Earth seems pretty big, right? Well, on the scale of the universe, we are smaller than a speck of dust in an immeasurably large expanse of emptiness (space). Need proof? Check out some of the links and videos below to have your mind blown!
Click here to see a visual representation of how far it is from Earth to the Moon, and then to Mars. Pretty neat stuff, with some neat facts along the way!
See the size comparison to the right:
Earth is on the left, Earth's Moon is bottom right, and Mars is top right.
Top-left, moving clockwise:
- Venus (yellowish in colour, it rotates in the opposite direction of most other planets)
- Mercury (smallest planet & closest to the Sun)
- Mars (the "Red Planet")
- Earth (Home Sweet Home!)
- Uranus (a lighter blue than Neptune, it appears to "roll" through the solar system)
Where is Pluto? Besides spending a lot of time at Disneyland, Pluto has been relegated to a dwarf planet: not quite large enough to be considered a proper planet. Click here for more information from NASA about Pluto. Click here for an animation of how many dwarf planets might be out there (you'll have to scroll down a bit).
The correct order of the planets, starting withe the closest to the sun:
Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, (asteroid belt,) Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.
This mnemonic might help you remember: My Very Excited Mother Just Served Us Nachos.
If the Earth was the size of a marble, how big would the solar system be?
How big are the biggest stars in the universe?
You might be surprised!
The Size of Space by Neal Agarwal
A comparison of the sizes of objects in the universe: from humans (tiny), all the way up to the entire observable universe (immensely huge, and expanding faster and faster). Click the image, or click here.
Outcome: Students will recognize that the Sun and stars emit the light by which they are seen and that most other bodies in space, including Earth's Moon, planets and their moons, comets, and asteroids, are seen by reflected light.
Objects that emit light include:
Watch the video to the left to learn about the phases of the moon and what each phase is called.
The main phases are:
- New Moon (we see the dark side of the Moon)
- Waxing Crescent Moon (we see a sliver of the moon)
- First Quarter (we see the Moon half lit up)
- Waxing Gibbous Moon most of the moon is lit up)
- Full Moon (we see the light side of the Moon)
- Waning Gibbous Moon most of the moon is lit up but less than a Full Moon)
- Last Quarter ( we see the other half of the Moon lit up)
- Waning Crescent Moon (the Moon is about to become New again)
Click the picture to use the Lunar Phase Simulator to play with the phases of the moon.
- Pay attention to the position of the moon in relation to the sun.
- Notice what the moon looks like from the surface of the earth.
- Know and understand that the phases of the moon repeat, in order, and are predictable.
Outcome: Students will recognize that not only Earth, but other planets, have moons; and identify examples of similarities and differences in the characteristics of those moons.
There are over 300 moons in the Solar System!
The video to the left answers these questions:
Students will describe seasonal changes in the length of the day and night and in the angle of the Sun above the horizon.
How NOT to observe the Sun can be seen in the video above. NEVER look directly at the Sun, or through a telescope at the Sun. It may be the LAST thing you ever see.
A video about the fun uses for a pinhole camera. It's how they enjoyed movies in ancient times!
See what a shadow stick is and how it behaves. Why does it do these things?
Here is the "why" for the video to the left.
The apparent movement of the sun across the sky causes the shadow of the stick to move.
Understandings - Topic C: Sky Science
Students learn about objects in the day and night sky. Through direct observation and research, students learn about the motions and characteristics of stars, moons and planets. Using simple materials, such as balls and beads, students create models and diagrams which they use to explore the relative position and motion of objects in space. As a result of these studies, students move from a simple view of land and sky, to one that recognizes Earth as a sphere in motion within a larger universe. With new understanding, students revisit the topics of seasonal cycles, phases of the Moon and the apparent motion of stars.
General Learner Expectations
6-7 Observe, describe and interpret the movement of objects in the sky; and identify pattern and order in these movements.
Specific Learner Expectations