbital path between Mars and Jupiter. Once thought to be the remnants of a former planet, it is now more commonly believed that they occupy a place where a sizable planet could have formed, but was prevented from doing so. They range in size from about 480 miles in diameter, down to just a few feet across.
is the largest planet in the Solar System. In fact, it is so big that all eight of the other planets (including Pluto) could fit within it and still have room to spare. The Great Red Spot for which it is best known has been seen from Earth for more than 300 years. It has 63 known satellites, two of which would be considered planets if they orbited the Sun.
is the second largest planet. Although they look continuous from Earth, Saturn's rings are actually composed of innumerable small particles, each in an independent orbit. To date, 34 Saturnian moons have been named.
is the fourteenth of Saturn's known satellites, and its second largest.
is the fifteenth of Saturn's moons, and its largest. Unlike almost every other satellite in the Solar System, it has a significant atmosphere. Pictures of its surface indicate that is clouds may actually produce enough "rain" to create rivers and lakes.
is the third largest planet. Discovered by William Herschel in 1781, it was the first planet to be discovered in modern times. It did not, however, receive its current name until 1850.
is the second largest satellite of Uranus.
is the fourteenth and largest of Uranus' known satellites.
is the largest moon of Neptune. It is the only large satellite in the Solar System to circle a planet in a direction opposite to the rotation of the planet.
is not only the smallest planet in the Solar System, it is actually smaller in diameter than seven of the system's moons. On August 24, 2006, the International Astronomical Union reclassified Pluto as a "dwarf planet."
CometArend-RolandComet Arend-Rolland
Discovered in 1956 and best viewed from Earth in 1957, the most striking feature of this comet was a sunward-directed spike.
Comet MrkosComet Mrkos
Discovered in 1957, the most notable feature of this comet was a "double tail."
LeonidsThe Leonids
are a spectacular display of meteors that occurs every November, with even more spectacular displays every 33 years.


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