SOLAR SYSTEM
Teacher Outline
* Teacher Outline included in Teacher Guide Download

I. What are the components of our Solar System?

  1. Structure of Sun - average star with ta diameter of 1.35 million km or 409 Earthís; density is 1/4 that of the Earth
  1. Chromosphere - color sphere; the outermost area a few thousand km thick which is obserable for a few moments during a solar eclipse; incandescent gasses under low pressure, mainly hydrogen and helium
      
  2. Photosphere - sphere of light, outer surface; layer of incandescent gas about 300 km, numersou small bright markings called granules surrounded by dark regions (caused by convection); Composed of 90% hydrogen 10% helium
      
  3. Helium Core
  1. Planets - Nine planets with two major constituents including terrestrial (rock) which includes Mercury, Venus, Mars, Earth, and Pluto and gas giants including Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune
  1. Terrestrial planets - composed of rock, so if you landed a spacecraft you can touch the ground
      
  2. Gas planets - surface is composed of gases that cannot support a spacecraft, would fall endlessly until you hit a core which may be composed of rock, unknown at this time
      
  3. Discovery difficult, but early astronomers note that a few bright "stars" didnít keep their place and moved more than the other stars, these planets were called the "wanderers"
  1. Greeks associated these with gods; Mercury was fleet footed, fastest moving planet; Venus was goddess of love, shining brightly before sunrise or sunset; Mars was god of war, glowing red and majestically high in the sky; Jupiter was kind of gods was largest and slow moving; Saturn was grandfather of gods, motions were the slowest
      
  2. With these 5 moving objects + moon and Sun, may account for the special regard for the number 7 and may be the beginning of the week
      
  3. Sunday = Sunís day; Monday = moon; Saturday = Saturnís Day; other days of week named for the Norse (Vikings) gods with Greek and Roman connection Tuesday is Tiw or Mars; Wed is for Woden or Mercury; Thursday is Thor or Jupiter, and Fri is Freya or Venus
  1. Meteorites and Shooting Stars - flash in the night time sky about 100 km into the heavens
  1. Cause is usually cosmic dust, weighing no more than 1 gram which entered into the upper atmosphere with velocity of dozens of kms/sec
      
  2. Larger particles can actually penetrate into the atmosphere, if they make it to Earth they are called meteorites; the larger the meteorite the greater the depth of penetration into the atmosphere
      
  3. Meteorite swarms - last large one was February, 1947 in eastern Sibera, total of 100 tons of meteorites fell
      
  4. Large impacts rare

II. Individual Planets and their families

  1. Mercury - terrestrial
  1. Smallest, swiftest, not much larger than Moon
  2. No atmosphere
  3. night temperature (-170 degrees centigrade); day temperature (+400 degrees centigrade); greatest temperature extreme of any planet
  4. Highly elliptical orbit
  5. Slow rotation, fast revolution
  1. Venus - terrestrial
  1. Thick atmosphere
  2. Size similar to Earth, gets closest to Earth
  3. Slowest rotation, only one clockwise
  4. Surface temperature +440 degrees centigrade, highest of all the planets
  1. Earth -terrestrial
  1. Atmosphere, highest temperature +50 degrees centigrade; lowest is -53 degrees centigrade)
  2. Rotates every 24 hour, revolves around Sun 365 days
  3. Volcanic eruptions
  4. Has water on the surface
  1. Mars - terrestrial
  1. Atmosphere only 1% as dense as Earth
  2. Smaller than Earth
  3. Lowest temperature is -127 degrees centigrade; highest is -29 degrees centigrade
  4. Ice caps on the poles
  5. Rotation similar to Earth
  1. Jupiter - gas giant
  1. Largest planet
  2. Rapid rotation, once every 10 hours
  3. Has rings
  4. Many satellites that are rock like, 16 moons
  5. Thick atmosphere, temperature about -150 degrees centigrade
  1. Saturn - gas giant
  1. Rotation about once every 10.5 hours
  2. Temperature high of -200 degrees centigrade
  3. Rings
  4. 20 moons
  5. Lowest density of any planet, no real surface, may have dense core, surrounded by liquid hydrogen in metallic form
  1. Uranus - gas giant
  1. High temperature of -214 degrees centigrade
  2. Rotation every 11 hours
  3. Rings
  4. 15 moons
  1. Neptune - gas giant
  1. Temperature high of -218 degrees centigrade
  2. 8 moons
  3. Has rings
  4. Rotates once every 16 hours
  1. Pluto - terrestrial
  1. Rotation once every 6.4 days
  2. Orbit high eccentric
  3. Only 1 moon
  4. High temperature of maybe -210 degrees centigrade
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