The planet Earth is a very special planet indeed. It is the only planet that we know of that is able to 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 and it continues to evolve today with the life that it supports. Below are some facts on this amazing planet that we call home and where we fit in the solar system.
- 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 it’s 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 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 certain 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 then 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 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 large 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 it’s name comes from the old English word “Ertha” meaning ground or soil.
- Planet Earth was 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 constantly 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 center 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 own 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. 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 less 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 plantlife. Life could not continue on Earth without the Ozone Layer.
- Earth has a very powerful magnetic field. This protects the planets atmosphere 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.
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