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Our Solar System
Francine Campogni
How Big is Big?
Planet Size
The “nine” planets
How Big is the Sun?
The Milky Way
• Our solar system
may seem big to
us. But it is only
a tiny part of a
huge galaxy - the
Milky Way. The
Milky Way Galaxy
is a tiny part of
the universe.
Click on galaxy
The Milky Way is made of…
• Gas
• Dust
• Stars (over 200 billion in the Milky Way
• So far, astronomers have found about 70 solar
systems and are discovering new ones every year.
Given how many they have found in this
neighborhood of the Milky Way galaxy, scientists
estimate that there may be many billions of solar
systems in our galaxy.
The Sun
The Sun is personified in
many mythologies: the
Greeks called it Helios
and the Romans called it
Click on our star
In Roman mythology
Mercury is the god of
commerce, travel and
thievery, the Roman
counterpart of the
Greek god Hermes, the
messenger of the Gods.
The planet probably
received this name
because it moves so
quickly across the sky.
Click on the inner planet
Venus (Greek: Aphrodite;
Babylonian: Ishtar) is
the goddess of love and
beauty. The planet is so
named probably
because it is the
brightest of the planets
known to the ancients.
(With a few exceptions,
the surface features on
Venus are named for
female figures.)
Click on the inner planet
Earth is the only planet whose
English name does not
derive from Greek/Roman
mythology. The name
derives from Old English
and Germanic. There are, of
course, hundreds of other
names for the planet in other
languages. In Roman
Mythology, the goddess of
the Earth was Tellus - the
fertile soil (Greek: Gaia, terra
mater - Mother Earth).
Click on our home planet
The Moon
Called Luna by the
Romans, Selene and
Artemis by the
Greeks, and many
other names in
other mythologies.
Click on Earth’s satellite
Mars (Greek: Ares) is the god of
War. The planet probably got
this name due to its red
color; Mars is sometimes
referred to as the Red
Planet. (An interesting side
note: the Roman god Mars
was a god of agriculture
before becoming associated
with the Greek Ares; those in
favor of colonizing and
terraforming Mars may
prefer this symbolism.) The
name of the month March
derives from Mars.
Click on the inner planet
Year Giuseppe Piazzi
discovered the first asteroid,
Click on the rocky orbiter
• Jupiter (a.k.a. Jove;
Greek Zeus) was the
King of the Gods,
the ruler of Olympus
and the patron of
the Roman state.
Zeus was the son of
Cronus (Saturn).
Click on the outer planet
Click on the outer planet
In Roman mythology,
Saturn is the god of
agriculture. The
associated Greek
god, Cronus, was the
son of Uranus and
Gaia and the father of
Zeus (Jupiter).
Saturn is the root of
the English word
Uranus is the ancient
Greek deity of the
Heavens, the earliest
supreme god. Uranus
was the son and mate
of Gaia the father of
Cronus (Saturn) and of
the Cyclopes and Titans
(predecessors of the
Olympian gods).
Click on the outer planet
In Roman mythology
Neptune (Greek:
Poseidon) was the
god of the Sea.
Click on the outer planet
Comets occasionally appear in our
night skies. We see them as
bright—or faint—fuzzy balls of
light, with one or two long tails
streaming out. They look nothing
like stars, the moon, or any other
object we see in the sky. That is
because they really are quite
The comets we see, and the
trillions more we don’t, are part
of our own solar system. It is
mostly the force of our
Sun’s gravity that influences their
Click on the icy “stuff”
orbits. Comets are actually icy,
leftover chunks of the stuff that
formed our solar system four
and one-half billion years ago.
Historical Images
Click on the picture below to view some
historical images from NASA.
Watch video straight from NASA!