Planets in order of distance, size, mass and more
Is the order of the planets in our solar system important? In a sense yes, because the solar system as we know it depends strongly on the gravitational influences that every planet exerts on one another. The entire stability of our solar system is based on the current order and location of the planets. Jupiter (5th planet) is the planet that exerts the strongest gravitational influence on the solar system after the Sun. If this giant planet was placed at the outskirts of the system, say after Neptune (8th planet), the whole order of the planets would be affected as well as their distance from the Sun. Life might not have started on Earth and you would not be reading this article right now.
In this article, we will examine the order of the planets from the Sun and how to remember it. We will also rank them according to their size, mass, orbital period, and rotation period. Enjoy!
Table of Contents
- What is the order of the planets from the sun?
- How to memorize the order of the planets?
- What caused the planets to be in that order?
- The planets in order of size (from largest to smallest)
- The planets in order of mass (from heaviest to lightest)
- The planets in order of orbital period around the Sun (from shortest to longest)
- The planets in order of rotation period around their axis (from shortest to the longest)
What is the order of the planets from the sun?
Mercury is the first planet
Mercury is the first planet in our solar system. It is located at an average distance of 36 million miles (58 million kilometres) from our star. Because this small planet is so close to the Sun’s harmful solar winds, it has the thinnest atmosphere of all planets.
Venus is the second planet
Venus is the second planet in our solar system. It is located at an average distance of 67 million miles (108 million kilometers) from our star. Venus is unfortunately a little too close to the Sun for life to develop there.
Earth is the third planet
Earth is the third planet in our solar system. It is located at an average distance of 92.96 million miles (149.60 million km) from our star. Our beautiful planet is ideally placed inside the goldilock zone, making it the only planet of our solar system where intelligent life could thrive.
Mars is the fourth planet
Mars is the fourth planet in our solar system. It is located at an average distance of 142 million miles (228 million kilometers) from our star. Sadly, this means the red planet is too far away from the goldilocks zone which means that life was not able to flourish like it did on Earth.
Jupiter is the fifth planet
Jupiter is the fifth planet in our solar system. It is located at an average distance of 484 million miles (778 million kilometers) from our star. Jupiter is nicknamed the godfather of the solar system because its very strong gravitational influence attracts smaller objects such as asteroids towards the gas giant. Jupiter indirectly provides some protection to the 7 other planets, including the Earth, against asteroids.
Saturn is the sixth planet
Saturn is the sixth planet in our solar system. It is located at an average distance of 886 million miles (1.4 billion kilometers) from our star. It is believed that Saturn’s gravitational influence on Jupiter once slowed down the gas giant enough to prevent it from moving towards the interior of the solar system, where the rocky planets are.
Uranus is the seventh planet
Uranus is the seventh planet in our solar system. It is located at an average distance of 1.8 billion miles (2.9 billion kilometers) from our star. The distant gas giant has a ring system just like Saturn. It is so far away that it’s a real challenge for any stargazers to observe Uranus through a telescope.
Neptune is the eighth planet
Neptune is the eight planet in our solar system. It is located at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles (4.5 billion kilometers) from our star. The blue gas giant is the farthest and coldest planet in the solar system.
Recap: The planets in order of distance from the Sun
- Mercury – 36 million miles (58 million kilometres)
- Venus – 67 million miles (108 million kilometers)
- Earth – 92.96 million miles (149.60 million km)
- Mars – 142 million miles (228 million kilometers)
- Jupiter – 484 million miles (778 million kilometers)
- Saturn – 886 million miles (1.4 billion kilometers)
- Uranus – 1.8 billion miles (2.9 billion kilometers)
- Neptune – 2.8 billion miles (4.5 billion kilometers)
How to memorize the order of the planets?
The easiest way to remember the order of the 8 planets is to use a mnemonic device. It’s simply a memorable sentence where the first letter of each word is the same first letter in the planet’s name.
The most popular mnemonic device is: My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Noodles.
The first letter of each word is M V E M J S U N which recalls the planet’s name: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune.
What caused the planets to be in that order?
The solar system began as a giant cloud of gas and dust where, at one point, gravity gathered enough matter to create the Sun, while the planets formed from the remnants of dust and gas left over after the Sun formed.
