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The Sun
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The Sun

The Sun's Planets

The Sun's planets(in order from sun): Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto (a dwarf planet) orbit the sun in nearly circular trajectories that all (except for Mercury and Pluto) lie in very nearly the same plane.

The Sun contains 99.9 percent of the mass in the solar system, and the four giant planets have the bulk of the 0.1 percent residue. The Earth, largest of the four inner planets, has only 1/318 of Jupiter's mass and 1/329,000 of the sun's mass. The four giant planets differ most strikingly from the four inner planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars) in their size and composition.

The giant planets are large, gaseous, rarefied, and hydrogen-rich, while the inner planets are small rocky, dense, and hydrogen-poor. Because the giant planets consist mostly of hydrogen and helium, they resemble the universe at large. The inner planets are distinctly different: Though the universe consists mostly of hydrogen, the Earth does not.

The planets, most of the satellites of the planets and the asteroids revolve around the Sun in the same direction, in nearly circular orbits. When looking down from above the Sun's north pole, the planets orbit in a counter-clockwise direction.

The planets orbit the Sun in or near the same plane, called the ecliptic. Pluto is a special case in that its orbit is the most highly inclined (18 degrees) and the most highly elliptical of all the planets. Because of this, for part of its orbit, Pluto is closer to the Sun than is Neptune. The axis of rotation for most of the planets is nearly perpendicular to the ecliptic. The exceptions are Uranus and Pluto (a dwarf planet), which are tipped on their sides.

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