The Solar Family
‘Sol’ is the Greek word for ‘Sun’, and thus, the word ‘Solar’ stands for anything related to the Sun. Accordingly, the Sun and the group of heavenly bodies that revolve round it systematically. Is named by the Astronomers as the ’Solar System’. The Sun, the head of the solar family, is the star at the center of the Solar System. The Solar Family is comprised of the Sun, eight Planets and their natural Satellites, Dwarf Planets, thousands of Asteroids, a few Comets and swarms of Meteors. While the Planets, Asteroids, and Comets orbit the Sun, the Satellites orbit the Planets. The Sun is the brightest object in our daytime sky, which lights up the moon, planets, comets, and asteroids. On the other hand, the Moon, the only Satellite of the Earth, is the brightest object in the night sky.
Planets : They are opaque heavenly bodies that also shine in the night sky, along with the Stars. But unlike the Stars, they have no light of their own; they only reflect the light of the sun.
Satellites : They are small spherical celestial bodies which revolve round a Planet.
Dwarf Planets : According to the International Astronomical Union, a ‘Dwarf Planet ‘is a celestial body orbiting a star like the planets, but is neither a planet nor a natural satellite, which is massive enough to become spherical in shape under its own gravity, but has not cleared the neighborhood around its orbit.
Asteroids : There is a big gulf between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. This vast void of more than 550 million km is the domain of numerous tiny dwarfs, known as Asteroids or Planetoids.
Meteors : These are small roaming pieces of solid matter that are unevenly scattered in the Solar System. During the course of the Earth’s revolution, some of them come closer to the Earth. As they are pulled by the Earth’s gravity, they enter the Earth’s atmosphere with great velocity.
Comets : These are the most exciting heavenly bodies, which used to create more awe than curiosity in the early days of human history. They often exist at the edge of, or even beyond our Solar System. Most of them are believed to inhabit in an area known as the ‘Oort Cloud’, far beyond the orbit of Pluto.
We shall discuss about the above members of the solar family one by one.