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Alder Planetarium

Prof. Abraham Lincoln

Solar System

The Planets

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Read this lesson on the planets and then answer the following questions.

THE SOLAR SYSTEM Planetary details

The most important members of the sun's family are the planets, of which the Earth is one. Some of them are attended by secondary bodies known as satellites; we have one natural satellite, the moon, Jupiter has over a dozen.

Also moving around the Sun are various bodies of lesser importance such as comets and asteroids.

By eye the planets in the night sky look starlike, they appear as points of light, but they have no light of their own as real stars do. Instead, they reflect the light of the nearest star, our Sun. Viewed through a telescope the planets appear as they really are, as spherical bodies similar in shape as our Earth.

The nine planets all orbit the Sun in elliptical paths of varying distances.

1. In addition to the planets, what other bodies also circle the Sun?

  1. Moons & asteroids.
  2. Comets & asteroids.
  3. Moons & comets.
  4. Stars & comets.
  5. Stars & asteroids.

2. Planets reflect the light of the Sun, they do not produce their own light.

  1. True
  2. False


What is the significance of the fact that the planetary orbits are elliptical rather than circular on the orbital speed of the planets?

Also, where is the Sun located in relation to the ellipse?

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