EARTH  is in the planetary neighborhood, and as the saying goes, there's no place like home. Our planet is unique in the solar system, and not just because we live here. Did you know that Earth is only planet in the solar system that can have eclipses of the Sun? 
Earth, our home planet, is the only planet in our solar system known to harbor life - life that is incredibly diverse. All of the things we need to survive are provided under a thin layer of atmosphere that separates us from the uninhabitable void of space. Earth is made up of complex, interactive systems that are often unpredictable. Air, water, land, and life - including humans - combine forces to create a constantly changing world that we are striving to understand.

Where Is It?
      Our home planet is the third planet out from the Sun, located in between Venus and Mars. The orbit, or path we follow around the Sun is nearly a perfect circle. The closest we come to the Sun is a little over 91 million miles, and the furthest away we get is a little less than 94 million miles. Our average distance from the Sun is about 93 million miles. By the way, our average distance  from the Sun is called an astronomical unit 
(or a.u.). 

 How Big Is It?
      Our home planet is a little over 7,600 miles in diameter, or about 24,000 miles around the equator. On a size basis, we are right  in the middle of our planetary family, with four planets, Pluto, Mercury, Venus and Mars, being smaller, and four planets,  Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, being larger. 

 How Many Moons Does It Have?
      one-fourth the size of Earth, with a diameter of a little over 2,000 miles. Earth is the only planet in the solar system that has  solar eclipses, which happen when the Moon hides the Sun. 

 How Did It Get Its Name?
      Earth is the only planet that does not have a name from either Greek or Roman mythology. The name that most of the people on   Earth use for our home planet comes from German/English roots. 

 What Is It Made Of? 
      They way Earth is put together makes our home planet very unusual. Earth has a core, or center, that is solid and made up mostly   of iron. The large amount of iron in our planet is what creates the magnetic field that makes compasses work.  On top of the solid core is a very thick layer of molten, or almost liquid, rock. This layer is called the "mantle" and is   responsible for the many eruptions of volcanoes that happened in the past and are continuing to happen now.  On top of the mantle is the layer where we live. The solid layer that makes up the continents and the oceans is actually very thin,
      averaging less than thirty miles thick. The continents actually float around on this top layer, a lot like crackers do in a bowl of soup! 

 What's It Like On The Surface? 
      The weather on Earth varies a great deal, from very cold at either the north or south poles, and keeps getting warmer until you get to the equator, or center, of our planet. What causes the "seasons" that most of us are familiar with is the fact the Earth "wobbles" on its axis, like a spinning top, as it goes around the Sun. If you live north of the equator, you have warm weather from April through August. This is because that is the time when your half of the planet is tilted towards the Sun. It is cooler during the rest of the year when the southern half of the planet is tilted towards the Sun.


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