Stars and Solar System - Class 8 Notes & Olympiad Questions

Stars and Solar System - Class 8 Science

  • The Universe
  • The Solar System
  • Classification of Planets in the Solar System
  • Planets in Our Solar System
  • Earth's Movements and Seasons
  • Moon
  • Lunar Eclipse
  • Solar Eclipse
  • Tides
  • Celestial Bodies
  • Satellites
  • Solved Questions on Stars and Solar System
  • The Universe

    a) The universe is a vast expanse that includes everything we know, from planets and stars to galaxies and beyond.
    b) The universe is about 13.8 billion years old.
    c) The universe is made up of billions of galaxies, and each galaxy contains billions or even trillions of stars.
    d) Our galaxy is called the Milky Way, and it's just one of many galaxies in the universe.

    The Solar System

    The Solar System - Science Grade 8

    a) The solar system is an intriguing component of the universe, encompassing the Sun, eight planets, a multitude of moons, asteroids, comets, and various smaller celestial bodies.
    b) The Sun takes centre stage as the gravitational focal point of our solar system, illuminating and energizing all the objects within it.
    c) The study of the solar system contributes to our comprehension of planetary origin, development, the prerequisites for life, and the extensive array of celestial entities found in our cosmic vicinity.

    Classification of Planets in the Solar System

    Planets in our solar system can be categorized into three main groups based on their characteristics and orbits:

    1. Terrestrial Planets (Inner Planets)

    a) Terrestrial planets are rocky planets with solid surfaces composed of metals and silicate rock.
    b) They are characterized by their relatively smaller sizes and higher densities.
    c) Terrestrial planets are located closer to the Sun compared to the other types of planets.
    d) The four terrestrial planets in our solar system are Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars.
    e) These planets have thinner atmospheres compared to gas giants and ice giants.

    2. Jovian Planets (Gas Giants)

    a) Jovian planets are also known as gas giants due to their massive size and predominantly gaseous compositions.
    b) They are composed mainly of hydrogen and helium, along with other gases.
    c) Jovian planets have thick atmospheres and lack solid surfaces. Instead, they have dense cores deep within their gas layers.
    d) There are four Jovian planets in our solar system: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.
    e) These planets are located farther from the Sun compared to terrestrial planets and are often referred to as the outer planets.
    f) All four Jovian planets have ring systems, although Saturn's rings are the most prominent.

    3. Dwarf Planets

    a) Dwarf planets are celestial bodies that share characteristics with planets but do not meet all the criteria to be classified as planets.
    b) They orbit the Sun, similar to regular planets, but they are often smaller in size.
    c) Unlike planets, dwarf planets may not have cleared their orbital regions of other debris.
    d) Examples of dwarf planets include Pluto, which was once classified as the ninth planet but was reclassified as a dwarf planet in 2006. Ceres, located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, is another example.
    e) Other known dwarf planets include Eris, Haumea, and Makemake.

    Planets in Our Solar System


    a) Mercury is the smallest planet in our solar system, comparable in size to Earth's Moon.
    b) It is the closest planet to the Sun, resulting in scorching temperatures during the day and frigid conditions at night.
    c) Due to its proximity to the Sun, Mercury has a brief year of only 88 Earth days.
    d) The planet's surface is rocky and cratered, resembling Earth's Moon in appearance.
    e) It has no moons and a negligible atmosphere, making its conditions inhospitable to life.


    a) Venus is often referred to as Earth's "twin" because of its similar size and structure.
    b) It is the second planet from the Sun and boasts a thick, toxic atmosphere that traps heat, creating a scorching greenhouse effect.
    c) Venus rotates very slowly and in the opposite direction of most other planets, resulting in longer days than its year.
    d) The planet's surface features volcanoes, rifts, mountains, and plains, though its high temperatures and pressure make it inhospitable for life.
    e) Venus doesn't have any moons.


    a) Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only known planet to support life.
    b) It has a dynamic surface with diverse features such as mountains, oceans, and continents.
    c) Earth's atmosphere is essential for sustaining life, as it provides oxygen and regulates temperature.
    d) The planet's axial tilt results in changing seasons as it orbits the Sun.
    e) Earth has one moon that influences ocean tides and contributes to Earth's stability.


