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fun facts

Outer Planets

gas giant planets

In the outer Solar System are the four remaining planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Made primarily of gasses these planets are called gas giants. Gas giants are massive and consist of a thick atmosphere and a dense molten core. Because the gas giants aren't made of rock and solid matter they don't have solid surfaces like the terrestrial planets. Therefore landing on one would be impossible.


The largest planet in the Solar System and the fifth form the Sun is Jupiter. It's made up primarily of hydrogen and helium with a rocky core of heavier elements. Jupiter's colorful cloud formations are created by high-speed jet streams that result in turbulence and storms. The giant red spot visible on Jupiter's surface is a giant storm that has been going on for a least 300 years! Of Jupiter's many moons 4 of them are planet sized.


The sixth planet from the sun us Saturn. Like Jupiter it is mainly composed of hydrogen and helium. The planet's yellow and gold banding comes from high winds in it's atmosphere and rising heat. However, Saturns most notable feature is its ring system. It's nine rings consist mostly of ice particles and smaller amounts of rocky debris and dust. There are 52 moons that orbit Saturn. It's largest moon is Titan which is the second largest moon in the Solar System and the only one with a significant atmosphere.


Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun and gets it's blue green color from methane gas. Unlike the other planets Uranus spins on it's side. It does this because it is believed that a very large object smashed into it early in its existence. Like Jupiter and Saturn, Uranus is made up of mainly hydrogen and helium but contains more ice so it is also know as an "ice giant". Uranus also has a ring system like Saturn but it doesn't stretch out as far and is composed of dust and rocks.


Neptune is the outermost planet from the Sun and is the first planet to be discovered through mathimatical predictions instead of direct observation. Like Uranus it is an "ice giant" and has a blue green color that comes from methane gas in it's atmosphere. When the spacecraft Voyager 2 visited Neptune in 1989 it took picturs that revealed a giant storm like Jupiter's. This storm was called the "Great Dark Spot" because it appears as a dark oval on it's surface. More recent observations of Neptune from the Hubble telescope show no sign of the Great Dark Spot.

Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)