Planets

A:

The next planetary alignment will not occur until the year 2854. According to astronomers, such alignment typically occurs every 1500 years, with the last phenomenon appearing in 561 B.C.

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  • How many moons does Mars have?

    Q: How many moons does Mars have?

    A: Mars has two moons: Phobos and Deimos. Both moons are irregularly shaped and very small in size compared to the Earth’s moon. Phobos is the larger of the two, with an average radius of 6.9 miles; Deimos has an average radius of only 3.8 miles.
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  • Who invented the solar system?

    Q: Who invented the solar system?

    A: The solar system was formed from a massive gas cloud, and layouts were observed and refined beginning in the sixth century B.C.E. by early Greek astronomers. Nicholas Copernicus and Galileo Galilei continued observing the solar system well into the Renaissance era, according to About.com.
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  • How is Earth different from other planets?

    Q: How is Earth different from other planets?

    A: Earth is unique in that scientists have found the planet to be the only one to have liquid water on its surface, intelligent life forms living on it, a moon that helps regulate surface temperatures, an atmosphere with 21 percent oxygen and plate tectonics, according to Space.com. Scientists believe Earth exists in a "Goldilocks zone" where conditions are just right to support life.
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  • When can Jupiter be seen at night?

    Q: When can Jupiter be seen at night?

    A: Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, is most visible when it reaches opposition to the sun every 398.9 days on average. In March 2014, the planet was located in the Gemini constellation, making it appear bright against the night sky.
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  • How far away is Saturn from the sun?

    Q: How far away is Saturn from the sun?

    A: Saturn is an average of 886 million miles from the sun, which puts it about 9.5 times farther away from the sun than the Earth. The exact distance from Saturn to the sun varies based on Saturn's location along its elliptical orbit.
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  • What are the sizes of the nine planets?

    Q: What are the sizes of the nine planets?

    A: The nine planets in the solar system range in size from approximately 3,000 to 140,000 kilometers in diameter. Ranked from smallest to largest the planets are Pluto, Mercury, Mars, Venus, Earth, Neptune, Uranus, Saturn and Jupiter.
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  • Where did Neptune get its name?

    Q: Where did Neptune get its name?

    A: Shortly after its discovery, Neptune was referred to as "the planet exterior to Uranus." It was also called "Le Verrier's Planet" after one of the men who discovered it, Urbain Le Verrier. He shares the credit with one other man, John Couch Adams. Verrier named the planet Neptune.
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  • What are some interesting or unique features of Neptune?

    Q: What are some interesting or unique features of Neptune?

    A: Neptune was the first planet to have its existence predicted by mathematical calculations before it was seen through a telescope. According to Space, wind speeds on Neptune can reach up to 1,500 miles per hour; the fastest detected in the solar system as of 2014. This incredibly high wind speed was recorded by Voyager 2 in 1989 and was linked to a storm larger than planet Earth.
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  • What is Venus' nickname?

    Q: What is Venus' nickname?

    A: The planet Venus' nicknames are the Morning Star and the Evening Star. From Earth, the planet sometimes looks like a bight star in the morning and the evening skies.
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  • Is Saturn hot or cold?

    Q: Is Saturn hot or cold?

    A: Saturn is a mostly cold planet, with areas that reach temperatures as low as minus 270 F. There are some regions of the planet that feature temperatures of 80 F, but these remain unfriendly, having an extremely high atmospheric pressure.
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  • Can Venus be seen from Earth?

    Q: Can Venus be seen from Earth?

    A: For most of the year, Venus is visible to the naked eye. The exception to this is when Venus is too close to the sun to be observed.
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  • Why is Mars called "the Red Planet"?

    Q: Why is Mars called "the Red Planet"?

    A: Mars has been given the moniker "the Red Planet" because it has a bright red color. This reddish colors probably marks the areas that are like deserts on the Martian landscape; the grayish areas are the liquid parts.
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  • What are the special features of Mars?

    Q: What are the special features of Mars?

    A: Mars has a number of interesting features that make it one of the most studied planets in the solar system. One of the most often noted features of Mars is its reddish color, which earned it the nickname the Red Planet. The reddish hue results from iron oxide, or rust, in the soil.
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  • What are planets made of?

    Q: What are planets made of?

    A: The inner planets, Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars, are made up of silicate rock and heavy metals such as iron and nickel, whereas the outer planets, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, are made up mostly of gases, according to Universe Today. The outer planets are subdivided into gas giants, comprised mostly of hydrogen and helium, and ice giants, comprised mostly of methane, ammonia and water.
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  • How many satellites does Mercury have?

    Q: How many satellites does Mercury have?

    A: The planet Mercury does not have any known moons (natural satellites) as of 2014. There has been one known artificial satellite orbiting Mercury, known as Messenger.
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  • What is the hottest planet in the solar system?

    Q: What is the hottest planet in the solar system?

    A: Venus, the second planet from the sun, is the hottest planet in the solar system, with surface temperatures of around 864 degrees Fahrenheit, and there is no difference between day and night temperatures on Venus, so there is no time of day where temperatures tend to dip. This high temperature, which is hot enough to melt tin and lead, is due in part to the planet's proximity to the sun, though Venus manages to be much hotter than Mercury, which is the closest planet to the sun. Venus' extreme heat can be attributed mostly to its extremely thick atmosphere, which is 93 times thicker than Earth's atmosphere and composed mainly of carbon dioxide.
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  • What kind of atmosphere does Neptune have?

    Q: What kind of atmosphere does Neptune have?

    A: Neptune's atmosphere is similar to the atmospheres of other large planets and contains helium and hydrogen. It also has trace amounts of water, ammonia, methane and other ices.
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  • What is a rhyme to remember the planets?

    Q: What is a rhyme to remember the planets?

    A: One rhyme to remember the planets is "Amazing Mercury is closest to the Sun, Hot, hot Venus is the second one, Earth comes third; it’s not too hot, Freezing Mars awaits an astronaut, Jupiter is bigger than all the rest, Sixth comes Saturn, its rings look best, Uranus and Neptune are big gas balls, Tiny Pluto is the last planet of all." As well as using rhymes to remember the order of the planets, there are also a good selection of mnemonics available.
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  • What is the weather on Saturn?

    Q: What is the weather on Saturn?

    A: With an average temperature of minus 288 degrees Fahrenheit and frequent, powerful storms throughout the planet, Saturn is not hospitable to life. Unlike most planets in the Milky Way, Saturn derives its heat from its core rather than from the Sun. The planet is known as a gas giant; it is primarily composed of gases, including hydrogen and molecular helium.
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  • What color is Saturn?

    Q: What color is Saturn?

    A: Saturn is described as having a yellowish-brown color. This is due to the presence of trace amounts of ammonia, hydrocarbons, water vapor and phosphine in its atmosphere.
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  • Which two planets are the only ones in the solar system to have no moons?

    Q: Which two planets are the only ones in the solar system to have no moons?

    A: Mercury and Venus are the two planets in the solar system without any moons. This is likely due to the close proximity of both planets to the sun.
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