    a) Mars is known as the "Red Planet" due to its rusty, reddish appearance caused by iron minerals in its soil.
    b) It is the fourth planet from the Sun and has a thin, cold atmosphere.
    c) Mars features canyons, valleys, and volcanoes on its surface, and it has polar ice caps.
    d) The planet's two moons, Phobos and Deimos, are irregularly shaped and relatively small.
    e) Mars has been a focus of study due to its potential for past or present life and the possibility of human exploration.


    a) Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system and is a gas giant made up mostly of hydrogen and helium.
    b) It is the fifth planet from the Sun and has a distinctive banded appearance due to its powerful storms and turbulent atmosphere.
    c) Jupiter has a massive storm called the Great Red Spot, which has been observed for centuries.
    d) The planet has a vast system of over 95 moons, including four large Galilean moons: Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.
    e) Jupiter's immense gravitational pull plays a crucial role in shaping the architecture of the outer solar system.


    a) Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and is renowned for its spectacular ring system.
    b) The planet is another gas giant composed mainly of hydrogen and helium.
    c) Saturn's rings consist of particles of ice and rock in various sizes, creating a stunning visual phenomenon.
    d) It has numerous moons, including Titan, which is larger than the planet Mercury and has a thick atmosphere.
    e) Saturn's unique features, including its rings, make it a captivating object of study.


    a) Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun and is an ice giant composed mainly of water, ammonia, and methane.
    b) Uranus claims the title of the coldest planet in the Solar System. The lowest temperature ever documented on its surface is -224o.
    c) It has a distinctive feature: it rotates on its side, likely due to a past collision.
    d) Uranus has a faint ring system and a group of 27 known moons.
    e) Its unique rotational orientation and composition make Uranus a captivating target for scientific exploration.


    a) Neptune is the eighth and farthest planet from the Sun, characterized by its deep blue colour.
    b) Like Uranus, Neptune is an ice giant, comprised of water, ammonia, and methane.
    c) It has a dynamic atmosphere with storm systems and a significant feature called the Great Dark Spot.
    d) Neptune has 14 known moons and a faint system of rings.
    e) Its distance from the Sun and dynamic atmosphere make it a subject of interest for researchers.

    Earth's Movements and Seasons


    Earth's rotation is its spinning motion around an imaginary line called its axis. This rotation is responsible for the cycle of day and night on Earth.

    Key Points:

    a) Earth takes about 24 hours to complete one full rotation on its axis.
    b) As Earth rotates, the side facing the Sun experiences daylight, creating daytime.
    c) The side facing away from the Sun experiences darkness, creating nighttime.
    d) The changing position of the Sun in the sky also affects the length and direction of shadows.
    e) In the early morning and late afternoon, when the Sun is lower in the sky, shadows appear longer because the Sun's light has to pass through more of Earth's atmosphere, scattering and creating longer shadows.
    f) As the Sun rises higher in the sky during midday, shadows become shorter because the sunlight passes through less atmosphere, resulting in shorter shadows.


    Earth's revolution is its movement around the Sun in an elliptical orbit. This movement is responsible for the changing seasons. Here's how it works:

    Key Points:

    a) Earth takes about 365.25 days to complete one full revolution around the Sun, which defines the length of a year.
    b) As Earth travels in its orbit, different parts of the planet receive varying amounts of sunlight throughout the year.
    c) When one hemisphere of Earth is tilted towards the Sun, it receives more direct sunlight and experiences summer.
    d) The hemisphere tilted away from the Sun receives less direct sunlight and experiences winter.
    e) As Earth continues its orbit, the tilt of its axis causes the seasons to change gradually.
    f) The equator, being relatively closer to the Sun's rays, experiences a milder variation in seasons compared to the poles.

