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Sciene Misconception: Do All Planets Take the Same Amount of Time To Orbit the Sun?
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Science Area:  Astronomy

Misconception:

 

It takes each planet the same amount of time to orbit around the sun. 

 

Facts:

The distance from the sun impacts the amount of time it takes for the plant to revolve around the sun.  Mercury which is the closest planet to the sun is 36 million miles away from the sun. It takes only 88 Earth days for Mercury to make its voyage around the sun.  Pluto (although no longer considered a planet) has a much longer path to follow.   Pluto is 3688 million miles away from the Sun and requires 248 Earth years to complete its period of revolution around the sun.  

Explanation: 

 

Students may not realize how much distance impacts a planets revolution time around the sun. 

The further a planet is from the sun, the longer it takes for it to orbit the sun.

Suggested Activity:

 

Provide each student with a yardstick, ruler and modeling clay.  Place a walnut sized ball of clay on one end of the ruler and on one end of the yard stick. Hold the yardstick and ruler vertically side by side with the edge without the clay ball on the ground.  Release both at the same time.  Observe.  The shorted ruler will hit the surface first. This will demonstrate that they shorter the distance a planet has to travel, the shorter the voyage time around the sun will be. 

 

 

 

 

Source:  VanCleave, Janice.  Astronomy for Every Kid - 101 Easy Experiments that Really Work.  John Wiley and Sons, Inc. New York. 1991.  Pages 14 & 15.