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 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.

By Mark Mancini

Saturn is the sixth planet from the sun and the second-largest planet in the solar system. This gas giant has more rings and moons than any other planet.

By Mark Mancini

Some of the most interesting objects in our solar system are also the smallest or largest. In addition to the sun, planets, and moons, our solar system has a variety of small objects such as asteroids, comets, stars, meteors, and moons. These have affected what has happened on Earth in many ways.


Even though it's tiny compared to the rest of the universe, Earth is a complex planet that, so far, is the only one we know of that sustains life.

By Kathryn Whitbourne & Mark Mancini

Pluto is relatively round and orbits the Sun. So, why doesn't it qualify as a planet?

By Patrick J. Kiger & Kathryn Whitbourne

When you think about massive, mysterious cosmic bodies like accretion disks, the water swirling around your bathtub probably isn't the first thing to come to mind. But hey, physics works the same magic on all scales.

By Kate Kershner

Leash your cheetah, buckle your seatbelt and tell Usain Bolt to take a knee. We're about to power through some of the speediest stuff this universe – both in the real world and in fiction – has to offer.

By Melanie Radzicki McManus & Kate Kershner


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?

By Craig Freudenrich, Ph.D.

Asteroid belts aren't quite the dense fields of gigantic spinning rocks that you may have seen in a "Star Wars" film, but they're still fascinating. In fact, the main asteroid belt may tell us how our entire solar system came into existence.

By John Fuller

You've probably heard that staring at the sun is bad — even a few seconds can damage your eyes. But what if you looked at a solar eclipse?

By Katherine Neer & Yves Jeffcoat

A ball of fire blazed through southern Peru and left a huge crater -- and then villagers started getting sick. Early reports said the groundwater boiled and the air filled with sulfur. What happened?

By Jacob Silverman


A lunar land rush is the most likely thing in the world (or, rather, out of it). As private companies gaze spaceward with dollar signs in their eyes, it's time to start settling some questions about space ownership, use and management.

By Nicholas Gerbis

The four Jovian planets are officially designated as gas (and/or ice) giants. Which planets are they and what makes them so unique?

By Contributors

Terrestrial planets include the four closest to our sun, including Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. What else makes these celestial bodies terrestrial planets?

By Mitch Ryan

Move over Saturn. There are other planets in the solar system surrounded by ring systems.

By Mitch Ryan


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

By Jesslyn Shields & Yara Simón

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

By Patrick J. Kiger

Check out this video of what astronauts in space see as the shadow of the moon crosses our planet.

By Christopher Hassiotis

And don't worry. Even if NASA misses, we'll be fine.

By Ian O'Neill, Ph.D.


Every autumn, Earth passes through a stream of debris left by Halley's comet, resulting in some beautiful nighttime meteor showers called the Orionids. Here's what to watch for.

By Patrick J. Kiger

Everyone's heard of the blue moon and the harvest moon, but every other full moon of the year has a name, too. What are their names, and when do these moons occur?

By Nathan Chandler

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

By Ian O'Neill, Ph.D.


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

By Patrick J. Kiger

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.

By Ian O'Neill, Ph.D.