    Tilted Axis

    Earth's axis is tilted at an angle of approximately 23.5 degrees relative to its orbital plane. This axial tilt is responsible for the changing seasons:

    a) During the summer solstice, around June 21st, one hemisphere (either the Northern or Southern Hemisphere) is tilted towards the Sun. This results in the longest day of the year and the highest angle of the Sun in the sky.
    b) During the winter solstice, around December 21st, the opposite hemisphere is tilted away from the Sun. This leads to the shortest day of the year and the lowest angle of the Sun in the sky.
    c) During the spring and fall equinoxes, around March 21st and September 21st, both hemispheres receive roughly equal amounts of sunlight. Day and night are approximately the same length during these times.
    d) The axial tilt and Earth's revolution combine to create the changing patterns of daylight and temperature that we experience as the seasons.


    The Moon, Earth's natural satellite, holds a special place in our understanding of the cosmos and has played a significant role in human exploration and cultural symbolism. Here are some key points about the Moon:

    Reflection of Sunlight: Unlike stars that emit their own light, the Moon doesn't generate light of its own. Instead, it reflects sunlight, which is why we can see it from Earth. The varying angles of sunlight hitting its surface create the different phases of the Moon.

    Bright and Prominent: The Moon is the brightest and largest object visible in our night sky. Its brightness makes it easily distinguishable even in urban environments with light pollution.

    Size and Ranking: Among the moons orbiting planets in our solar system, Earth's Moon is the fifth largest. It is larger than Pluto and many other moons.

    Discovery of Other Moons: The Moon was simply referred to as "the Moon" until Galileo Galilei's discovery of four moons orbiting Jupiter in 1610. This realization led to the term "moon" being used to describe natural satellites orbiting other planets as well.

    Surface Features: The Moon's surface is covered in features such as craters, pits, mountains, and valleys. These formations are the result of impacts from asteroids, meteorites, and comets over billions of years.

    Lack of Atmosphere: Unlike Earth, the Moon lacks a significant atmosphere. This absence of atmosphere means that the Moon doesn't have weather, wind, or breathable air. Consequently, it doesn't have the protective shield against harmful solar radiation that our atmosphere provides.

    Thin Exosphere: While the Moon doesn't have a traditional atmosphere, it does possess an extremely thin exosphere—a tenuous layer of gases that gradually transitions into space.

    Human Exploration: The Moon has been a target of fascination and exploration for humans for centuries. In 1969, the Apollo 11 mission successfully landed astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin on the Moon's surface, with Armstrong becoming the first human to set foot on the lunar landscape.

    Robotic Missions: Over 105 robotic spacecraft, both orbiters and landers, have been sent to study and explore the Moon. These missions have provided valuable information about its geology, composition, and history.

    Tidal Effects: The Moon's gravitational pull has a significant impact on Earth's ocean tides. The gravitational interaction between the Moon and Earth creates tidal bulges, resulting in the rise and fall of ocean waters known as high and low tides. These tidal effects also play a role in shaping Earth's oceans and coastlines.

    Phases of the Moon: Lunar Phases

    Phases of the Moon - Lunar Phases

    The changing appearance of the Moon, known as lunar phases, is a fascinating phenomenon caused by the Moon's position relative to the Earth and the Sun. Different phases in the lunar cycle, which repeats approximately every 29.5 days are:

    New Moon (0 days): During this phase, the Moon is not visible from Earth. It occurs when the Sun, Moon, and Earth are in alignment, with the side of the Moon facing us not illuminated by sunlight. The new moon marks the beginning of a new lunar cycle.

    Waxing Crescent Moon: Following the new moon, a small sliver of the Moon becomes visible. This is known as the waxing crescent phase. As the days progress, the illuminated portion of the Moon gradually increases.

    First Quarter Moon: About one week after the new moon, we reach the first quarter moon phase. Half of the Moon's illuminated side is visible, resembling a half-circle shape. It's important to note that this phase is called the "first quarter" because it marks the completion of the first quarter of the lunar cycle, not because the Moon is one-quarter illuminated.

    Waxing Gibbous Moon: After the first quarter, the illuminated part of the Moon continues to grow, leading to the waxing gibbous moon phase. It's more than a half-circle shape but not yet a complete circle.

