Our planet, Earth, is one of eight planets orbiting the fiery ball of gases and we know as the Sun.
The first four planets – Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars - are ‘terrestrial planets’ primarily composed of rock and other solid material, while the ‘Jovian planets’ – Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune – are made of all sorts of swirling gases. Separating the terrestrial and Jovian planets is a ring of rocky debris called the asteroid belt. Several other objects orbit our star. Asteroids, for example, vary wildly in size and composition. They might be as tiny as a smartphone or be as big as a skyscraper. Some of these rocky bodies can grow bigger than our Moon, in which case they might be classified as dwarf planets. Comets are another striking feature of our solar system. As they’re made of dirt, water ice, or other frozen gases such as carbon dioxide and ammonia, comets that fly near to the Sun form dazzlingly bright tails as their bodies evaporate. Many comets have very long, elliptical orbits that can send them into the outskirts of the solar system before returning near Earth. Feel free to consult our updated solar system diagram to help you visualize the various celestial bodies and features as they orbit around the Sun.