THE SOLAR SYSTEM

In the Solar System Channel, you can explore the planets and celestial objects around our own sun. Learn about topics such as Mars, Jupiter and the Moon.
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The Ultimate Moon Quiz

Wolves supposedly howl at it, a fairy tale claims a cow once jumped over it and legends say if you look hard enough, there's a man in it. Yes, the moon has a prominent place in popular culture, but there's a lot you might not know about Earth's little orbiting friend. Why doesn't it have soil? Why is its gravity so important? And are we really thinking of going back soon?

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  • How do planets form?
    How do planets form?

    It's tough to wrap your mind around a time when the Earth wasn't here. So how do Earth and the rest of the planets out there get their start in the universe? See more »

  • How Lunar Eclipses Work
    How Lunar Eclipses Work

    The only thing that's lurking in the shadows during a lunar eclipse is the moon. When Earth's shadow blocks sunlight from directly illuminating a full moon, you're witnessing a lunar eclipse. See more »

  • How Mars Works
    How Mars Works

    Since the 1960s, we've been captivated by our planetary neighbor. How different is the planet next door, and what have we learned about it so far, compliments of the Phoenix Mars Lander and other spacecraft? See more »

  • How NASA Planetary Protection Works
    How NASA Planetary Protection Works

    What if your job were to protect life in the galaxy at all costs? That's exactly what the folks manning NASA's Planetary Protection office do, and bunny suits are just the beginning. See more »

  • How Nomad Planets Work
    How Nomad Planets Work

    They exist in the netherworld between solar systems. Sometimes they arise after being ejected from their orbits, endlessly roaming the Milky Way. Could a nomad planet ever wander a little too close? See more »

  • How Solar Eclipses Work
    How Solar Eclipses Work

    A total solar eclipse is a rare event that can be an amazing thing to witness. Learn about solar eclipses and how to observe one safely. See more »

  • How Sunspots Work
    How Sunspots Work

    Sunspots are peculiar dark areas that show up regularly on the surface of the sun -- and often for no reason. What causes them? What effect could these funny little spots have on the Earth? See more »

  • How the Moon Works
    How the Moon Works

    The moon is often the largest object in the sky outside of the sun. What is the moon made of, how did it form -- and why do people blame it for their strange behavior? See more »

  • How the Sun Works
    How the Sun Works

    The sun warms our planet every day, provides the light by which we see and is necessary for life on Earth. But what is it exactly, and what will happen when it burns itself out? See more »

  • Is a major planetary alignment coming in 2012?
    Is a major planetary alignment coming in 2012?

    As doomsday theorists look to the sky for signs of a 2012 apocalypse, some believe the planets will align in a way that will spell catastrophe to life on our tiny home turf. Are their observations backed up with sound science? See more »

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