As we learned in the first episode of the new Cosmos our little galaxy isn't exactly the first tier of creation. We are made of others systems that exploded. In the beginning as dust and gas coalesced the our current sun and planets started to form.
In the Beginning
Eventually we had a nice normal run of the mill yellow G2 star as our sun. Not a superstar in the realm of stars but good enough for our purposes.
Next to the sun we have little Mercury. It is the smallest planet in our galaxy and a slowpoke. It takes 59 Earth days to make one rotation but it does speed up and orbits around the sun in 88 Earth days.
Mercury and Our Sun
Next to Mercury comes the beautiful and hellish Venus. It is about 900°F on the surface. Not a place you would want to visit. It spins retrograde which means the sun rises in the west and sets in the east. Recently scientists were able to take pictures of Venus crossing the Sun. Of course where I live you have to imagine it because any time something spectacular is happening in the sky it is raining here.
Venus Crossing the Sun
Our little blue green world comes next. We might want to keep in mind the toxic atmosphere of Venus and try and make sure we don't screw up our atmosphere and end up like that.
Earth and Moon
We have one little moon to our name. There are several theories about the formation of the moon one of the most prevalent at the moment is something huge hitting Earth and knocking a piece of it off and forming the moon. The moon has no atmosphere and if we want to colonize it we would have to love spacesuits to wear outside.
My favorite planet Mars is next. I follow the exploits of Curiosity on Mars. Of course I also watch every Marvin the Martian cartoon. Love that little green guy. Mars has two little moons that look more like captured asteroids than moons.
Mars and Phobos
Marvin Returns Home (Sorry had to throw this one in.)
The asteroid belt comes next or as I like to think of it Han Solo's playground.
Asteroids and Mars
Jupiter is the most massive planet in our galaxy. In fact if it had been 80 times more massive it would have been a star instead of a planet. Its make-up is similar to our sun hydrogen and helium. It has enough moons to have its own little solar system.
Jupiter with Io, Ganymede, and Europa
One of the moons is little Io and it is the most active volcanic body in our solar system.
The moon Europa however is the most fascinating. If any place has life it may be this watery moon.
The jewel of our solar system is next with Saturn. This ringed beauty has fascinated man for centuries. Saturn could hold 760 Earths however it is so light that if you could find a big enough bathtub it would float.
Saturn's moon Titan has rivers and lakes and an atmosphere. Of course the lakes are mainly methane and ethane instead of water. Titan like our moon always faces the same side to its planet.
Saturn and Titan
The moon that fascinated me was Enceladus. I read a National Geographic story about Enceladus and it talked about the geysers. I was frustrated that there were no pictures since we didn't set foot on Enceladus. I actually had someone who did PR for NASA ask me where I got the photograph from.
Poor Uranus got clobbered early in its history and got knocked on its side.
Neptune is the other blue planet in our solar system. It is of a vivid blue shade that is quite stunning.
Triton is Neptune's largest moon. It is unusual because it is the only large moon in our solar system that orbits in the opposite direction of its planet's rotation -- a retrograde orbit.
Last but not least comes poor little Pluto who got demoted from planet status. Personally I think that is size discrimination and being vertically challenged I can sympathize. What Pluto lacks in size it makes up for in moons which currently stands at five to our one.
Pluto and Charon
Our sun will eventually go nova and expand to swallow up the inner planets including us. Hopefully we will have scattered out into the galaxy and Earthlings will survive.
Our sun isn't big enough to go supernova with its spectacular explosions.
However even in death stars create the material for new worlds and solar systems and galaxies to form. This process of death and rebirth is what makes us made of star stuff.