The Solar System

Our planet, Earth, is part of the SOLAR SYSTEM.

The Solar System contains the Sun and 9 planets.

Several of the planets have moons.

The planets are in orbit around the sun.

This means that they travel in a curved path around the sun

The Moon goes around the Earth and the Earth goes around the Sun


The curved path taken by a planet as it moves is called its orbit

The blue line shows the orbit of the moon around the Earth

The red line shows the orbit of the Earth as it travels around the Sun

The Earth takes 365 days to travel around the Sun (1 year)

The Moon takes 28 days to travel around the Earth (1 lunar month)


The Year

The length of time it takes a planet to go around the Sun is called a YEAR.

On Earth a year = 365 days, but it is not the same for all the planets.

Usually the further a planet is away from the sun the longer the year is.

Diagram of our Solar System with the planets arranged in order



Day and Night

The Earth spins on an imaginary line called its axis.

The spin of the Earth causes day and night as only one side of the Earth can be lit at once.

The length of time to spin once on its axis is called a day.
On Earth 1 day = 24 hours

As the Earth spins different parts of it get lit up by the Sun

In this photograph is it day or night in England?


As the Sun moves across the sky it causes shadows

Diagram showing shadows produced by the sun shining on a stick in the ground.

ks2_space_clip_image004_0000 ks2_space_clip_image004_0003 ks2_space_clip_image004_0004
The Sun rises in the East

At mid-day, when the Sun is highest, the shadow is shortest

Shadows are shorter in summer than in winter because the sun is higher in the sky

The sun sets in the west.
Looking south

The Moon

Moon Fact File

The Moon is smaller than the Earth (about 6 times smaller)

The Moon is a natural satellite of the Earth

The Moon is is in orbit around the Earth

The Moon takes 28 days to complete one orbit

We see the moon because it reflects light from the Sun

Phases of the Moon

We see the moon different shapes depanding on which side is lit.

The different shapes are called the phases of the moon

moon1 This is a photograph of the moon with the sun shining from the right


Further research


The solar system :NASA guide to the Solar System

The Planets : NASA guide to the Planets

Visit The National Schools Observatory website.
This is a really interesting website offering lots of information and things to do.

Powers of Ten – Soar through space starting at 10 million light years away from the Milky Way down through to a single proton in Florida. Give it a few seconds to load.

Cut out and make a scale solar system!
Double click on the image to load it full size.
It will print out A4 size so may take a few moments to download