Laboratory Earth: Earth & its Systems

Module 5
Activity 20.2: Observing Planets Up-Close

Our Solar System is composed of one star, at least nine planets, more than 100 moons, thousands of asteroids, countless comets, dust, and gas. A detailed survey of individual planet characteristics is hardly necessary to appreciate that there are great differences between the properties of the planets with each displaying unique characteristics. Although each planet is interesting in its own way, we will focus on planetary similarities as a guide to understanding the origin and evolution of the Solar System. It is a truism that when scientists are looking to understand “the big picture” they are much more apt to be guided by similarities than by differences.

Determine how Earth compares to other planets in our solar system.

online access to:
online access to:
word processor to submit assignment

Earth is the third planet from the sun in a system that includes the moon, the sun, eight other planets and their moons, and smaller objects, such as asteroids and comets.

1. Observations of the planets from large telescopes and robotic space probes are available to the public through NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at [ ].

2. Select a moon and two planets of your choice to observe.

3. I suggest initially adjusting the virtual telescope settings to OBSERVE <_blank_> from EARTH, and to
set the BODY TO TAKE UP _50%_ OF IMAGE WIDTH and then
making adjustments to make the image as best as possible.

4. Save and paste the images you found into a MS Word document and submit them as part of your assignment.
You also need to make a note of how much larger or smaller each of these images are than Earth (which you can determine by comparing objects online at

5. Post your responses to the Module 1 discussion board.

Question to Ponder:
1. Which planet did you observe?

2. Why did you select this object?

3. How much larger or smaller is it than Earth?

4. What did you learn about it you did not know before?

5. Post your responses to the Discussion Board.