The 8 Planets: A Series

The Solar System

When you look at the sky on a clear night, what do you see? Stars twinkling, constellations rising, or perhaps a cow jumping over the full Moon? We can clearly see stars light years away, yet through even a telescope stars are only pinpoints of light. But is every bright point of light a star?

Some of the bright pinpoints of lights we see are actually the planets of our solar system. While we may only see 1 or 2 planets with the naked eye, we may observe the distinct features of planets through a telescope. The reddish coloration of Mars. The rings of Saturn. Jupiter’s four biggest moons Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. But how can you tell whether they are planets or stars? Stars twinkle. Planets do not because they reflect sunlight. Most planets appear brighter than stars. Or… you could whip out your handy-dandy Google Sky Map app or any other sky map app!

That we are looking at the same sky our ancestors did over the last thousands of years is spectacular. Though pollution many have obscured some objects from our view, the sky has changed very little. From a dark area, we can still see what the hunter-gatherers saw!

To the observer, the local objects like the planets are intermixed among the infinite stars. But what mysteries are the eight planets hiding? How is each planet unique? How many moons does each planet have? What are their histories? I hope to explore the planets from every angle, for these planets are our home (Earth) and our neighbors (all planets except Earth). Eight posts in the near future will be dedicated to the eight planets. Each planet will be explained and unraveled. Let the journey through the solar system begin!

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