Discover Gustav Holst’s music inspired by the planets and learn more about our solar system.

About our solar system

  • It is one of the 500 known solar systems in the Milky Way galaxy.
  • It appeared about 4.5 billion years ago.
  • The Sun is a star.
  • There are 8 planets revolving around the Sun: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
  • There are 2 categories of planets: terrestrial – solid, made of rocky material – and jovian – with no solid surface, made of gas or ice.
  • Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars are terrestrial planets.
  • Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are jovian planets.
  • The solar system is also home to lots of asteroids, moons, and dwarf planets such as Pluto.

Draw your solar system

Have a go at drawing your own solar system. Watch this video for inspiration.

We would love to see your solar system! If you want, you can share pictures with us on our Creative Families Facebook page or on Twitter using the hashtag #ONLittleSchool.

The planets

Just over a 100 years ago, British composer Gustav Holst wrote a piece of music called The Planets. He was fascinated by space and his piece describes the character of each planet. Let’s explore a few…

Mars, The Bringer of War

  • Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun.
  • Mars is named after the Roman god of war.
  • You can easily see Mars from Earth. It looks red because of the iron oxide on the surface.
  • Mars is covered with dormant volcanoes and craters.
  • Violent storms can whip up clouds of dust.

Holst’s music is quite threatening and sounds a bit like soldiers marching into battle. This piece has inspired many film soundtracks, including Star Wars. Listen and see if you can notice the insistent five-beat rhythm which is repeated over and over again.

Venus, The Bringer of Peace

  • Venus is the second planet from the Sun.
  • Venus is named after the Roman goddess of love and peace.
  • Venus is the brightest planet in the solar system.
  • Venus has mountains, valleys, and tens of thousands of volcanoes.
  • Venus is very similar to Earth, and because of this, it is referred to as Earth’s sister.

Holst wrote beautiful flowing melodies to describe Venus. What does the music remind you of?

Jupiter, The Bringer of Jollity

  • Jupiter is the fifth planet from the sun.
  • Jupiter is the biggest planet in our solar system.
  • Jupiter is named after the king of the Roman gods.
  • Jupiter is a giant ball of gas, with no solid surface. It is very similar to the sun.
  • Jupiter is a bit like the solar system’s vacuum cleaner. Because of its powerful gravity, it attracts many comets and asteroids and takes more hits than any other planet.

See if you can hear the very memorable tune played by the brass instruments first and then coming back throughout the piece.

Discover more

Want to discover the other planets?

Join us on Thursday 30 November 2023 at Huddersfiled Town Hall to hear the Orchestra of Opera North perform The Planets by Gustav Holst.

An evening of big ensembles, pounding rhythms and unforgettable tunes, this concert is perfect for first-timers!

Book Now


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