Earth is an extraordinary planet indeed. It is the only planet that we know of that can house living things, from plants to animals to humans – even though it has not always been able to do so. Earth has changed a lot since it was formed 4.54 billion years ago and will continue to evolve. Below are some interesting facts on our amazing planet that we call home and where we fit in the Solar System.
Interesting Facts about Earth
- Earth is the third planet from the Sun. Falling behind Mercury and Venus and in front of Mars.
- Earth is the only planet in our Solar System that can support life. This is because it is so well protected by its atmosphere, has water on its surface and breathable oxygen levels.
- Earth is the only planet with water in liquid form on its surface. This takes up 70% of the planet.
- Earth takes just over 365 days to rotate around the Sun. 365 and a quarter to be exact. That’s why a year is usually 365 days, and every four years we have a leap year with 366 days in it. This extra day is always on the 29th of February.
- The earth takes 24 hours to turn on its axis. This is why we spend half of the day with daylight when our part of the earth is facing the Sun. And the other half in darkness when we are facing away from it.
- The Earth is travelling through space at roughly 67000 miles (107,826 kilometres) per hour.
- The Earth is tilted to a 23.5-degree angle, and this is what gives us seasons. This makes the Earth point in a particular direction as it goes around the Sun meaning throughout a year parts of
- Earth are different distances away from the Sun.
- The North Pole always points in the same direction. When it points towards the Sun, it is Summer in the Northern Hemisphere and Winter in the Southern Hemisphere. When it is pointing away from the Sun, this reverses meaning it is the Winter in the Nothern Hemisphere and Summer in the Southern Hemisphere.
- Earth is the only planet with a breathable level of oxygen – 21%. The rest of the Earths atmosphere is made up of 78% nitrogen with trace amounts of other gases such as carbon dioxide.
- The reason Earth has plenty of oxygen when other planets don’t is because of the massive amounts of plant life. The plants use up the carbon dioxide during photosynthesis.
- Earth is the only planet not named after a mythical being. Instead, its name comes from the old English word “Ertha” meaning ground or soil.
- Planet Earth formed around 4.54 billion years ago. However, it was not how it is today, and life would not have been possible for a very long time. The Earth has been continuously changing since it was formed and is still changing today.
- It is believed the first life on Earth began in the oceans.
- Ancient astronomers believed Earth to be the centre of the Solar System and that all other planets orbited around it. In 1543 a Sun-Centered model of the Solar System was published which showed the Sun to be the centre of the Solar system.
- The Earth has its moon which it is tidally locked to. It rotates in the same amount of time it takes to orbit, so the same side of the moon is always facing the Earth.
- The Earths rotation is slowing down over time. This is happening very slowly but in around 104 million years a day on Earth will go from being 24 hours to 25 hours.
- The Earth has a diameter of 7928 miles (12760 kilometres). That is the distance measured around the Equator, which is the line around Earth dividing the northern and southern hemispheres.
- A very long time ago the Earths water was actually under the surface before volcanic activity brought it to the surface. A recent discovery has shown large volumes of water – enough to fill our oceans three times – are still near the Earth’s core.
- The highest point on Earth is Mount Everest which is 5.45 miles (8.8km) high.
- Earth has a lot fewer craters than the surface of most other planets. This is because the planet has lots of volcanoes and earthquakes which cause the highs and lows of the surface to sink or be worn down over time.
- The Earth has an Ozone Layer. This is a shell that protects the Earth from a lot of the Sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. These would be damaging to animals, humans and plant life. Life could not continue on Earth without the Ozone Layer.
- Earth has a very powerful magnetic field. This protects the atmosphere of the planet from solar winds. These solar winds would otherwise strip away our precious ozone layer. It is thought that the lack of atmosphere on Mars is because of the loss of its magnetic field.
- The Earth’s atmosphere is about 100km thick. The part of this that we can live in, the troposphere, is only about 14km thick. Compare that to the radius of the Earth which is nearly 6,500km.
- If the Earth were the size of a bowling ball, then its liveable atmosphere would be the thickness of the varnish on its surface. The atmosphere is of vital importance to us. We could not survive without it.
- Without carbon dioxide, there could be no plant life on Earth. Without the oxygen produced by plants, there could be no animal life. Plants were around (in one form or another) around a billion years before any animal life came into being.
- Without ozone to absorb harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun, we could not survive.
- The Earths sky is blue, and this is caused by light from the Sun passing through our atmosphere. It contains all the colours of the visible spectrum ROYGBIV. When this light passes through gas molecules the colours with a longer wavelength (ROYG) more or less pass straight through. Colours with a shorter wavelength (BIV) are absorbed by gas molecules and then reemitted but in any direction. This process is called Rayleigh scattering.
Related Earth Questions
- Earth’s gravity and orbit explained
- How long have humans been on Earth?
- How many Earths can fit in Jupiter?
- How much does the Earth weigh?
- Which planet has the most moons?
- What is the distance between planets?
- How many moons are in our Solar System?