For thousands of years, astronomers have studied the planets. Ancient astronomers all over the world were intrigued by colored 'stars' which moved independently from the rest of the stars. Roman and Greek astronomers called these objects planets, meaning 'wanderers'.|
These planets were named after the Roman gods: Jupiter was the king of the gods, Mars was the god of war, Venus was the god of love, and Saturn was the god of agriculture. Early astronomers studied the movements of the planets carefully, trying to predict things like the weather or even the future.
Today astronomers study the planets not to find their horoscope, but to learn about our solar system. At first, modern astronomers had to use crude ground-based telescopes and observatories. These instruments allowed them to discover Uranus, Neptune, and finally Pluto. As time went on, technology progressed, allowing astronomers to study the planets in greater detail. Space probes flung into space captured images of the far away outer planets while landers and global surveyors examined the closer details of the planets, like soil and atmosphere composition. By clicking on the images below, you too can explore each planet and learn about it.