Solar System 01
The largest planet in our solar system is Jupiter.

Solar System 01

Revise what you know about stars and planets. Why are the planets visible?

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Let's take a look at the solar system in this KS3 Science quiz. When you look up at the sky on a clear night, you can see thousands of stars. Humans have been around for many thousands of years but it is only in the last few hundred years that we have started to understand about the universe in which we live.

Ancient civilisations noticed that there were five brighter 'stars' that moved around the sky in a strange way but had no idea about why they behaved like that. We now know these are the planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. They are much closer to us than the stars and, like the Earth, they orbit our Sun. They are visible only because they reflect the Sun's light.

When Galileo first pointed the newly-invented telescope at the sky, he noticed that one of these had moons orbiting it (Jupiter).

This backed up the theory that the Earth wasn't actually the centre of the universe and that the Earth could be orbiting the Sun. Saying such a thing in the 1600s was heresy but, luckily for Galileo, he was too important a figure to be murdered by the Catholic Church so they placed him under house arrest instead. He also noticed 'handles' on the planet Saturn - we now realise that these are rings made from rocks, icy blocks and dust. The spacecraft Cassini was sent to study Saturn and was named after the seventeenth century Italian astronomer, Giovanni Cassini, who discovered the four main moons of Saturn and a gap in the rings.

Which is the largest planet in our solar system?
More than 1,300 Earths could fit inside it!
We can sometimes see some of the planets because .......
they are a source of light
they are luminous
they reflect light from the Moon
they reflect light from the Sun
They are sometimes out of sight because they are between the Earth and the Sun or on the opposite side of the Sun to Earth
The time it takes the Earth to orbit the Sun is called .......
28 days
a month
a year
10 years
An orbit round the Sun is a path round the Sun
Which one do artificial satellites NOT do?
Collect information
Remain stationary
Send TV broadcasts
Take photographs
They have to keep moving otherwise they would simply fall back down towards the surface of the Earth and burn up like a meteor as they entered the atmosphere
The centre of our solar system is .......
the Earth
the Moon
the Sun
The temperature on the surface of the Sun is about 5,500°C
Which was the first planet known to have rings?
The particles that make up Saturn’s rings range in size from smaller than a grain of sand to as large as a mountain
What is our solar system a part of?
Milky Way
The Milky Way is the name given to the galaxy of stars in which the Sun is situated. There are many other galaxies in the universe, some contain more stars than ours and some are smaller
How many planets are there in our solar system?
Some scientists think that Pluto is a planet, however it was reclassified as a dwarf planet in 2005
A satellite is .......
a large object in orbit round a smaller object
a large object in space
a small object in orbit round a larger object
a small object in space
The Moon is a satellite of the Earth
How many stars are there in our galaxy?
They are held in place by gravity and the whole galaxy is slowly rotating because the stars are all orbiting the centre of mass. It takes the Sun about 220 million years to complete one orbit
You can find more about this topic by visiting BBC Bitesize – Features of our solar system

Author:  Sue Davison

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