About 200 hundred years ago a German explorer discovered what appearred to be a gap in the Solar System. He thought there was too much space between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Other astronomers began to search the space. This led to the discovery of thousands of planets. They were called Asteroids which means starlike bodies. this is not true because they are really tiny planets. They were first namedafter Gods and Godesses of ancient Greece and Rome. But they became so numerous that astronomers began to name them after their wives and children and pets. This is why they have names like Jenny and Margo. Most of the asteroids stay between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Some take 1˝ years to orbit the sun. Others take six and others don't follow that path at all. ome asteroids may have collided with earth in the past, leaving craters or crashing into the ocean bed. The smallest known are the size of large rocks. Scientists now think that asteroids may have been part of an unformed planet.

Joseph Bannerton Age: 12.

The Solar System

The sun and it's family form our Solar System. The planets and their moons are members of the family. This includes the planets, satelites of the planets, asteriods, comets, Meteroids, interplanetary dust and gases, and other matter. A planet moves fastes when it is near to the sun. The sun is a star, a mass of hot gas. It is a very ordinary star, not espically large or bright. It looks much brighter than other stars only because it is so much closer to the Earth. The next nearst star is 250,00 times as far from earth as the sun is. The solar wind is a discovery to space age. Although the sun is not a very large it is larger than anything else in the solar system. solar means of the sun, and the sun is the heart of the solar system. The solar wind is called the corona. The planets that are in the solar system are: Mercury, Venus, the Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. Between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter there is a belt of tiny planets called asteriods, and they are very small. The largest is only 500 miles (800 kilometres in diameter.) Wide gaps of space seprate the orbits of the planets. The gaps grow bigger as you move outwards in the solar system , for example the Earth is the third planet out from the sun and Pluto is th ninth. Mercury is 36 million miles from the sun, and Plutois 4 Million miles from the sun.

Amanda Hopkins Age: 11


Mars is the fourth planet out from the sun. It takes 687 earth days to make one trip around the sun. It takes a little bit more than 24 hours to spin once on its axis. Being farther away from the sun, Mars receives less heat than the earth does. Mars has seasons like the earth because of the tilt on its axis. It is a rocky planet with a thin atmosphere. Its diameter is about half that of the earth. Mars has two moons. A telescope shows Mars as a fuzzy, reddish ball. There may be simple forms of hardy plant life on it. The reddish regions may be deserts. The polar caps are large, gleaming white areas. They grow in winter and shrink in summer. These polar caps may be a surface water on Mars. Space probes have shown that these are thousand of craters on Mars. The Martian atmosphere is made up chiefly of teo gases, Nitrogen and Carbon dioxide. Dark patches have been observed on Mars. these patches change throughout the Martian years. This may be proof that there is plant life on the planet. New studies show that there is methane gas in the planet's atmosphere. This may be further proof that there is life on Mars. Recent satellite probes found some drifts on the south pole a metre deep. The atmosphere pressure is 171.5kg per sq.cm. approximately, as compared with earth's 1.25kg per sq.cm. Mars can be easily recognised by his reddish tint in the night sky. Huge dusts storms are known to occur there. Two small satellites orbit Mars. Mars got its name from the bloody red god of war of the ancient Romans.

Melissa Healy Age:13

Eclipse of the Moon

Everything that is lighted by the sun casts a shadow. One side of the earth is lighted by the sun. On the far side the earth casts its shadow in space . As the moon orbits the earth, it somtimes passes into the shadow. We then see the earth's round shadow on the face of the full moon. When this happens, the moon is no longer directly lighted by the sun. It is eclipsed or dimmed. When a partical eclipse occurs, it can be seen from all over the night side of the earth. When the whole moon passes through the earth's shadow we have a total lunar eclipse when only part of the moon passes through the shadow, We have lunar eclipse, sometimes the moon's shadow falls on the earth. This happens when we have a new moon. The moon is now between the sun and the earth. The moon is now hidding the sun. This is a solar eclipse. A total eclipse can take place only when the moon is fairly close to the earth.

Gina Murphy Age:12



Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun. It is the smallest planet in the Solar System. It is only a little bit bigger than our moon. Not much is known about it. Sometimes it appears near the surface just after sunset. Like the earth it is a ball of rock. Its pull of gravity is mush weaker than the earth's. Mercury has almost no atmosphere. It is made up of a gas called carbon dioxide. Mercury is bathed in deadly radiation from the sun because it almost has no daylight. No one thinks that there could be any kind of life on Mercury. It has the smallest orbit of any planetbecause it is the nearest planet to the sun. It takes 88 earth days to make one trip around the sun. Astronomers think that mercury spins once every 58.5 earth days on its axis. During its long period of orbit the ground becomes very hot. At night time it is very cold. Mercury's surface mustbe bare and jagged and dry.

Marina Shaughnessy Age: 10


Venus is the second planet out from the sun. It is an earth-sized planet. Its gravity holds an atmosphere about the size of our own. It is also in the part of the solar system as the earth. It appears just after sunset or just before sunrise. Venus is often referred to as the morning or evening star. There are times when it is so bright it can be seen by day. Venus appears so bright because it is our closest neighbour and because it is rapped in thick, white clouds. The clouds reflect the light and Venus gleams in the sky. No one has even seen the planet's surface because of the clouds. The Russians have measured the temperature and the atmospheric pressure. Both are much higher than on earth. Radar shows that Venus rotates backwards, from east to west. The sun rises in the west and sets in the east. It orbits the sun in 225 earth days. It takes 243 earth days to spin once. Venus always turns the same face towards the earth when it passes our planet. The earth's gravity seems to control its spinning. Most likely the planet is a huge desert swept by sandstorms. Most scientists think that the planet is lifeless but others think that it is a likely place to look for life. Its temperature at surface is 310 degrees C and it has no moon.

