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Planets - Classifying
We can differentiate the planets several ways:
By composition the planets are divided into:
Terrestrial – Rocky planets including Mercury, Venus,
Earth, Mars. Composed mainly of rock and metal. Have
high densities, slow rotation and solid surfaces
Jovian – Gas planets composed mainly of hydrogen and
helium. Tend to have low densities, rapid rotation and
deep atmospheres.
Pluto belongs to neither group. It is mainly composed of
By position relative to the Sun:
Inner – Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars
• Outer – Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto
The asteroid belt forms the boundary between the inner
and outer solar system.
By position relative to the Earth:
Inferior – Mercury and Venus (closer to Sun than Earth)
Superior – Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and
Inferior planets show phases like the moon when viewed from
Earth, while the superior planets do not.