Solar System 02
The Earth spins round on its axis once in 24 hours.

Solar System 02

This KS3 Science quiz takes a further look at the Solar System. The principal component of the Solar System is the Sun. The Sun is our nearest star and is almost 1.4 million kilometres in diameter. It contains 99.86 percent of the System's known mass and its gravity keeps all the planets, asteroids (minor planets) and comets in orbit.

The orbits of planets are nearly circular but the orbits of minor planets and comets can be very oval in shape. The planets have gravitational fields too and most of them have attracted smaller satellites which orbit the planet and not the Sun. We often refer to these natural satellites as moons (or Moon with a capital M in the case of the Earth). As the Earth moves along its orbit, the Sun seems to move relative to the horizon.

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When Britain is experiencing winter, the Earth is in fact closer to the Sun than in summer, but the Sun appears low in the sky, shadows are longer and there are more hours of darkness than daylight. The Earth also spins on its axis once every 24 hours. This means that the Sun appears to move across the sky every day. Before the 17th century, people thought that the Earth was the centre of everything and that it was the Sun and stars that were moving. They invented many weird and wonderful explanations such as the Sun, stars and planets being fixed to 'crystal spheres' and some of the ancient civilisations thought that it was a new and different Sun that rose every day!

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  1. In which of the following is GPS (global positioning system) NOT used?
    GPS works from artificial satellites. These are placed at a distance from the Earth that allows them to orbit once every 24 hours, so they remain over the same point on the surface of the Earth all the time
  2. The Earth spins round on its axis .......
    This gives us day and night
  3. The nearest date to the shortest daylight hours in Britain is .......
    This is known as the winter solstice
  4. Which one of the following is NOT true during summer?
    When the Sun is higher in the sky the shadows are shorter
  5. The Moon completes one orbit of the Earth every .......
    The Moon also spins on its axis once every 28 days, so we always see the same part of the Moon facing the Earth
  6. The shape of the path of a planet moving round the Sun is .......
    An ellipse is a 'squashed' circle. The orbits of most of the planets are not far off from being circular
  7. Which one of the following is FALSE?
    In summer the Sun's rays are concentrated over a small area, which is one reason why it is warmer
  8. In the northern hemisphere, the Sun appears to move across the sky from .......
    The Sun does not move, it is the Earth spinning on its axis that makes it seem like it does
  9. For someone in the Southern hemisphere, the nearest date for midwinter is .......
    It is the opposite way round to the southern hemisphere - when we are having winter, they are having summer
  10. Which of the following is FALSE?
    The Moon reflects light from the Sun

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