School of Physics & Astronomy


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The Sun

The Sun, our local star. Of all the stars in the universe, it is the one we can most easily study. It is so much closer than all the other stars that astronomers can examine it in intricate detail. What is special about it -- or is there nothing special other than it is ours? What can we learn about other stars based on what we know from our own?

Duration: 00:05:42


Mercury: the closest planet to the Sun, and the smallest of all the planets. How long is a day there, how long is its year, and why are they so deeply connected?

Duration: 00:05:56


Venus: the planet most commonly seen as the morning or evening star, and the object most often mistaken as a UFO. It is the nearest to Earth and almost a twin in size and shape. However that is where the comparison ends! It is also not a planet you want to holiday on any time soon...

Presenters: Meghan Gray
Duration: 00:04:53


The Earth: our home, the "pale blue dot". How does it stack up against the other rocky planets in our solar system, and increasingly against other planets in the galaxy?

Duration: 00:05:56


Mars: the only planet inhabited (currently) only by robots. They are trying to answer the biggest questions going: is there, or was there ever life on Mars?

Duration: 00:09:49


Jupiter: The biggest of all the planets in the solar system. Not only did it mass shield the Earth from incoming asteroids, but it was also used in the first effort to work out the speed of light.

Duration: 00:06:49


Saturn: the ringed planet, and spectacular when viewed through a telescope. What are those fabulous rings composed of, and how were they made? It also has the lowest density of any planet in our solar system, meaning it would float on water, if we could find a big enough bowl!

Duration: 00:06:05


Uranus: how do you pronounce it, and was it nearly named something else which would have saved us all embarrassment? It has some odd Shakespearean moons, and doesn't follow the crowd in the way it spins.

Duration: 00:07:01


Neptune: its discovery was predicted due to oddities in the orbit of Uranus. These mysteries inspired a race by astronomres to find it, based on the maths that predicted where to look.

Duration: 00:03:41


Pluto: planet no more. It was demoted from the list of planets in 2006 after a vote by the International Astronomical Union. It has since been visited the NASA New Horizons mission after this video was filmed: it was still a planet when the probe left, but not when it arrived! Pluto was only discovered in 1930, but was far smaller than the hypothetical planet astronomers were searching for. Since that time several other objects of similar size have popped up. See also our follow-up video after the New Horizons flyby: "Pluto the Boring Non-Planet" and some controversial viewpoints!

Presenters: Meghan Gray
Duration: 00:06:34

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School of Physics and Astronomy

The University of Nottingham
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Nottingham NG7 2RD

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