- Venus spins in the opposite direction: While most planets in our solar system rotate counterclockwise when viewed from above the North Pole, Venus is an exception. It rotates in the opposite direction, making it the only planet in our solar system to have a retrograde (clockwise) rotation.
- Uranus rolls on its side: Unlike other planets that have their rotational axes roughly perpendicular to their orbits, Uranus is tilted on its side. Its axis of rotation is inclined at an angle of about 98 degrees to its orbital plane, causing it to appear as if it’s rolling on its side as it orbits the Sun.
- Saturn could float in water: Saturn is known for its iconic ring system, but did you know that it has a relatively low density? In fact, Saturn’s average density is less than the density of water. If you could find a large enough bathtub, Saturn would actually float!
- Jupiter’s great red spot is shrinking: Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, is famous for its Great Red Spot—a persistent storm system that has been observed for centuries. However, recent observations indicate that the storm is gradually shrinking. Over the past few decades, its size has decreased significantly.
- Earth’s largest volcano is on Mars: While Earth has impressive volcanoes like Mauna Loa in Hawaii, the largest volcano in the solar system is found on Mars. Olympus Mons is a shield volcano on Mars that stands about 13.6 miles (22 kilometers) high, making it nearly three times the height of Mount Everest.
- Neptune emits more heat than it receives from the Sun: Despite being located farthest from the Sun, Neptune emits more heat into space than it receives from the Sun. The exact source of this excess heat is still not entirely understood, but it is thought to be due to internal processes such as the release of gravitational energy and leftover heat from its formation.
- Mercury has an unusual day-night cycle: Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun, has a peculiar day-night cycle. Because its rotation period is about 58.6 Earth days, which is two-thirds of its 88-day orbit around the Sun, a single day on Mercury (from sunrise to sunrise) takes about 176 Earth days.
- Venus has super-fast winds: While Venus is often referred to as Earth’s “sister planet” due to its similar size, it has a vastly different atmosphere. Venus experiences incredibly strong winds in its upper atmosphere, reaching speeds of up to 200 miles per hour (322 kilometers per hour). These winds blow much faster than any hurricane on Earth.