In this week’s survey we decided to find out which planet in our solar system is the most loved by children. You can see the result in the pie chart on the right – obviously, we did not include Earth as one of the choices. To have our home planet on the list would have skewed the results a little!
So, what did we find out? Well, we discovered that one quarter of under 18s say Mars is their favourite planet, with the four gas giants, Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune not too far behind. Our closest neighbour, Venus, got only 8% of the votes, while poor old mercury received just 6%.
Perhaps it’s not surprising that Mars is the world which fascinates children the most. For hundreds of years humans have imagined alien life living on Mars. It’s the planet, besides Earth, most likely to be able to support life and there have been dozens of mission to Mars. There are even planning to send humans there by the year 2033.
Saturn came second in our survey. It is the most distant world that is visible from earth with the naked eye and is named after the father of Jupiter. Its most famous feature is undoubtedly its system of rings. These are made of ice and rock and are huge. They have a diameter 200 times that of Saturn itself, but they are only 10 metres thick. Despite their size, we knew nothing of Saturn’s rings until they were seen by Galileo in 1610.
Jupiter, largest of the planets, was the third most popular with children. It is suitably named, taking its title from the king of the Roman pantheon (known to the Greeks as Zeus). Jupiter is so large, with a diameter just shy of 140,000 km, that you could fit everything in our solar system (apart from the Sun) inside it with room to spare. Its most famous feature is its Great Red Spot. This is actually as storm that has lasted at least 300 years and is three times the size of the Earth!
Just as Saturn is the father of Jupiter, Uranus, fourth most popular in our survey, is the father of Saturn. It’s the third largest planet in the solar system, and it has its own rings, like Saturn. However, Uranus is tilted on its side, so the rings appear like a circle around the planet when seen from earth. This gives it the appearance of a bull’s eye on a dartboard. It’s also the windiest world, where airstreams can reach speeds in excess of 900 km/h.
Neptune came fifth in our poll. Despite its nickname, and the fact that is named after the Roman god of the sea, Neptune has no liquid water. It is so far from the Sun that its average temperature is minus 200 degrees Celsius. So why is it known as the watery planet? Well, the methane in Neptune’s upper atmosphere absorbs the red light which hits it, and it reflects the blue, giving it a deep blue colour, similar to the colour of our own seas.
Way back in sixth place was Venus, one of the brightest objects in our skies. That’s because it is one of the closest. Most easily visible in the early morning or evening, it has gained the nicknames the morning star and the evening star. Venus takes its name from the Roman goddess of love, but there is little love to be found there. Temperatures are about 460 degrees Celsius and any astronaut who visited would be burned to a crisp in moments, and it also has clouds which rain sulfuric acid!
The final place in our survey went to Mercury, the smallest planet and also the one closest to the Sun. It is named after th Roman messenger to the gods, most likely because of its apparent speed around the Sun. It completes an orbit in just 88 days, making its years about the same length as one season on Earth.
Here are the results from 4,748 children who answered our question "Which planet in our solar system is your favourite?". The survey was conducted in the week ending May 24th, 2020.
|Planet||Percentage of Respondents|