How many planets are in the universe? This is a question asked by many intelligent people. The answer they give is often, “I don’t know.” And why not, with so many things we have no way to determine their true number.
Facts on the Number of Planets
Astronomy and astrology each have their methods of gauging the size of the number of heavenly bodies in the universe. Some even go so far as to propose a model with a solar system, a rotating sun, and a gas-giant planet at the center of it all. The problem with this is that there isn’t a standard model for any type of planetary system, and there is no way to measure the number of planets in the universe in terms of total mass, gravity, composition, and such.
It is estimated however that there are somewhere around ten billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy alone. If we were to try and calculate how many planets are in the entire universe, it would take us an astronomical amount of time. That is, if we started with the stars, and stopped with the other stuff, it would take millions of years. One can only speculate on the properties of these objects. We can’t see them, and we don’t know how they evolve.
But, assuming we can make some approximate estimations, it doesn’t seem like we have to worry much about how many planets are in the universe. One estimate is around ten billion, although this varies. An even greater underestimate would put the number at nearly a hundred billion. No matter what the figure is though, we can still be fairly certain that our galaxy has more than most of them.
So, if the question “how many planets are in the solar system” isn’t important, then, indeed, how many actual planets are there? And are they all similar in one way or another? The answer is: no. There are a few very specific similarities, but the different elements make each planet a little bit different, and each is very unique by itself. We can say that in general, all of the planets in our solar system are pretty similar.
The other interesting question that arises is: which of the many planets is closest to the one we live on? While there may not be a direct answer to this question, there is a way to approximate it. We can use the diameter of the planet to measure its mass. If the planet is very close to its star, it will be very heavy, while if it is further away, it will be less heavy.
To get an estimate of how many planets are in the solar system, it would be wise to take an exact image of our solar system. This way, we can see at a glance how big the gas giants are, and how much gas they have. If you know how many times your mass is divided by its gravity, then you’ll be able to determine how many planets there are. There could be thousands of these giant planets, out in space, whizzing around in their bubble. We don’t know how they got their start, but we do know that they are out there, whizzing through space as tiny grains of sand.
To figure out how many planets there are, you would need to take an image of our solar system, with a telescope. You could take a picture of the asteroid belt, and get a rough estimate of how many small rocky worlds there could be out in the Kuiper Belt. This would be a great project for a college student, or an amateur. It would take careful measurements, and some calculations, to get a decent estimate. But with enough observation and study, a person could get a ballpark figure.