Space Education for Kids
Outer space begins 100 kilometers above the Earth. Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is just one small part of the huge place known as the universe. Astronauts have traveled in space, and scientists have sent probes into space that can send back interesting information about space to us here on Earth. Every day, we learn more about the planets, stars, galaxies, and other things that are out there, far beyond our planet.
There are eight major planets in our solar system that we know of. The center of the solar system is the sun, which all of the planets revolve around. Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars are smaller, very rocky planets that are the closest to the sun. After Mars, there is a very large asteroid belt, where a lot of rocky objects float through space. Then come the larger planets, including Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. While these planets are much bigger than our home, Earth, they are a lot lighter because they are made mostly of gas. Beyond those are some little planets, known as dwarf planets. These include Pluto and Eris. Scientists have found some evidence that there might be a ninth major planet out there, too, but they're not totally positive yet.
The moon is a bright, glowing orb that we see every night. It was created 4.5 billion years ago. The surface of the moon is made of rocks. In fact, the moon rocks that astronauts have tested were found to be very similar to rocks that we have on our planet. Earth revolves around the sun, but the moon revolves around the Earth. That is why we can only see one side of the moon at a time. As the moon goes around Earth, it goes through phases. That is why sometimes we only see a small sliver of the moon and other times we see the whole, full moon. The dark side of the moon, or the side we cannot see, is extremely cold. The average temperature on the dark side of the moon is -280 degrees Fahrenheit! On the sunny side, it's a lot hotter; temperatures can be as high as 192 degrees Fahrenheit.
The stars in our solar system are big, burning balls of gas. This gas is held together by the star's own gravity. The light from stars takes a very long time to travel to Earth. In fact, a star could burn out before the light from it ever reaches us here on Earth. There are a ton of stars in outer space, but the one we are most familiar with is the sun. Groups of stars form constellations, like the Big Dipper, which we can see on dark nights or through telescopes.
The solar system consists of the eight planets that orbit the sun, but there is much more to it. There are asteroids, moons, comets, and more that float throughout outer space. For instance, there are 140 moons that orbit the eight planets in the solar system. While space organizations have done a lot of research about our solar system and the ones beyond it, there is still a lot more to discover.
Asteroids, Comets, and Meteorites
Asteroids are rocks that revolve around the sun. Asteroids have been known as one of the most dangerous things in outer space because they can crash into Earth and cause gaping holes and major damage. Comets are similar to asteroids, but they are made of rock and ice. Meteors are chunks that break off of asteroids or comets. These tiny rocks sometimes rain down to the Earth during meteor showers, and then, we call them shooting stars. At certain times of year, you may be able to spot a shooting star in the nighttime sky!
Astronauts get to study space every day, and some are even lucky enough to travel there. You may not be able to go out into the solar system right now, but these WebQuests put you right in the action of learning. Through the Internet, you can discover more about outer space.
Make learning about outer space fun with interactive games! Explore the eight different planets and discover what they look like. Test your knowledge of outer space with an online quiz. Playing educational games is a great way to learn new things and have fun, too.