What is the Sun?

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The Sun and its different parts

The Sun and its different parts – http://www.8planets.co.uk

The Sun is a star and it is the centre of our Solar System.

The Sun is the largest body in the Solar System as it is 1,392,000 kilometres across. That means that the Sun is more than one million times larger than Earth.

This star has a very important role for our system. The Sun keeps all the planets together, including the Earth. Because it is bigger than all the other planets in our solar system, the Sun generates a huge gravitational pull. This pull keeps all the planets in their orbital paths. Without the pull, the planets would simply float off into space.

Our Sun is not unique in the universe. It is a common middle-sized yellow star. There are trillions of other stars in the universe just like it. And as our Sun, many of these stars have their own systems of planets, moons, asteroids, and comets.

The Sun is mainly made of chemical elements. Astronomers who have studied its composition have found 67 of them, but the most common ones are and helium. The Sun is also formed by other elements, called metals. The most abundant metals are oxygen, carbon, neon and iron

The photosphere is the name given to the surface of the sun. The surface temperature of the sun is 5500 degrees centigrade, which is relatively cool when we consider that the core of the sun heats up to 15,000,000 degrees centigrade, as it burns to create energy!

But remember; never look directly at the Sun with a telescope or binoculars. It is extremely dangerous and it can cause you eye problems.

Check out this video from the Space School about the Sun! http://youtu.be/SsoGeq4XcCk

Where are we in the Universe?

The Earth is located in the Solar System.

Diagram of the planets that form the Solar System

The Solar System is formed by the Sun, which is in the centre of it, and everything that travels around it.

An easy way to understand this idea is, to think of the Universe as it is a city; the Solar System would be your neighbour and the Earth, our home. Astronomers think the solar system is more than 4 billion years old.

Our solar neighbourhood is formed by eight planets, 140 moons, asteroids, comets, minor planets, and many other objects.

The four planets closest to the Sun—Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars—are called the terrestrial planets because they have solid rocky surfaces. The four large planets beyond Mars—Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune—are called gas giants.

The furthest planet is over 4 billion kilometres away from the earth. You can see all of the 8 planets in the sky at night using a telescope or binoculars.

For many thousands of years, humanity did not recognize the existence of the Solar System. People believed that the Earth was the center of the Universe and that the rest of the objects surrounded it. In the 16th, Nicolaus Copernicus was the first to develop a mathematical system that considered the Sun as the center. Later on, in the 17th century, Galileo GalileiJohannes Kepler and Isaac Newton, took his idea further and confirmed that the Earth moves around the Sun, and so do the other planets.