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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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Mark Your Calendars for These 2021 Space Events, Astronomy Fans

Whether it's a solar eclipse, a meteor shower or the launch of the long-awaited James Webb Space Telescope, 2021 has a lot to offer.

Who Named Planet Earth?

All of the planets in the solar system are named for Greek gods, except Earth. So where did the name come from?

Get Ready for the Quadrantids, the First Meteor Shower of the New Year

The Quadrantids are a short but powerful meteor shower that shows up in early January. How can you glimpse it?

Why Are Magnetars So Scary?

A magnetar is a neutron star with a super-strong magnetic field. Astronomers consider them among the scariest objects in the universe, but why?

The Great Conjunction of 2020 Is a Celestial Event 800 Years in the Making

You might call it a Christmas miracle. Jupiter and Saturn will align so closely they may look like a double planet. The last time we saw this was in 1226.

Leonid Meteor Shower: What You Need to Know

The annual Leonid meteor shower is back, and peaks in the early-morning hours of November 17. It's made up of tiny bits of debris from the comet Tempel-Tuttle. Here's how to see it.

The Orionid Meteor Shower Is Back — Here's What You Need to Know

Every autumn, Earth passes through a stream of debris left by Halley's comet, resulting in nighttime meteor showers in mid-October. Best time this year is Oct. 21-22.

The Perseid Meteor Shower Is Back — Here's What You Need to Know

It's a celestial gift in the middle of August. Just look up for a spectacular sight.

How Old Is Earth and How Did Scientists Figure It Out?

In 1953, CalTech geochemist Clair Patterson came up with an estimate for Earth's age that still holds today.

Uranus: The Planet on a Very Tilted Axis

Uranus is the seventh planet from the sun and sits on an axial plane tilted at a jaw-dropping 97.7-degree angle. And yes, Uranus does actually stink.

New Kaleidoscopic Map Details the Geology of the Moon 

The moon has seen a lot in its 4.5 million years of life, and a detailed new geologic map serves as testament.

The Lyrid Meteor Shower Is Back — Here's What You Need to Know

Every April, the Lyrid meteor shower fills the sky with shooting stars. Here's how to see them.

Saturn: Giant Rings and a Moon Full of Space Lakes

Saturn is the sixth planet from the sun and the second largest planet in the solar system. It has an amazing ring system and 82 moons! And did we mention that it's an oblong world that appears squished looking?

New Solar Orbiter Will Get the First Glimpse of the Sun's Poles

NASA and the European Space Agency's new Solar Orbiter will travel as close as 26 million miles to the sun to get the first glimpses of its north and south poles.

Neptune: An Ice Giant With Supersonic Winds

Neptune is the eighth planet from the sun, and one of the coldest. It also has supersonic winds that are the fastest in the solar system.

How to See the Spectacular Geminid Meteor Shower

The Geminid meteor shower is one of the year's stronger displays in terms of number and size of meteors. When's the best time to see it?

Venus: Earth's Blazing-hot and Bizarre Twin

The atmospheric pressure is crushingly extreme on Venus, and lead would melt into a puddle on its surface. But as hellish as this place sounds, it actually has a lot in common with Earth.

Jupiter: Anatomy of a Gas Giant

Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system. Big as it is though, next to the sun, Jupiter looks puny.

Is Planet Nine Actually a Primordial Black Hole?

As the search for Planet Nine wears on, and astronomers have yet to get so much as a glimpse of it, researchers are pondering what else the object might be.

Confirmed: Comet Borisov Is Another Interstellar Visitor

The galaxy has sent another tumbling chunk of frozen interstellar material our way.

It's Only a Rolling Rock on Mars (But I Like It)

NASA just named a rolling rock on Mars after — who else — the Rolling Stones.

Ploonets: When Moons Become Planets

Did you know that a moon can leave its orbit around a large planet and go out on its own?

Rare Asteroid Discovered With Fastest Orbit Around the Sun

Researchers at the Zwicky Transient Facility have found an asteroid in Earth's orbit. And this one has the shortest year yet.

Why Does Jupiter Have 79 Moons When Earth Just Has One?

Scientists recently found 12 more moons revolving around Jupiter, bringing its total to 79. Why does Jupiter have so many darn moons? Is there any advantage to that?

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