Micheál Hennelly Age : 10

The Moon

The moon is our nearest neighbour in space.It is about a quaeter of a million miles away. Its diameter is about one quarter of the earths. The moon is the earths only natural satellite. It shines because t refleats the suns light. We have a new moon once a month. This is about the moon also spins on its axis. It takes the same time to spin once as it does to orbit once. The moon always keeps the same face toward the earth. It has mountians, plains and craters. It appears to be a small dead world. It has little or no air. Such an atmosphere would not be useful for man. He could not breathe in it. He would not shield in it. It would not carry sound. It would not orbit him from the suns rays. The moon has no weather. There are no winds, no clouds, no rain. But the moon is either blazing hot or icy cold. Most of the craters on the moon were probably caused by meteorites. Neil Armstrong was the frist man to land on the moon in July, 1969. His footprints will last on the moon for millions of years because of the absence of weatering.

Karl Murphy Age: 10

The Atmosphere

The earth is wrapprd in a blanket of gases.These gases form the earth's atmosphere which we call the air. There are about 20 different gase in our atmosphere.The two main onesare nitrogen and oxygen is the gas almost all forms of life must have another gasin the air carbon dioxide .Green plants use this gas when they are making their food our atmosphere is one of the things that make the things that make the earth a planet of life.It is the air we breath.It blocks certain dangerous rays sent by the sun. It keeps the earth from getting very hot or very cold. Many other heavenly bodies have atmosphere also, but they are not like the earths.

Francella Shaughnessy Age:10


The earth is our home planet.This fact makes the earth very special. It is aplanet of life. More important, it is a planet of intelligent life. It is the only such planet in our solar system. The earth is one of a family of nine planets. The earth is the third out from the sun. A fairly small planet it is a ball of rock and metal. Wrapped is a thin blanket of air. Much of the earth's surface is covered in water. There are many about this small planet that make it just right for life. One is the earth's distance from the sun. The earth is about 93 million miles away from the sun. That is a good distance. The earth recieves plenty of heat and light. But it does not boil in the suns rays. The shape of the earth's orbit is also very good. The orbit is nearly a circle. The is also about the same distance from the sun. It recieves a steady supply of heat and light. As the earth orbits the sun you notice certain changes. The length of days change. So do the temperatures. That is, the earth has seasons. The seasons exist because of the way the earth's axis is tilted. Each pole is tilted towards the sun for part of the year. It is tilted away from the sun for part of the year. Summer comes to the North Pole when it is tilted towards the sun andand winter when it is tilted away.

Noel Ward Age:11



The sun is a star.It is a huge ball of very hot gases.It is so hot that it shines with its own light and gives off its own heat.The sun is our star.It lights and warms the earth.With its light and heat,there would be no life on earth.The sun is about 93 million miles from the earth.The next nearest star is 25 billion miles awy.As stars go,the sun is average size.But to us it seams very big.The sun spiins on its axis.The sun is made of gases, and so the parts of its surface do not move at the same speed.the part at the equator moves fastest.It takes about 25 days to turn once.The sun uses up 600million tons of hydroggoneach second.But it contains a huge amount of matter. As engery is produce,it flows towards the surface of the sun.When the engergy reaches the surfface of the sun,it escapes into space.The planets resive light,and other kinds of energy from the sun.Photographs show that the surrface has a grany look.It is covered with dots,eacha few hundred miles wide sunspots.No one knows for sure what hot cuases sunspots .Astronromers think they are areas where hot gases have broken through the surrface of the sun.

Mark Cunniffe Age:11



Sometimes but not very often, it is possible to see a comet in the night sky. The comet appears as a bright ball shaped head of light with a long glowing tail. Comets travel very fast around the sun in huge sausage shaped orbits. Comets cannot be seen when they are far from the sun. They shine only when they are near the sun. Comets seem to be made chiefly from gases and dust. As a comet nears the sun, the sun's rays pass through the gases and cause them to glow. The comets tail forms when the sun's rays pushes its gases away from the sun. Different comets make diferent orbits. One of these is Halley's comet. It orbits the sun every 75to77 years. It was last seen in 1986. A few comets are discovered every year. Astronomers do not know if they are old or new. They do know that comets will not last forever. Finally all the gases vanish. The dust which is left often enters the atmosphere and a meteor shower takes place. This often takes place in the month of August.


Bill Cahill Age 11


Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system. Its diameter is almost eleven times as the earths. It takes nearly twelve earth years to orbit the sun once. It spins on its own axis in a little less than ten hours. It is the fiveth planet from the sun. Jupiter is a yellowish ball circled by bands of coulor. We can only see the clouds at the top of atmosphere. Its atmosphere is made of gases hydrogen, methane and ammoina. the temperture at the top of the atmosphere it is about minus 130 degrees celsius. no one knows what the surface is like, for no one knows what lies beneath the clouds. The planet sends out great bursts of strong radio waves, which are picked up by radio telescopes on the earth. Jupiter does not seem a likely place for life.