Bodies and Planets Found in Our Whole Solar System
Our solar system is a nine planet system and is part of the Milky Way Galaxy – that oddly named galaxy. There is a bit of controversy around exactly how many planets there are in the solar system because some astronomers don’t count lowly Pluto. Hey, in my mind, if your big enough to be noticed from Earth, you should be counted!
The solar system includes the Sun, or Sol as it is known, and all the stuff that hangs around it. Why does stuff hang around the sun? Gravity! One of those forces that are part of our universe. The nine planets that make up the solar system include, in order from closest to the Sun to farthest out, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. There is an asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter that some folks speculate is either a planet that never formed or a planet that did form, but was destroyed by some unknown mechanism – perhaps the tidal forces caused by Jupiter which is HUGE! Actually, Jupiter is so big, that it could have been a small star!
Our sun is not special. It is a main sequence G2 star and it contains almost all the known mass of the solar system – over 99%. It is located about 26,000 light years from the center of our galaxy and it takes about 225 million years to orbit once around the center of the galaxy. Since we are so far out from the center, there are not many other stars close to us. In fact the closest star is Proxima Centauri which is about 4.2 light years away. Wouldn’t it be cooler if we were closer to the center of the Milky Way so that the night sky would glow with the light of millions of other suns?