    Full Moon (14 days): About two weeks after the new moon, we have a full moon. At this point, the Moon, Earth, and Sun are aligned, with Earth positioned between the Sun and the Moon. This alignment results in the Moon's fully illuminated side facing Earth, creating the appearance of a big, round circle in the night sky.

    Waning Gibbous Moon: Following the full moon, the illuminated portion of the Moon gradually decreases in size. This phase is known as the waning gibbous moon. It's still significant in size but no longer a complete circle.

    Third Quarter Moon: About three weeks into the lunar cycle, the third quarter moon phase occurs. Similar to the first quarter moon, half of the illuminated side is visible. However, during this phase, the opposite half of the Moon is illuminated, creating a half-circle shape in the sky.

    Waning Crescent Moon (28-30 days): As the lunar cycle nears its completion, less and less of the illuminated side of the Moon is visible. This is the waning crescent moon phase. The thin crescent shape becomes increasingly slimmer until it eventually disappears from view.

    During various phases, you might also notice additional features such as Earthshine—a faint glow on the dark part of the Moon caused by sunlight reflecting off Earth's surface and illuminating the Moon's night side.

    Lunar Eclipse

    A lunar eclipse is a captivating celestial event that occurs when the Earth passes between the Sun and the Moon, causing Earth's shadow to be cast on the Moon's surface. This phenomenon takes place only during a full moon when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are aligned in a straight line. There are two primary types of lunar eclipses:

    a) Total Lunar Eclipse: In a total lunar eclipse, Earth's shadow completely covers the Moon. The Moon can take on a dark, reddish hue during this phase, often referred to as a "blood moon." This change in colour is a result of sunlight passing through Earth's atmosphere and being refracted towards the Moon. This phenomenon is similar to how sunlight is scattered during sunrise and sunset, creating the warm colours we see on the horizon.

    b) Partial Lunar Eclipse: During a partial lunar eclipse, only a portion of the Moon is obscured by Earth's shadow, giving the appearance of a shadowy "bite" taken out of the Moon's edge. The remainder of the Moon continues to shine brightly.

    During a lunar eclipse, you might notice variations in the Moon's appearance due to the scattering of sunlight. This event provides a unique opportunity to witness the interplay between celestial bodies and experience the changing dynamics of our solar system.

    Lunar Phases - Science Grade 8

    Solar Eclipse

    A solar eclipse takes place when the Moon moves between the Earth and the Sun, temporarily blocking or partially obscuring the Sun's light. This alignment causes the Moon's shadow to fall on Earth's surface. Solar eclipses occur during a new moon when the Moon is positioned directly between the Earth and the Sun. There are a few different types of solar eclipses:

    a) Total Solar Eclipse: In a total solar eclipse, the Moon perfectly covers the entire disc of the Sun, causing the daytime sky to darken significantly for a short period. This allows the Sun's outer atmosphere, known as the corona, to become visible—a breathtaking sight.

    b) Partial Solar Eclipse: During a partial solar eclipse, only a part of the Sun's disc is obscured by the Moon, resulting in a crescent-like appearance. The remainder of the Sun is still visible.

    c) Annular Solar Eclipse: An annular solar eclipse occurs when the Moon is farther from Earth in its elliptical orbit, causing it to appear smaller in the sky. As a result, the Sun's outer edges remain visible, creating a "ring of fire" effect around the Moon.

    Solar Eclipse - Science Grade 8


    Tides are a captivating result of the gravitational interactions between the Earth, the Moon, and the Sun. The interplay of these celestial bodies causes the ocean's water levels to rise and fall along coastlines, creating a rhythmic pattern that influences marine life, coastal ecosystems, and even navigation. The primary contributors to tides are the Moon and, to a lesser extent, the Sun.

