Introduction to The Nine Planets
The Nine Planets is a collection of information about our Solar System
intended for a general audience with little technical background.
No special expertise or knowledge is needed;
all technical and astronomical terms and proper names are
defined in the glossary.
The bulk of this material should be familiar to planetary scientists and
astronomers but they may find a few interesting tidbits, too.
This document consists of about 100 WWW "pages",
one page for each major body
in the Solar System. Each page has:
- a large picture of its object and usually several smaller thumbnail images (all linked to their full-size originals)
- some scientific and historical facts about it,
- if the object has satellites
then its page has a table of data on them and links to their pages,
- links to more images and
information about the object elsewhere on the Web, and
- a list of open issues for which we as yet have no answers.
To truly justify the title of "Multimedia Tour", I've also included:
- short sound clips from
(about 10 seconds or 180k each) for seven of the planets;
- sound clips of my mellifluous voice pronouncing some of the more unusual
- links to "movies" of a few objects.
There are also a few miscellaneous pages: on planetary science spacecraft, the
glossary, a comprehensive list of planetary images available elsewhere on the Net,
some bits of history, several pages of data and a special
plea for your support of the space program.
The pages of this document are organized in a hierarchy based on the
primary-satellite relationship. In addition, there are many hyperlinks enabling
the interactive viewer to jump around and view the pages in many ways. (If you
"get lost" you can always jump back to the table of contents.)
At the bottom of each page is a set of links to other related pages.
To visit the next body in an ordered traversal of the solar system choose the
link immediately to the right of the name of the current page. You can also go back
to the previous page, the "parent" page, the table of contents or to the
detailed data page.
I've chosen ten of the most interesting bodies and linked them into an
Express Tour. If you don't have time for the full
tour, don't miss these.
And if you want to read offline or just explore in more depth, visit The Nine Planets Bookstore.
Many of the images here will look much better if your
system uses at least 16 bits per pixel.
If you're having trouble viewing something, see the
Technical Help appendix for some hints.
It will also go faster (for you and everyone else) if you use the
mirror site closest to you.
Other Solar System Info
There are several other collections of information about
the Solar System available on the World Wide Web:
Most of the inline pictures here come from these sources, especially the first two.
Without their efforts and the efforts of all the scientists and engineers at
NASA and JPL
this tour would not be possible.
- Views of The Solar System, by Calvin J. Hamilton formerly of the Los Alamos National Laboratory (referred to here as "LANL"); the best of the bunch (now maintained at the Hawaiian Astronomical Society)
- The Nine Planets - For Kids, a version of this site tailored for younger audiences
- Kids Astronomy, another nice astronomy site for a younger audience
- Universe Today - Space news from around the Internet, updated every weekday.
- StarChild, A learning center for young astronomers
- Welcome to the Planets from
Jet Propulsion Laboratory ("JPL"); direct from "the source"
- Planetary Tour by Scientific American
- Exploring the Planets from the National Air and Space Museum
- The Solar System by Ken Edgett of Arizona State University ("ASU"); somewhat smaller than the above
- Regional Planetary Image Facility at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC ("RPIF")
- The Solar System from the Royal Greenwich Observatory ("RGO")
- National Space Science Data Center Photo Gallery ("NSSDC") and a variety of information at the Planetary Sciences home page
- Virtual Solar System from the National Geographic Society
- NASA's Planetary Science Research Discoveries, readable but peer-reviewed articles on current research
- Planetary Tour Guide compiled by Gordon Johnston of NASA HQ.
- Browse the Solar System from USGS
- StarDate Guide To The Solar System from McDonald Observatory
- Planets and the Solar System, a resource list from SEDS
- Browse the Solar System (mostly data) from USGS Flagstaff
- Updates to Jay Pasachoff's textbook
- Class notes by Nick Strobel of Bakersfield College
- Class notes by Joseph Cain of Florida State University
- Our Solar System from NASA Spacelink
- Solar System Live,
the Interactive Orrery of the Web.
- The Celestial Times -- where to find the planets for the current month
- NASA's Twelve Year Planetary Ephemeris provides detailed and accurate geocentric positions
- The Dundee Astronomy Page also has data about the positions of the planets in the sky
- Planetary Remote Sensing (part of the awesome Remote Sensing Tutorial by Nicholas M. Short Sr.)
- Planetary Tour Guide
- Windows to the Universe, from the University of Michigan (very nice)
- A Space Library, simulated views of the solar system, maps and more (from JPL)
Other Astronomical Pages
Where to go next
The full tour continues with the Overview
(or if you're in a hurry take the Express Tour).
The names at the bottom of each page provide access to the next world in the full
tour and a few other related pages; the icons provide access to the table of contents,
the page of detailed data and this site's "home page".
If you haven't already, please switch to the
mirror site closest to you.
Bill Arnett; last updated:
2000 Oct 12