There are many theories as to why the planets are in this particular order, but none are 100% confirmed. It is thought that the solar winds may have pushed most of the gases further into the solar system where the gas giant formed, leaving behind mostly rock and dust that led to the formation of the rocky planet. This would explain why the inner solar system is populated only by rocky planets while the outer solar system is populated only by gas giants.
To date, we do not know exactly why the planets are in this precise order, but we can imagine that it is mostly due to a long list of random factors that happened during the formation of the solar system, gravitational influences, impacts with other celestial bodies, etc.
The planets in order of size (from largest to smallest)
The largest planets, rightly called the gas giants, are located on the outskirt of the solar system while the smallest, the rocky planets, are located in the inner region.
- Jupiter is first, with a diameter of 88,846 miles (142,800 km)
- Saturn is second, with a diameter of 74,900 miles (120,660 km)
- Uranus is third, with a diameter of 31,763 miles (51,118 km)
- Neptune is fourth, with a diameter of 30,779 miles (49,528 km)
- Earth is fifth, with a diameter of 7,926 miles (12,756 km)
- Venus is sixth, with a diameter of 7,521 miles (12,104 km)
- Mars is seventh, with a diameter of 4,222 miles (6787 km)
- Mercury is eighth, with a diameter of 3,031 miles (4879.4 km)
The planets in order of mass (from heaviest to lightest)
The mass of a planet will dictate the amount of gravity it will produce. Gas giants are the heaviest planets and therefore have the most gravitational influence on the rest of the solar system. The mass of our planet is the reason why you are not floating away! Fun fact: your weight would be completely different on every planet in the solar system!
- Jupiter: 1.8986 x 1027 kilograms
- Saturn: 5.6846 x 1026 kilograms
- Neptune: 10.243 x 1025 kilograms
- Uranus: 8.6810 x 1025 kilograms
- Earth: 5.9736 x 1024 kilograms
- Venus: 4.8685 x 1024 kilograms
- Mars: 6.4185 x 1023 kilograms
- Mercury: 3.3022 x 1023 kilograms
In what order did the planets form in our Solar System?
We still do not know in what order the planet formed in the solar system. It is thought that the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn may have been the first planets to form and that their gravitational influences may have helped shape the solar system we know today.
The planets in order of orbital period around the Sun (from shortest to longest)
The orbital period is the time it takes for a given celestial object to complete a full orbit around another celestial object. In our case, we are looking at the orbital period of the planets around the Sun. No surprise here, the further a planet is from the Sun, the longer its orbital period will be.
- Mercury: 87.97 days (about 3 months)
- Venus: 224.70 days (about 7 months)
- Earth: 365.26 days (12 months)
- Mars: 686.98 days (about 2 years)
- Jupiter: 4,332.82 days (about 12 years)
- Saturn: 10,755.70 days (about 29.5 years)
- Uranus: 30,687.15 days (about 84 years)
- Neptune: 60,190.03 days (about 165 years)
The planets in order of rotation period around their axis (from shortest to longest)
The rotation period of a celestial object is the time it takes said object to complete a full revolution around its axis. For the 8 planets of our solar system, this indicates the length of their days.
- Earth: 24 hours
- Mars: 25 hours
- Jupiter: 10 hours
- Saturn: 11 hours
- Uranus: 17 hours
- Neptune: 16 hours
- Mercury: 1,408 hours (58.6 days)
- Venus: 5,832 hours (243 days)
Welcome to StarLust.org
Hey! I’m Tom Urbain, the founder of StarLust.org. I have been obsessed with space from a very young age. When I’m not binge-watching space documentaries, movies or TV shows, I can be found in my backyard, carefully collimating my telescope… ready to observe the universe!
This page is part of our collection of articles about astronomy. If you enjoyed the read, then you’ll love the following articles.
Ever since the first moon landing, many people have been wondering about the absence of stars on images taken by astronauts on the moon.
Applications for iPhone & Android have revolutionized backyard astronomy. It’s now easier than ever to find your way around the night sky.
The main actor in our solar system is the Sun since it contains 99% of all matter. Let’s see how big our sun really is.