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Easy Space Definitions

Check out our space & astronomy information guide for kids that contains a glossary of
important words and easy definitions to help explain them. Understand what these space and
astronomy terms mean in simple language.
Asteroids are small solar system bodies that orbit the Sun. Made of rock and metal, they can
also contain organic compounds. Asteroids are similar to comets but do not have a visible coma
(fuzzy outline and tail) like comets do.
Asteroid Belt:
The asteroid belt lies roughly between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter in the Solar System. It is
home to a large amount of irregular shaped asteroids that range in size from dust through to
the dwarf planet Ceres.
An astronaut (also known as cosmonaut) is someone trained to be a crew member of a
spacecraft. While the word astronaut usually refers to space travel professionals it can also
include normal people who have the privilege of traveling into space.
A comet is a relatively small solar system body that orbits the sun. When close enough to the
Sun they display a visible coma (a fuzzy outline or atmosphere due to solar radiation) and
sometimes a tail.
Dwarf planet:
An object orbiting the Sun that is large enough to be rounded by its own gravity but is not
gravitationally dominant in its orbital area and is not a moon. There are currently five
recognized dwarf planets: Pluto, Ceres, Eris, Makemake & Haumea.
Earth is the fifth largest planet in the Solar System and third from the Sun. It was formed around
four and a half billion years ago and is the only place in the Universe where life is known to
A galaxy is a large group of stars, dust, gas and dark matter held together by gravity. They vary

in size with some containing millions of stars while others could contain as many as a trillion.
They can also form in different shapes such as elliptical galaxies and spiral galaxies.
Halleys Comet:
Halleys Comet (or Comet Halley as it is also known) is the most well known comet in the Solar
System. It orbits the Sun and can be seen with the naked eye from Earth around every 75 years,
returning for its next visit sometime in 2061.
Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system. It features the famous Red Spot and a large
number of orbiting moons.
Mars, or the 'Red Planet' as it is sometimes known, is the fourth planet from the Sun. It features
a dusty, rocky surface, relatively calm conditions and a thin atmosphere.
Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun in the Solar System. As well as being very hot, it
features a barren, crater covered surface which looks similar to the Moon.
A meteoroid that burns up as it passes through the Earths atmosphere is known as a meteor. If
youve ever looked up at the sky at night and seen a streak of light or shooting star what you
are actually seeing is a meteor.
A meteoroid that survives falling through the Earths atmosphere and colliding with the Earth
surface is known as a meteorite.
A meteoroid is a small rock or particle of debris in our solar system. They range in size from dust
to around 10 metres in diameter (larger objects are usually referred to as asteroids).
Milky Way:
The Milky Way is a spiral galaxy where our Solar System and Earth are located.

The Moon is a natural satellite which orbits the Earth. It is around a quarter the size of Earth
and can be easily seen in the night sky. While other planets in the Solar System have moons,
they are usually referred to by name, such as Jupiters Ganymede, or as natural satellites.
Neptune is the eighth planet from the Sun and is nearly four times the size of Earth. It features
strong winds and violent weather.
A planet is an object orbiting a star that is large enough to be rounded by its own gravity. It is
also gravitationally dominant in its orbital area but not large enough to cause thermonuclear
fusion (like stars do). There are eight planets in the Solar System.
Pluto was the furthest planet from the Sun until it was demoted from a planet to a dwarf planet
in 2006.
Saturn is the second largest planet in our solar system, the sixth planet from the Sun and
features an impressive system of rings.
Small Solar System Body:
Objects that orbit the Sun but arent planets or dwarf planets are known as small solar system
bodies, these include comets, asteroids and other small bodies.
Solar System:
The solar system includes the Sun and all the objects that orbit around it due to its gravity,
including Earth.
A star is a huge, bright ball of burning gas that is held together by gravity. Stars contain mostly
hydrogen as well as helium and smaller amounts of other elements. The Sun is the closest star
to Earth.
The Sun is a star and the biggest object in the Solar System, it burns brightly in the center as
planets and other objects orbit around it. It has a diameter around 110 times bigger than the

Earths and is located around 150 million kilometres (93 million miles) away.
The Universe is made up of everything that exists, including planets, stars, galaxies and all forms
of matter and energy.
Uranus is the third largest planet in the Solar System and seventh planet from the Sun. Uranus
rolls like a barrel rather than spinning like Earth and was the first planet discovered by
Venus is the second closest planet to the Sun. It is similar in size to Earth and features thick a
thick atmosphere which locks in heat as the surface rages with active volcanoes.