Scholastic News Online

Scholastic News Online is a free resource with breaking news and highlights from the print magazine.

Available for grades 1-6, Scholastic News magazine brings high-interest current events and nonfiction to millions of classrooms each week.

Additionally, our subscribers have FREE access to Scholastic News Interactive, an exclusive online learning tool featuring digital editions, videos, interactive features, differentiated articles, and much more.

Rendering of a planet in orbit Illustration of Kepler-10b, a possible planet discovered by the Kepler space telescope, and the planet's orbit. (NASA / Kepler Mission / Dana Berry)

New Planets in Earth's Backyard

A NASA telescope makes the biggest planet discovery ever

By Sara Goudarzi | February 8 , 2011
<br /><strong>TOP:</strong> NASA's Kepler space telescope<br /><br /><strong>BOTTOM:</strong> Imagined view of the star Kepler-10 from the planet Kepler-10b, like the Sun rising over Earth.<br /><br />(NASA / Wendy Stenzel / Kepler Mission / Dana Berry)

TOP: NASA's Kepler space telescope

BOTTOM: Imagined view of the star Kepler-10 from the planet Kepler-10b, like the Sun rising over Earth.

(NASA / Wendy Stenzel / Kepler Mission / Dana Berry)

Astronomers have hit the planetary jackpot! NASA's Kepler space telescope has uncovered 1,235 potential exoplanets, or planets outside Earth's solar system. The discovery could triple the number of known planets.

Fifty-four of these exoplanets could potentially support human life. Like Earth, these planets orbit, or circle around, their stars at distances that allow temperatures to be warm enough for liquid water to exist on their surface. They are in what's called a habitable zone, or an area where living things might be able to survive.

Of the 54 planets in the habitable zone, five are approximately the size of Earth. The rest range in size from twice the size of Earth to larger than Jupiter—the largest planet in our solar system. Jupiter is 11 times the size of Earth.

Kepler also discovered six planets crowded around a star called Kepler-11. This family of potential planets is the largest group found orbiting a star outside our solar system.


In March 2009, NASA launched Kepler into outer space to search for Earth-like planets in our galaxy, which is called the Milky Way.

The spacecraft has been orbiting the sun and scanning a part of the sky between two constellations, or groupings of stars, called Cygnus and Lyra. Using a tool that measures brightness, Kepler watches light from more than 156,000 stars and any planets that pass in front of them.

Still, Kepler monitors only about one four-hundredth of the sky.

"The fact that we've found so many planet candidates in such a tiny fraction of the sky suggests there are countless planets orbiting sunlike stars in our galaxy," said William Borucki of NASA's Ames Research Center in California.

Scientists plan to use other telescopes to confirm that these newly found objects are indeed planets.

  • Teacher Store
  • The Teacher Store  
    Discovering My World: Solar System: The Planets

    Discovering My World: Solar System: The Planets

    by Melvin Berger;Gilda Berger

    Another great title from Scholastic. Detailed description coming soon.

    $2.45 You save: 30%
    Paperback Book | Grades K-1
    Add To Cart
    Educators Only
    Discovering My World: Solar System: The Planets
    Grades K-1 $2.45
    Add To Cart
  • Teacher Store
  • The Teacher Store  
    Science Vocabulary Readers: Space

    Science Vocabulary Readers: Space

    by Liza Charlesworth

    Boost students' nonfiction skills AND their vocabularies with these super-engaging readers packed with fascinating facts and fantastic photos! The books include a table of contents, three short chapters, diagrams, captions, a glossary, comprehension questions, and more. Comes with a complete teaching guide.

    • 36 full-color, 16-page books (6 copies of 6 titles)
    • 24-page teaching guide
    • sturdy storage box

    $41.99 You save: 40%
    Boxed Set | Grades 1-2
    Add To Cart
    Educators Only
    Science Vocabulary Readers: Space
    Grades 1-2 $41.99
    Add To Cart
Privacy Policy




Here's something interesting from