Moons, also known as natural satellites, are celestial bodies that orbit the planets and asteroids of the solar system. While the Earth has only one moon, our solar system contains more than 200 moons in total, and each one is unique.
Moons orbit most of the main planets, with the exception of Mercury and Venus. Pluto and some other minor planets and a large number of asteroids all have small moons. Saturn and Jupiter are the planets with the greatest number of moons, with dozens of satellites orbiting each of the two giant planets.
Moons are available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and varieties. A few of them have atmospheres, and some even have hidden oceans beneath the surface of their surfaces. The majority of planetary moons are thought to have formed from discs of gas and dust circling planets during the early solar system’s formation. However, some are thought to have formed elsewhere and been “caught” by larger worlds and placed in orbit.
We have curated the most beautiful of 20 moons of our solar system. We hope you enjoy them!
Ariel’s surface appears to be among the youngest of all the Uranian moons. It has few large craters and many small ones, indicating low-impact collisions wiped out the large craters.
Callisto is among the most heavily cratered objects that orbit the Sun. It is thought to be a long-dead world, with hardly any geologic activity on its surface—among the oldest landscapes in our solar system.
Enceladus has a global ocean of salty water beneath its frozen shell of ice. It continually sprays this ocean into space from fissures near its south pole, creating Saturn’s E ring as it orbits the giant planet.
Europa is perhaps the most promising place to look for present-day environments suitable for life. Europa is thought to have an ocean of salty water below its frozen outer shell of ice.
Ganymede is the largest moon in our solar system and the only moon known to create its own magnetic field. Scientists have also found strong evidence of an underground ocean on Ganymede.
Io is the most volcanically active world in the solar system, with hundreds of volcanoes, some erupting lava fountains dozens of miles high. Io is caught in a tug-of-war between Jupiter and neighboring moons.
Crater-covered Mimas is the smallest and innermost of Saturn’s major moons. Mimas is not quite big enough to hold a round shape and its low density suggests that it consists almost entirely of water ice.
Like Frankenstein’s monster, Miranda looks like it was pieced together from parts that didn’t quite merge properly. Miranda’s giant fault canyons are as much as 12 times as deep as the Grand Canyon.
Oberon―the second largest moon of Uranus―is composed of roughly half ice and half rock. It has at least one large mountain that rises about 3.7 miles (6 kilometers) from the surface.
Proteus has an odd, box-like shape, suggesting that if it had just a little more mass, it would be able to transform into a sphere. Like Saturn’s moon Phoebe, Proteus reflects only six percent of the sunlight that hits it.
Tethys is Saturn’s fifth largest moon. Cold, airless and heavily battered, it has fewer impact craters than Dione and Rhea. It may have retained a molten surface longer than its sister moons.
Titan is bigger than Earth’s moon, and even larger than the planet Mercury. Titan is the only moon in our solar system that has clouds and a dense atmosphere, and the only world apart from Earth with liquids on its surface.
Titania—Uranus’ largest moon—has a prominent system of fault valleys, some nearly 1,000 miles (1,609 kilometers) long. The troughs break the crust in two directions, a sign of past geologic activity.
Triton―the largest of Neptune’s moons―is the only large moon in our solar system to orbit in the opposite direction of its planet’s rotation. It may be a captured Kuiper Belt Object.