As elementary school students, we learned the order of the planets. Perhaps your teacher had a quick thought like “My very educated mom gave us nine pizzas” or “Educated mom just gave us nachos” after Pluto was eliminated from the planet lineup.
The IAU officially recognizes the latter as the mnemonic, while also referring to the five dwarf planets found among the eight major planets.
It’s easy to remember the order of the planets, but what about the size of the planets? Below is a breakdown of the size of the planets in our solar system.
What is the smallest planet?
The smallest planet in our solar system is Mercury. The planet is about 1/3 the width of the Earth and its radius is 1,516 miles. The radius of Earth’s moon is just over 1,000 miles.
Scientists determine the size of planets by measuring their size against the sky, according to a BBC Science Focus report. This angular diameter is combined with its distance (based on its orbit around the Sun) to calculate the magnitude.
The second smallest planet is Mars, which has a radius of about 2,106 miles.
Next is Venus, which is slightly smaller than Earth. The radius of Venus is 3760 miles.
What is the largest planet?
The largest planet is Jupiter, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Jupiter has a radius of 43,441 miles and a volume 11 times the size of Earth.
Planets in order of size are listed from largest to smallest:
- Jupiter: 43441 miles radius
- Saturn: radius of 36,184 miles
- Uranus: radius of 15,759 miles
- Neptune: 15,299 miles radius
- Earth: radius of 3959 miles
- Venus: radius of 3,760 miles
- Mars: Radius 2106 miles
- Mercury: a radius of 1516 miles
Which planet is closest to the sun?
Mercury is not only the smallest planet but also the closest to the sun. Mercury lies approximately 36 million miles from the sun, or 57.9 million kilometers, NASA reports.
Earth is about 93 million miles from the sun – a number you’ll probably have to memorize in science class. The farthest planet is Neptune, about 2.8 billion miles from the Sun.
But while Mercury is closest to the sun, Venus is actually the hottest planet in our solar system. According to NASA, the surface temperature of Venus is 900 degrees Fahrenheit. Mercury still operates at a maximum of 800 degrees during the day, but temperatures can drop to minus 290 degrees because the planet has no atmosphere.
NASA wrote that instead of an atmosphere, Mercury has a thin exposure made of atoms that use the solar wind and strike meteors to erupt off the surface.
Is Mercury smaller than Pluto?
Mercury is larger than Pluto, but it is still considered the smallest planet due to the classification of Pluto as a dwarf planet.
In 2006, the International Astronomical Union determined that Pluto did not meet the qualifications to be a planet because it does not clear its orbital path as other planets do.
The diameter of Mercury is larger than that of the dwarf planet Pluto, which is only about 1,473 miles in diameter, while that of Mercury is 3,030.
Is Pluto a planet? It’s no longer considered one, but some think it should be
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the quote: What is the smallest planet? (It’s not Pluto.) Take a closer look at the sizes of the planets. (2022, September 12) Retrieved September 12, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-09-smallest-planet-pluto-closer-sizes.html
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