    Formation of Tides

    a) Moon's Gravitational Pull: The Moon's gravitational force affects the Earth's oceans due to its relatively close proximity. As the Moon orbits the Earth, its gravitational pull causes the water on the side of the Earth facing the Moon to experience a force that draws it slightly towards the Moon. This gravitational pull creates a bulge of water known as the high tide on the side of the Earth facing the Moon.

    b) Earth's Rotation and High Tides: As the Earth rotates on its axis, different locations on the Earth's surface pass through the high tide bulge created by the Moon's gravitational pull. This results in the occurrence of high tides along coastlines at specific intervals.

    c) Opposite High Tide: On the opposite side of the Earth, away from the Moon, another high tide occurs. This is due to the fact that the Moon's gravitational pull also slightly pulls the Earth itself towards the Moon. This creates a gravitational bulge on the opposite side of the Earth, leading to a second high tide.

    d) Low Tides: In between the two high tides, there are regions where the water level is lower than usual. These are known as low tides. When a location experiences a low tide, the water has been pulled away from the shore due to the gravitational bulges causing high tides elsewhere.

    e) Rotation and Revolution Impact: The combination of the Earth's rotation on its axis and its revolution around the Sun contributes to the occurrence of two high tides and two low tides approximately every 24 hours and 50 minutes. This slight delay in the timing of the tides is caused by the Earth's movement in its orbit, which means that a specific location takes a bit longer to align with the Moon and experience high tides again.

    f) Spring Tides: During the Full Moon and New Moon phases, when the Earth, Moon, and Sun are aligned in a straight line, their combined gravitational pull enhances the high tides. This results in exceptionally high tides, known as spring tides. Spring tides have nothing to do with the season "spring" but rather refer to the "springing forth" of the tide. These stronger tides can lead to coastal flooding and are particularly influential in coastal areas.

     Explore more about Gravitation

    Celestial Bodies

    Celestial bodies are intriguing objects that exist beyond Earth and populate the vastness of space. They encompass a wide range of entities, each contributing to our understanding of the universe.


    a) Stars are immense spheres of hot, glowing gas that emit light and heat.
    b) They come in different sizes, colours, and temperatures. The colour of a star is an indicator of its temperature.
    c) Our Sun is a star, and it serves as the primary source of energy for our solar system.
    d) Stars are fundamental building blocks of galaxies, and they play a pivotal role in the creation of elements necessary for life.


    a) The Sun is the star at the centre of our solar system.
    b) It is a massive ball of hot, ionized gas that provides light, heat, and energy to Earth.
    c) The Sun's energy is essential for photosynthesis, weather patterns, and sustaining life on our planet.

    Pole Star (Polaris)

    a) Polaris is a notable star situated above the North Pole.
    b) It remains nearly stationary in the sky as Earth rotates, making it a valuable navigational aid.
    c) Sailors and navigators have used Polaris to determine the direction for centuries.
    d) It is part of the Ursa Minor constellation.


    Constellations of Stars - Science Grade 8

    a) Constellations are captivating arrangements of stars in the night sky that have been recognized by various cultures throughout history.
    b) These star patterns often bear a resemblance to familiar objects, animals, or mythological figures, and they have been used for navigation, storytelling, and cultural significance.
    c) There are zodiac constellations that are a special set of constellations that align with the Sun's path throughout the year.
    d) Astronomers have officially recognized a total of 88 constellations in the sky.

    Here are some examples:

    1. Ursa Major (Great Bear)

    a) Ursa Major, also known as the Great Bear, is a prominent constellation in the northern sky.
    b) It is composed of seven bright stars that outline the shape of a large spoon or dipper.
    c) The stars of Ursa Major are easily recognizable and have been used by many cultures as markers for navigation.
    d) One of the most well-known features of Ursa Major is the Big Dipper, which is a part of this constellation.
    e) It is visible during the summer season in the northern hemisphere.
    f) Ursa Major is significant for locating the North Star (Polaris), which is relatively close to its position in the sky.

    2. Ursa Minor (Little Bear)

    a) Ursa Minor, the Little Bear, is another constellation in the northern sky.
    b) Similar to Ursa Major, Ursa Minor also comprises seven stars, including the North Star (Polaris), which is an important navigational reference point.
    c) It is also known as the Little Dipper.
    d) Ursa Minor is less conspicuous than Ursa Major but plays a crucial role in helping to find the North Star.

