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NATURAL SCIENCES

1 ESO

UNIT 1: THE EARTH WITHIN THE UNIVERSE


Theories about the Universe
The two most important theories about the universe were:
The geocentric theory: the Earth is at the centre of the Universe.
The heliocentric theory: the Sun is at the centre of the Universe and the Earth
revolves around it.
Today we know that the Earth is a planet that revolves around the Sun, which is
one of the many stars in our galaxy.
The known Universe consists of billions or trillions of galaxies: enormous
groups of stars and interstellar gas and dust. Galaxies can also contain billions or
trillions of stars.
Our galaxy, the Milky Way
Our galaxy, the Milky Way, contains hundreds of billions of stars, including the
Sun. It is composed of a nucleus of old stars, a disk (or spiral arms) of young stars, and
a halo of isolated stars and globular clusters. Our Sun is in the Orion Arm of the disk.
Activities
1) Which of the following sentences is correct? Explain your answer in your exercise
notebook.
a) The solar system constitutes the Universe.
b) The Earth is at the centre of the Universe.
c) Our galaxy is just one of the billions or trillions that make up the known Universe.
2) Put the words in order to make questions. Then ask and answer the questions with a
partner.
a) is / What / of light / the speed / ?
b) consist of / the known Universe / does / What / ?
3) Which of the following sentences is correct? Give reasons for your answer in your
exercise notebook.
a) The Milky Way is a nebula formed of dust and gas.
b) The Milky Way is the galaxy where we are and the Sun is at its centre.
c) The Milky Way is the galaxy to which the solar system belongs.
d) The Milky Way is the closest galaxy to ours.
4) Look at the illustrations. Which theory does each one represent: geocentric or
heliocentric? Explain your answer in your exercise notebook.

NATURAL SCIENCES

1 ESO
The Solar System

The Solar System is composed of:

A medium-sized star: the Sun. This is the only body that emits its own light.
The temperature in the nucleus is about 15 000 000 C
A group of planets, dwarf planets and satellites: planets orbit the Sun and
satellites orbit planets.
Planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and
Neptune
Dwarf planets: Pluto, Ceres, and Eris, and some smaller and more
distant dwarf planets.
Satellites
Comets consist of rock, ice and dust
Features of the planet

Revolution: the orbit of all planets around the Sun, except for Pluto, is
approximately on the same plane. The time that a planet takes to orbit the Sun is
called a year.
Rotation: the time that a planet takes to rotate on its own axis is called a day.

Activities
1) Write the planets in the correct order in your exercise notebook.
2) Match the terms in each column.
a) Star
b) Planet
c) Comet
d) Satellite
e) Dwarf planet

1) Pluto
2) Sun
3) Halleys
4) Mercury
5) Moon

3) Unjumble the words in brackets. Complete the sentences in your exercise notebook.
a) A _________ is a natural object, such as the Moon, that moves around a_______
(atlleseit) (leatpn)
b) An asteroid is a small rocky body orbiting around the ______ (uns)
c) Our__________ consists of the eight planets and their moons in orbit around the Sun,
plus smaller bodies such as ___________ and asteroids. (aolrs stesmy) (mtseco)
4) Answer these questions.
a) What types of movement do planets have?
b) How long does a planet take to revolve once around the Sun?
c) What are comets made of?
d) Is planetary rotation always in the same direction as planetary revolution?

NATURAL SCIENCES

1 ESO

The planets

PlANETS

Mercury: it is the closest planet to the Sun. It has no satellites.


Venus:INNER
it has a similar size and density to Earth, but its atmosphere is much denser. It
has no
satellites.
PLANETS
Earth: the average temperature is 15C and there are large masses of liquid water. It has
one large satellite: the Moon.
Mars: it has two small rocky satellites: Phobos and Daimos.
Jupiter: there are bands of different coloured clouds. It has four large satellites and
about sixty
smaller ones
GAS
Saturn
(A.K.A.:
GIANTS The lord of the rings): it has a spectacular ring system made of ice,
rocks and
dust. It has seven large satellites and around thirty small ones.
A.K.A.
Uranus:
it
is a frozen planet. It has dozen of satellites; five of them are very large.
OUTER
Neptune:
it is also a frozen planet, but the temperature inside it is hot. It has more than
PLANETS
a dozen satellites; Triton is very large.
Activities
1) Answer these questions.
a) Which planet has a dense atmosphere?
b) How many satellites do Mercury, Venus and Mars have? Name them.
c) What similarities and differences are there between the Earth and Venus?
d) Which planet is also called The Lord of the Rings?
e) Which is the composition of the Saturns ring system?
2) Describe a planet to your partner. Guess what planet your planet is describing.
Example:
A: It is a frozen planet, but the temperature inside is hot.
B: Its Neptune.
The Earths orbit
The Earth, as the rest of the planets, moves in two different ways at the same time:
revolution and rotation.
The orbit of the Earth is called Ecliptic, and the Sun it is not at the centre of the
Ecliptic. So, aphelion (farthest point in orbit) happens around 21 June, and this time is
called Summer Solstice (more hours of light for the northern hemisphere, less for the
southern hemisphere); on the other hand, perihelion (closest point in orbit) happens
around 22 December, and this time is called Winter Solstice (less hours of light for the
northern hemisphere, more for the southern hemisphere). For both Spring Equinox
(around 21 March) and Autumn Equinox (around 22 September) the length of the day
equals the length of the night.
The Earths axis of rotation is tilted 23,5 relative to the Plane of the Ecliptic. This
tilting is what gives us the four seasons of the year: Summer, Spring, Winter and
Autumn (or Fall).

NATURAL SCIENCES

1 ESO

The Moon
The Moon has different phases called lunar phases, which are due to its movement
around the Earth and the light it receives from the Sun: full moon, waxing moon, new
moon and waning moon.

NATURAL SCIENCES

1 ESO

Activities
1) Label the sun, the aphelion, and the perihelion in the diagram below.

2) Answer these questions:


a) What does this picture represent?
b) What is the name of the Galaxy where it belongs?
c) How many planets can you see here?

3) Globular clusters are very dense star clusters and open clusters are not so dense.
Which picture corresponds to each?

NATURAL SCIENCES

1 ESO

VOCABULARY
Asteroid
Astronomical Unit (A.U.)
Atmosphere
Comet
Ecliptic
Earth (Planets)
Dwarf planets
Frozen
Galaxy Cluster
Galaxy Group
Hemisphere (northern and sourthern)
Interstellar
Jupiter
Light Year
Mars
Mercury
Milky Way (Galaxy Galaxies)
Moon
Nebula (Nebulae)
Neptune
Rock / Rocky
Satellite
Saturn
Seasons (Summer, Spring, Winter and Autumn [or Fall]).
Sun (Stars)
Uranus
Venus