Physics KS3/KS4: Professor Brian Cox - Moons in the solar system

This short video gives an interesting insight into moons in the solar system.

By giving a current estimate of the number of moons in the solar system, its magnitude is highlighted.

The point is made that the study of space is a developing science, with new discoveries about the solar system being made over time and as technology develops.

The video also explains the difference between a moon and a planet, using Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, to exemplify.

Teacher notes

Points for discussion

  • Students sometimes think there is only one moon in the solar system, the one orbiting Earth. This video helps to give students a bigger picture of the solar system and to appreciate its magnitude.

  • The video also supports students to understand the relationships between the different components of the solar system.

Suggested activities

  • After watching the film, KS3 students could learn (or research) information about other planets in the solar system and the moons that orbit them. They could also move on to learn about other galaxies.

  • Students could be asked to suggest why the total number of moons in the solar system is an estimate and why it has increased over time. Students could then learn about how the technology used to make these discoveries has developed over time.

  • After watching the film, students could apply their knowledge and understanding of gravitational fields to explain trends in the number of moons for planets of different mass.

  • At KS4, this video could be used for revision of the features of the solar system before progressing on to comparing planets, their moons and artificial satellites.

Curriculum information

Suitable for KS3 England, Wales and NI and CfE Scotland, S1-3, Combined Science and Physics GCSE in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and at National 4 and 5 in Scotland.

More from this series:

Why do we have days, nights and seasons?
Why do astronomers use 'light years' to measure distance in space?
What is the Milky Way?
The solar system