    3. Orion (The Hunter)

    a) Orion is a well-recognized constellation in the celestial equator.
    b) It features seven prominent stars along with several fainter stars.
    c) The constellation's arrangement outlines the figure of a hunter holding a club and shield.
    d) Orion is most visible during the winter season and is a favourite among stargazers.
    e) One of the distinctive features of Orion is the line formed by the three middle stars, which leads to the bright star Sirius, known as the "Dog Star."

    4. Cassiopeia

    a) Cassiopeia is a constellation that resembles a distorted "W" or "M" shape, depending on its orientation in the sky.
    b) It is visible in the northern hemisphere and is known for its distinctive appearance.
    c) Cassiopeia is often associated with a mythological queen from Greek mythology.
    d) This constellation is prominent during the winter season and is easily recognizable due to its unique pattern.


    a) Asteroids are rocky objects that orbit the Sun, mainly found in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
    b) They vary in size from small boulders to larger bodies.
    c) Asteroids are remnants from the early solar system's formation.


    a) Meteors, often referred to as "shooting stars," are bright streaks of light caused by meteoroids entering Earth's atmosphere and burning up.
    b) They are observed during meteor showers when Earth passes through debris left by comets.


    a) Comets are icy bodies that develop glowing tails as they approach the Sun.
    b) Their tails are created by the release of gas and dust as the Sun's heat vaporizes the comet's icy nucleus.
    c) Comets usually have elliptical orbits that take them closer to the Sun.


    a) Satellites are objects that orbit around planets or other celestial bodies. There are mainly two types of satellites: Artificial and natural.
    b) Natural satellites, also known as moons, orbit planets.
    c) Artificial satellites are human-made and serve various purposes, such as communication, navigation, weather monitoring, and scientific research.

    Natural Satellites (Moons)

    a) Moons are natural satellites that orbit planets, dwarf planets, or even asteroids.
    b) They come in various sizes and play crucial roles in shaping the characteristics of their parent bodies.
    c) Earth's Moon, for example, affects tides and stabilizes Earth's rotation.
    d) Moons can also provide insight into the history and geological processes of their host bodies.

    Artificial Satellites

    a) Artificial satellites are human-made objects intentionally placed into orbit around Earth or other celestial bodies.
    b) They come in different sizes, shapes, and functions based on their intended purposes.
    c) These satellites are launched into space using rockets and serve various functions that benefit human activities and scientific understanding.

    Application of Artificial Satellites

    1. Communication: Communication satellites, positioned in geostationary or other orbits, relay signals between ground stations and receivers, facilitating global communication.

    They enable:
    a) International and long-distance phone calls.
    b) Broadcasting of television and radio signals.
    c) High-speed internet access in remote and rural areas.
    d) Data transfer for businesses and research.

    2. Navigation: Navigation satellites, particularly the Global Positioning System (GPS), provide accurate positioning and timing information to users around the world.

    This enables:
    a) Precise navigation for vehicles, aircraft, and ships.
    b) Location-based services on smartphones and devices.
    c) Mapping and surveying applications for construction and urban planning.

    3. Weather Monitoring:

    Weather satellites play a critical role in observing Earth's weather patterns and climate. They contribute to:

    a) Accurate weather forecasting and severe weather prediction.
    b) Climate studies and monitoring long-term climate trends.
    c) Tracking hurricanes, cyclones, and typhoons, helping with disaster preparedness.

    4. Scientific Research:

    Scientific satellites aid in advancing our understanding of Earth, space, and the universe. They support:

    a) Study of Earth's atmosphere, oceans, and land for climate research.
    b) Monitoring changes in ice cover, sea level rise, and deforestation.
    c) Exploration of distant celestial objects, galaxies, and cosmic phenomena.

    5. Surveillance and Imaging:

    Satellites equipped with cameras and sensors capture high-resolution images of Earth's surface, enhancing various fields:

    a) Environmental monitoring to track changes in forests, oceans, and urban areas.
    b) Disaster response by assessing damage after natural disasters.
    c) Resource management, urban planning, and agricultural analysis.

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