It's British Science Week and to celebrate we've come up with our top six solar system facts which are perfect for sharing with your pupils - and don't forget if you are interested in hosting a space-themed workshop at your school, please get in touch as we have lots of different sessions on offer!
The Sun is at the centre of our universe. It’s actually around 93 million miles away from Earth. Now when you consider that the Moon is ‘only’ around 250 thousand miles away and looks about the same size as the Sun when you look up to the sky, then we learn a little bit about how big our Solar System’s Star actually is.
While we’re talking about the Sun. It may be large, but it is also MASSIVE (a dense body of tightly compacted particles). In fact, if you were to take all of the planets, dwarf planets, moons, comets, meteorites, asteroids & space dust and squash them all together along with the Sun. Our Star would still make up 99.8% of all the mass in the solar system
There are very few places in the solar system (that we know of) that can sustain life. Guess where one place is? That’s right our planet Earth. Planet Earth exists in what scientists call the Goldilocks Zone in relation to its star. Meaning, like the fairy tale, the planet is a size and distance from the sun which is: “not too hot/big”, “not too cold/small” but “juuuuust right”. And that’s why we’re here today.
Jupiter is an astonishing size and mass. In fact it’s such a massive ball of gas that scientists think it very nearly became a star. Boy are we glad it didn’t - Jupiter plays a vital role in keeping Earth safe from meteor strikes by pulling them off course with its huge gravitational force.
We used to think we were at the centre of the universe. We would have to try hard to be more wrong. As we learn more and more about our place in the vastness of existence, it turns out we are orbiting an average star, at the far left corner of a pretty average sized galaxy, amongst an estimated 7 trillion galaxies. But in our solar system, galaxy and universe there is one thing that so far is a unique and special occurrence: You. You and the rest of the human race (as far as we know) are the only life in the universe to have ever asked the question: “Why?”. And that question so far has taken humans all the way to the moon, sent probes to every planet and to the far reaches of the solar system and helped us discover what was happening as little as a hundredth of a billionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang.
There have been many theories about why our moon exists and for many thousands of years the moon was even worshipped as was the sun. The latest thinking is that there was another planet in our solar system about the size of Mars and it collided with Earth causing an almighty smash, the likes of which we could never imagine. The remaining pieces orbited the Earth and gradually coalesced into what is now the moon. Lucky for us, because through it’s gravitational effect, the Moon now helps to regulate the spinning of the Earth on its axis and causes the tides of the ocean.
Find out more about our Space Week School workshops here
Find out more about our Primary Science Workshops here
Read about our new space workshops Journeys into Space here
Find out more about British Science Week here