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Discovery Magazine 11/1/2016

Our Solar System

How often do we talk about the bigger picture of where we live? We regularly chat about living on a particular street of one town in one state in the United States. But how much do we discuss the amazing fact that we live on the third planet from the Sun? Probably not enough. In fact, it might surprise you to learn that there are many people who don’t even know that Earth is the third planet from the Sun, much less that Mercury is the first or that Mars is the fourth.

Earth is located in what is known as a solar system. A solar system is made up of a group of celestial bodies (such as planets, moons, asteroids, and comets) that orbit a star. Our solar system includes a star known as the Sun, and eight planets that orbit it. Those eight planets (in order of their nearness to the Sun) are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Jupiter is the largest of all of the planets in our solar system, while Mercury is the smallest.

Pluto used to be the smallest planet in our solar system, but a few years ago scientists adjusted the definition of the term “planet.” Ever since then, Pluto has been classified as a “dwarf planet” and is no longer considered one of the (regular) planets in our solar system.

Earth is the fifth largest planet in our solar system and is located about 93 million miles away from the Sun—just the right distance for life to flourish on Earth. It travels around the Sun—all 600 million miles—once every year. It has done this ever since God created the Sun on day four of Creation. Earth follows the specific path that God made for it. This oval-shaped path was so precisely designed by God that if our planet veered from it just one-tenth of an inch every 18 miles, instead of one-ninth of an inch, life could not exist on Earth.

But life does exist on Earth. It exists because God created our planet for the purpose of being inhabited by a variety of living things (Isaiah 45:18)—not the least of which are human beings, who have come to know the Creator of our solar system (and the entire Universe), because “the heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1).

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*Please keep in mind that Discovery articles are written for 3rd-6th graders.

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