How well do you know our solar system? Quiz


By: Heather Cahill

6 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

How well do you know the objects that make up our solar system and the history of space exploration? Take this quiz to find out just how much you really know!

What is a meteor shower?

A meteor shower is when many meteorites fall from the same point in the sky. The meteorites are usually debris from comets that have passed.


Which planet is the only one that is known to currently sustain life?

So far, Earth is the only planet known to sustain life. Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only planet in our solar system not named after a god.


What destroys asteroids and meteorites when they enter its area?

The atmosphere can and does destroy many asteroids and meteorites that try to pass through it, although some are large enough to make it to the Earth.


Which planet is often called the "Red Planet"?

Mars is called the Red Planet because of its reddish appearance. Officially, it was named after the Roman god of war.


Which planet is the largest in the solar system?

Jupiter also has a moon called Ganymede that is the largest moon in the solar system. Like Saturn, Jupiter has rings, but they are not as defined.


Who was the first person to walk on the moon?

On the Apollo 11 mission, Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon. Since then 11 other people have walked on the moon, all of them American men.


Which planet in our solar system is closest to the Sun?

Somewhat surprisingly, Mercury is only the second hottest planet, despite being closest in proximity to the Sun.


What is made out of ice, dust, rock and frozen gases?

Comets also have two tails, one made from dust and the other made from plasma.


What is in the asteroid belt?

Asteroids form the Asteroid Belt in our solar system. The Asteroid Belt is 1 astronomical unit thick and hangs out between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars.


Which comet's orbit brings it close to Earth every 75 years?

Halley's Comet was first observed in 239 B.C., and it is expected to pass the Earth again in 2061.


What is the Sun?

The Sun is classified as the only star in our solar system, but many other solar systems are known to have two stars.


What is the largest object in our solar system?

The Sun is the largest object in our solar system. It is currently in its "Main Sequence" phase and will transition into its "Red Giant" phase in a few billion years. It will become even larger in this phase.


What was named after the astronomer Jan Oort?

The Oort Cloud is located far from the Sun and contains many icy objects. It was named after Jan because he had speculated its existence.


Which planet has visible rings that surround it?

Saturn's rings are very visible, comparatively. Galileo was the first person attributed with observing them, although they were said to be discovered long before his time.


What planet did early astronomers believe to be the center of the universe?

Early astronomers believed that the Earth was the center of the universe. These astronomers did not have the advanced technology that we now use to determine how objects in the universe actually move.


In which galaxy is our solar system located?

Our solar system is located in the Milky Way, a barred spiral galaxy that has two arms. Our solar system is located on Orion's Arm.


What object in space affects the tides on Earth?

There are two tidal bulges on the Earth's surface where the water levels change because of the gravitational pull of the Moon.


Which planet is the hottest in our solar system?

The temperature on Venus reaches up to 471 degrees Celsius. It is also the second brightest object in our solar system.


How many minutes does it take for light from the sun to reach Earth?

The light from the sun travels at 300,000 kilometers per second.


What happens when a meteoroid, asteroid or comet hits a planet?

When meteoroids, asteroids or comets crash into a planet, they usually leave behind a crater. Most planets have been hit by many of these objects throughout their existence.


Where are Pluto, Makemake and Haumea located?

Pluto, Makemake and Haumea are located in the Kuiper Belt. Along with these dwarf planets, the belt also has many other objects within it that are made of ice.


Which planet can reach the coldest temperatures?

Even though Uranus is not the farthest planet from our sun, it reaches some of the lowest temperatures. There are several theories about why, but no one knows for certain - yet.


What was the first animal to orbit the Earth?

A dog named Laika was the first animal to go into orbit around the Earth. She was a stray dog that was rescued in Russia and went into space on the Sputnik 2 mission. One of her nicknames in the American press was "Muttnik."


What are Uranus, Saturn, Jupiter and Neptune called?

They are referred to as the Gas Giants. These planets are farther away from the Sun and, although they are primarily made up of gases, they do have rocky centers.


Which is the largest dwarf planet in our solar system?

Pluto is the largest dwarf planet in our solar system, although it is smaller than many other objects found there, including some moons.


What is a sunspot?

Sunspots are areas in the Sun's photosphere that are noticeably darker and cooler than other areas.


What can happen to Venus, Mercury and Earth when the Sun enters its Red Giant phase?

In its Red Giant phase, the Sun will expand and consume the three planets. If Earth happens to survive, it is likely that its orbit would change.


How many planets are in our solar system?

There are eight planets in our solar system, because Pluto is considered a dwarf planet. There is also talk about an addition of a new planet that scientists are calling "Planet X"...but we have yet to experience a proper sighting before it becomes official.


What are Venus, Mars, Earth and Mercury called?

These planets are mostly solid and made of heavy metals; as a group, they're also referred to as the Inner Planets.


What is it called when a planet spins backwards?

When a planet spins backwards, it's said to be in retrograde. There are two planets in the solar system that are in retrograde motion: Uranus and Venus.


What is it called when the moon moves between the Earth and the sun?

Total solar eclipses can happen about every 1 or 2 years, and they can last up to 7.5 minutes.


How many dwarf planets exist in our solar system, officially speaking?

There are only five planets that are officially classified as dwarf planets. They are Ceres, Makemake, Eris, Haumea and Pluto. Although it is likely that there are thousands more, only these five are officially classified.


Which dwarf planet is located in the Asteroid Belt?

Ceres is the dwarf planet located in the Asteroid Belt. It is the smallest of the dwarf planets and also the closest to the Sun.


Which planet has the longest day?

A day on Venus lasts for 243 of our days on Earth. Venus takes 224 days to complete an orbit around the sun.


Which planet has 14 moons?

Triton is the largest moon that orbits Neptune. It even has its own atmosphere, which is only four other moons have.


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